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Panzer Dragoon
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When the Sega Saturn first came out and was testing its feet in the murky waters of the early 32 bit era, Team Andromeda wanted to create a game that would both show off what the Saturn was capable of and introduce players to a world that was unlike any other.  The result was Panzer Dragoon, the gateway to what would later become one of Sega's most beloved cult classic franchises.
 
The core gameplay of Panzer Dragoon was actually very familiar to gamers of that era.  As a forward scrolling shooter, Panzer Dragoon was reminiscent of the original Star Fox.  That's where the similarities end.  Panzer Dragoon throws enemies at you in a full 360 degrees worth of blasting action.  Pressing the shoulder buttons on the Saturn's controller allowed you to swing your view around 90 degrees to face your foes coming in from different sides.  In addition to the standard blaster, your dragon had the ability to lock on to many enemies at once and unleash homing lasers.
 
Wait.  Dragon?  Yes, dragon.  Team Andromeda wasn't merely content to providing just another ordinary shooter.  Inspired by the artwork of Mobius, Panzer Dragoon was an intriguing mix of fantasy and science fiction, all while avoiding being derivative in either area.  Panzer Dragoon contained an art and narrative style never before seen and never used in any other shooter besides its own franchise.  Rarely are whole cultures, histories, and universes created just to flesh out a work of art or fiction.  Panzer Dragoon is just such an occasion.  Even today, whole theories are being thought out and argued about by rabid fans.  In Panzer Dragoon, dragons aren't typical fantasy style fire breathing beasts but products of the game's enigmatic history and nearly indestructable biotechnological terrors.  This is deep stuff, but unfortunately, being the very first game, Panzer Dragoon didn't get much of a chance to show off its universe and what it wanted to tell.  With its sparse movies and sparser dialogue, players were left with the impression that it was just about an evil dragon and flying airships of some country following both.  Fleshing out the world was left to this game's superior sequels and one extraordinary RPG.
 
Grade: Great

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