Posted on October 18th, 2009 in Flashback, PC, Saturn by Axel Night

"What the hell do you mean it doesn’t work?  There’s only a tiny nick on the edge of the disk!"every Sega Saturn user ever

System: Sega Saturn, PC, X-Box (as unlockable)
Year: 1995
Company: Sega
Genre: Rail Shooter

I don’t think this is 178 Maple Ln.  Oh, it’s 178 Maple Ave.  This is the bad part of town, Jalapeno.  Drugs.  Street gangs.  Flying steam-powered battleships.  We’d better get out of here.

The rail shooter is a time-honored tradition.  Like your dad would tell you on road trips, it knows where it is going and it will get there when it gets there.  Unlike road trips, however, you have a gun and waves of enemies are trying to kill you.  No passive aggressive dodging and running away, oh no, only large scale violence and destruction is going to get you out of this one.

Panzer Dragoon, one of the Saturn’s launch titles, is probably one of the greatest rail shooters of all time, if not at least one of the more inspirational to followers in the genre.  You play the part of Keil Fluge, a youth out killing space lobsters or some such, when your adventure finds you witness to a dragon fight.  One rider is shot, and in his last moments alive he gives you his leet epic mount and asks you to finish his quest.  Keil, being nothing like me, accepts said quest implicitly, instead of getting a job as the universe’s most badass pizza delivery boy.  I’m fairly certain no one would stiff a dragon rider on the tip.  I named my dragon Jalapeno!

As the game takes you along its railed quest through various environments, you’ll have limited control over Jalapeno’s position on screen to avoid the occasional low bridge or laser, but if you have need to aim anywhere but ahead, you’ll have to spin the camera about around him instead, because he knows where he’s going and isn’t going to detour for anything.  He has two forms of attack, one of which is your standard, button-mashing, rapid blaster.  The other is a "lock-on" laser.  By holding fire instead of mashing it, any enemy you pass your targeting reticle over will be targetted.  When you release the button, a barrage of lasers will blow out destroying all of them, making large waves of weak enemies much easier to handle.  Each has advantages in different places, and you’ll be using plenty of both.

The Panzer Dragoon franchise went on to do several spin-offs as well as an X-Box sequel more familiar to modern gamers called Panzer Dragoon Orta.  Chances are you don’t have a Sega Saturn like yours truly, but if you’re looking to get into the amazing arcade-style action, feel, and challenge these games had to offer, Orta is backwards compatible on the X-Box 360, and can usually be found on Ebay for relatively cheap.  And as an added bonus, the original Panzer Dragoon is available on it as an unlockable extra.  Now, the question on everyone’s mind, Sega… When do we get a Panzer Dragoon for the Wii?


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