25 years of Panzer Dragoon

So as Panzer hits that quarter-century milestone, I’d like to know what your memories of the series are?

I first remember playing Panzer Zwei on the Sega Flash vol 2 demo disc that came with my Saturn! That was enough, for a time. PD wasn’t one of the games that I wanted a Saturn for, but after I had played the ones that I did want I went on a little spree of farming the second-hand aisles of the game stores for any title that remotely interested me and Panzer Dragoon and Panzer Dragoon Zwei made this cut!

I was absolutely awful at both games. I’m probably better now that I’m older, but I just didn’t deal well with the fact that I could be shot from any direction, and so I’d constantly be getting hit from behind, or the side, whilst I was busy looking the other way. Still, after some practice (and help from Pandora’s box…) I made my way through both games. They key thing for me was the way the games presented the story and the world - they give you enough to go on but leave you with a lot of questions to figure out on your own. This left me wanting more, and at this point I already knew Panzer Dragoon Saga was coming so that had been promptly pre-ordered in the hope of learning more about this world!

Of course PDS ended up leaving more questions than answers really and it was in the vain hope of understanding this world that I searched for ‘Panzer Dragoon’ on the internet and came across some site called ‘Azel Online’ that seemed to have a pretty good set of information on the series, which I promptly lapped up. I can’t say I remember exactly how I found ‘Die Welt von Panzer Dragoon’ (which sadly now seems to exist only in references on this site) but this is where I really first started to interact with the community. I believe there was (is?) a Yahoo group, but I never really got involved there. Die Welt was really where the forums blossomed, and discussion exploded. Theories were made, evidence submitted, arguments had, it was glorious! After Die Welt shuttered it’s doors the caravan moved here, and was just as active for a time. All the while we also had an IRC channel!

Panzer Dragoon Orta came and went, and with it more excitement, speculation, and personally frustration as I didn’t feel it was the game we were looking for as a sequel to PDS. But then of course the games dried up, and so did the news, and eventually so did the discussion. But with new games on the horizon and our sparkly new Discord channel hope springs forth anew!

I’ve made friends for life along the way, been to foreign countries and because of this series learned new ways to appreciate media and probably a thing or two about myself too. What are your memories of Panzer Dragoon?

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I first played the series at a friend’s place (on his brother’s Saturn). I was introduced to a few games: NiGHTS, Sega Rally, Sonic 3D, but the one stood out amongst the others was Panzer Dragoon Zwei. There was something very transportive about the game’s world that drew me in. I distinctly remember being captivated by the opening FMV and ruins level, along with Shelcoof, a ship made by some ancients with technology that didn’t feel so ancient.

Not long after that I bought my own Saturn, and not long after that I learnt about Panzer Dragoon Saga. I preordered the game in anticipation for a full RPG set in the same world as Zwei. My uncle and aunt kindly bought me a subscription to the UK Saturn magazine and I remember being amazed when the complete disc 1 arrived in the mail. And then Saga itself arrived which did not disappoint. Exploring Zoah in particular, with all of its secrets, and multiple playthroughs of the game where each time I would notice new things. I remember being quite obsessed with the game at the time (this hasn’t really changed lol). This was in mid 98.

Towards the end of 99 we got this new fangled thing called “the Internet“ at home. I joined the Yahoo! Club (which later became the Yahoo! Group). It was great being able to communicate with other fans, since most others I knew “IRL” hadn’t played Saga or were more interested in mainstream games. Then I found a book in the library about HTML and made a simple website in Notepad by following the tutorial; back then being online was a novel thing, so I called it “Azel Online”. Today I am a professional web developer.

Then Die Welt arrived around the time of Orta’s release, which was great, and finally everyone moved here. The community was at it’s best in those early days when everything was new and the forum was a lot more active.

I’ve particularly enjoyed some of the theories and story discussions we’ve had over the years. I think they must have helped me grow as a critical thinker, as have the games themselves, since both encourage more than one way of looking at things. It’s also helped me appreciate the value in not knowing everything, since the stories are deliberately mysterious, whereas other stories might not leave me with many things to think about after they’ve reached their conclusion.

The community here has been great. I traveled to the UK in 2008/2009 and met some of you face to face, particularly @UrbanReflex. I can’t think of any particularly bad memories from this community either. Because I like the people and games we discuss together I’ve maintained the community all these years. Whereas if it had become toxic or everyone had left, I probably wouldn’t have continued to do so. I tend to move cities every few years, so by contrast it’s been a constant in my life, which is nice.

I guess we’re kind of a backward looking community now with topics such as these, and with the upcoming games, all of which are remakes of a sort, rather than moving the story forward. And that’s probably okay, so long as the games and community don’t disappear. It’s interesting that many of my memories aren’t of gameplay; it’s almost secondary to the other things I’ve gotten out of this series.

I first heard of Panzer Dragoon through a 2002 Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine article titled: The 100 Best Games Ever (issue 150). Panzer Dragoon Saga was ranked at #19, and Panzer Dragoon Zwei at #47. I also found a lot of hidden Saturn gems in this article like Nights into Dreams ranked at #61, Guardian Heroes at #50, and Dragon Force at #21.

Basically, this magazine is what got me into the world of Panzer Dragoon and what made me buy a Saturn in 2002. I started out with Panzer Dragoon Zwei, then the original Panzer Dragoon, then immediately went hunting on Ebay for a copy of Panzer Dragoon Saga. Of which I bought for around $200!

I was amazed at the quality of Panzer Dragoon Saga and it became one of my favorite games of all time. I later joined the site and made my own website PDS Oasis, dedicated solely to Panzer Dragoon Saga itself!

I too loved coming up with and discussing the endless theories of the PD world. It was so engaging and intriguing for me to critically discuss and discover the mysteries of that universe and uncover every bit of lore we could find! From the: language, culture, Ancients and creatures of that world!

Panzer Dragoon Saga also became the basis for how I judge any game’s creative merit. Whether it be: Story, atmosphere, music, art direction, world lore and gameplay. So in short: PDS has influenced my tastes in what I like and look for in any game I buy and has influenced me to buy and become interested in games like:

Nights into Dreams
Skies of Arcadia
Shadow of the Colossus/Ico/TLG
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2
Beyond Good & Evil

And many more…!

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