|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|
|Game Design and Playability||Excellent|
|Type Of Fun||Shooting|
|Replay Value||Good to Excellent|
|The Best||Imaginative World Design, Good Cinema, Game Save Feature, Multiple Paths, Evolving Dragons, Incredible Effects|
|The Worst||Limited firepower options -- could have more attack possibilities.|
|How much I'd Pay for This||50 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.
Set in the same world as the original Panzer Dragoon, the story actually is - well THAT would be a spoiler.
A young man has broken the laws of his people by secretly keeping a mutant Khourieat, or dinosauroid animal, as a pet. Long ago, the Khourieats were genetically engineered for some purpose, as the world slipped into primitive barbarism, the technology and purpose was forgotten. Most Khourieats are used as pack animals, but the mutant Khourieat -- born with a mysterious blue light in their throat -- is to be killed at birth by the law of the land.
The hero of Panzer Dragoon II is a kind and noble sort, and cannot slaughter his newly hatched Khourieat. Over the years, the Khourieat grows, and develops something strange -- wings! Additionally, the mutant also begins to be able to project blue plasma from its throat.
One day, after much effort, the Khourieat has been taught to fly short distances, and our hero is intent on proving to his village that his pet is useful and good. But as he is returning on the back of his pet, he sees his entire village utterly obliterated by a mile-long flying THING: part machine and part lifeform.
He understands that the destruction must be related to the survival of his Khourieat, but why his pet should be considered such a threat is the real mystery
Basically, you shoot everything in sight.
Panzer Dragoon II, like it's predecessor, 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.
A vast improvement over Panzer Dragoon I, the new Panzer adds a game save feature, many more levels and possibilities, multiple paths to take -- each choice of which affects the outcome in multiple ways, and evolving Khourieat -- Dragons that can be grown in custom ways depending on which paths are chosen.
The story is fantastic, with a twist ending for those quick enough to grasp it. Some zones of play are simply stunning, and the play of the game has been improved. As a shooter, Panzer Dragoon II is definitely worth the price of admission, and the replay value is icing on the cake. Recommended. A must have for any serious Saturn collection.
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.