In a brand new weekly feature, the team at the most awesome That’s Not Current will be drawing your attention to a classic video game of old that we shall be formally requisitioning to be reborn, revisited, rebooted, or remastered. We will explain what makes each game such a timeless classic still worthy of attention, pitch what it would be all about and get all realistic by discussing the possibilities of it actually ever happening.
“We, the most awesome and fabulous team at That Not Current, have decreed in all our wisdom and obsession with the wonders of retro gaming, that the following game should be brought back to life and herby submit this formal request to make it so:”
Panzer Dragoon Saga (1998)
THE PLAYERS: Team Andromeda, Yukio Futatsugi, Manabu Kusunoki,
PLATFORM(S): Sega Saturn
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?
Panzer Dargoon Saga was the third instalment in Panzer Dragoon series, dramatically veering away from arcade focused rail-shooters of the previous two instalments with an engrossing RPG adventure. Critically acclaimed upon release, it was labelled as one of the “most unique” RPG’s of all time and is widely regarded as the greatest title released on Sega’s under performing Saturn console.
It follows the story of a young mercenary named Edge, who is attacked by the mutinous Black Fleet while working for the Empire. He is saved by a mysterious dragon who becomes his steed as he embarks on a perilous journey of revenge against the Black Fleet and its captain, Craymen. However, along the way he uncovers the true motives of the Empire and joins forces with the Black Fleet and the mysterious Azel to bring about the Empire’s downfall.
With cutting edge graphics including extensive FMV sequences, inventive real time strategic gameplay, a wonderfully deep and engaging story, revolutionary voice acting and a mesmerising score, it is reflected upon with such a cherished nostalgia, regularly appearing in lofty positions in poles and lists of the greatest games of the era or indeed greatest RPG’s of all time.
WHY DOES IT NEEDS TO BE REBORN?
Panzer Dragoon Saga‘s only negative was that it was exclusive to a very much under-performing platform, resulting in it being called “the greatest RPG you have never played”. Despite it rivalling, and possibly surpassing, the genre defining Final Fantasy VII, the amount of people that got to experience this utterly mind-blowing game was much smaller than it rightly deserved. As Sega had very much turned their attention to the Dreamcast when Panzer Dragoon Saga was released, only 20,000 copies were released in the west.
It was also undeniably unique and offered a gameplay and story that has never been replicated in the two decades that have followed. The battle system was unlike anything before, with a hybrid real-time/turn-based system that encompassed both the player character and the dragon. Not only was it key to circle opponents and discover their weak spots, you could also morph the dragon to suit the planned attack, increasing a certain stat at the cost of another. The setting and lore of the post-apocalyptic world it takes place in is already primed for more adventures, with so much scope for further adventures. Amazingly, a whole new language called “Panzerese” was created for the franchise, it’s that deep.
Under a new developer, Panzer Dragoon Orta was released on Xbox four years later, but tragically reverted back to a one dimensional rail shooter and was an unworthy successor.
WHAT WOULD WE WANT TO SEE IN ANY REBIRTH?
Simply more of the same. It would be wonderful to see a remastered version with up-to-date graphics and more layers to the story, although FMV sequences aside, it hasn’t aged badly at all. The key is making such a forgotten gem accessible so it can reap the rewards it so richly deserves. Basically any excuse to return to not only this vivid creation, but the deliciously distinctive gameplay that still stands the test of time – remake, reboot, sequel…we’ll take absolutely anything! Even a simple re-release would be reason to rejoice.
IS IT LIKELY?
After its release, Sega disbanded the studio with many of the team joining Konami and it quickly passed into history. Positive news came in 2009 when GameTap announced that they had acquired the rights to the game, but that lead to the horrifying confession from lead designer Yukio Futatsugi that Sega had actually lost the game’s source code, making any future port practically impossible. Add to this the fact that Saturn games are notoriously difficult to emulate, it really doesn’t look likely at all.
Given the rarity of the game, copies can fetch upward of £250 on Ebay – so it’s not as if you can go out and get your hands on a Saturn and a copy of the game easily.
And while a completely new built game is always possible, given the level of mainstream demand for an almost unknown game is pretty non-existent, it would be a massive outlay and risk for any developer who ultimately couldn’t guarantee to replicate the inspirational source.
Tragically, Panzer Dragoon Saga looks as though it is to be confined to the history books and we can only wonder ‘what if?’ Yet anyone who has had the pleasure of experiencing this fantastic game will vividly recall it for the rest of their lives.