|Platform Reviewed||Sega Saturn|
|Genre||3D Pre-programmed Flightpath Shooter|
|Number of Players||1|
|Skills Required||Hand-Eye Coordination, Simple Tactical Choice|
|Interface Devices||Sega Saturn Joypad|
|Programming||Very Good to Excellent (could have more rounded surfaces)|
|Game Design and Playability||Good to Excellent|
|Type Of Fun||Shooting|
|Overall Value||Very Good|
|The Best||Unusual Concept, Interesting Rotating Viewpoints, Imaginative World Design, Good Cinema|
|The Worst||Limited firepower options -- could have more attack possibilities. Graphics could be a little more rounded and shaded, could be longer, with a save feature added (being greedy there).|
|How much would I be willing to pay for this||45 Bucks|
Panzer Dragoon follows in the long succession of 3D 'Flight Corridor' shooters, such as Starfox, Space Harrier, and Starblade. The flight path is Pre-Programmed, requiring the player to shoot and avoid along the trip. Panzer Dragoon features only two distinct weapon possibilities, pulsed fire, and Lock-On autotargeting blasts, requiring careful choice as to when to apply each.
A thousand years in the future, the civilizations of the world have degenerated to a warring set of city-state empires which make use of both ancient and high technology. In this mixture of dragon-riding warriors and antigravity fortresses, the player is cast as a last minute savior to the world. A mortally wounded dragon warrior leaves the player to fill his boots, as the player rides shotgun in an attempt to prevent a cruel tyrant from acquiring an ancient, and ultimate weapon.
Basically, you shoot everything in sight.
Panzer Dragoon is essentially Star Fox meets R-Type by way of Space Harrier. As a 3D shooter it allows for some very interesting vistas, and camera angle possibilities are plentiful. It is possible, and often necessary, to rotate the view 360 degrees around the dragon the player rides, and the careful and judicious use of the two very different weapons, adds a degree of strategy. Overall, a fun and very imaginatively beautiful ride, with the player facing everything from vast floating zeppelins, to giant towering sandworms which glide behind and ahead of the player, as well as arcing overhead.
The game is a tad short, and sometimes difficult; it is hard to avoid return fire at times, which can be frustrating. The graphics could have been more rounded and contoured, but over all, things do glide by smoothly and effortlessly enough. The cinema scenes deserve special note, as they are well done, and add to the game, and the music is effective. I definitely would have preferred the addition of gobs of varied weapons and powerups, but perhaps the designers wanted to keep the idea of riding a living dragon intact; snap on armaments for a living beast do seem a bit hard to explain (unless the dragon were cast as a living machine hmmm ).
All in all a unique and imaginative shooter, with much to offer, and only some minor quibbles to complain about. I can recommend it for the crowd that liked Starfox and Space Harrier, a crowd that includes your author. This is perhaps no groundbreaking masterpiece, but it is a solid and enjoyable blast-fest, with very interesting and unusual opponents, in the clouds, over sunken cities, and in dark caverns or desert canyons. I quite liked it.
Jennifer Diane Reitz is a Game Designer and Computer Artist, and one of the founders of Happy Puppy. She is the creator of numerous games and software products, including Boppin' , Shark Chums, Elsewhere, and many others. She has worked for such companies as Activision, Sculptured Software, Epyx, SRI, and Electronic Arts, and founded Accursed Toys. She has been active in the computer gaming industry since it's earliest days. She considers games to be works of artistic merit and achievement, and views computer entertainment as the most important media of our era.