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nine-gear crow
Aug 10, 2013

low vis






For a brief stretch in the mid-90’s, when Sega was still known around the world as a console making company, Panzer Dragoon was the Sega Saturn’s flagship console-selling game, eclipsed only by its successor Panzer Dragoon Saga in terms of critical prestige.

Then Nintendo released the Nintendo 64 in 1996 and the Sega Saturn imploded into a gaming history footnote. Life’s a bitch and then you’re suddenly making games for the guys you ran a multi-million dollar ad campaign snidely mocking.






Panzer Dragoon was released for the Sega Saturn by Sega itself in 1995 as a Saturn launch title. It’s a sci-fi/fantasy rail shooter game in the vein of StarFox and Space Harrier set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland world and centered around a young desert hunter named Kyle Fluge (alternately spelled Keil), and a mysterious armoured blue dragon (named “Lagi” by fans after the name Lundi gives his dragon in the prequel game Panzer Dragoon Zwei).

Kyle stumbles into a battle being waged between Lagi and the evil Dark Dragon. When Lagi’s original rider, a mysterious being known as the Sky Rider, is killed by the Dark Dragon, Kyle takes up the Rider’s quest to stop the Dark Dragon from reaching a structure known as the Tower, and using its power to destroy civilization.

You still with me? Good.

Panzer Dragoon received rave reviews when it debuted in 1995, even being dubbed Electronic Gaming Monthly’s “Best Saturn Game of July 1995”, and later netted the 140th spot in EGM’s “200 Greatest Games of Their Time” list. Four-and-a-half games followed in its wake: Panzer Dragoon Zwei (Saturn 1996), Panzer Dragoon Saga (Saturn 1998), Panzer Dragoon Orta (Xbox 2002), and the series’ spiritual successor, Crimson Dragon (Xbox One 2013), which had a lot of the original PD talent behind it.

The game was developed for the Sega Saturn by Team Andromeda, the in-house Sega production team that later became SmileBit when they made Panzer Dragoon Orta for Microsoft. Nowadays they’re known as Sega Sports R&D and are responsible for all those Mario & Sonic at the Olympics games that come out every two years. They’re also the guys behind Jet Set Radio and Jet Set Radio Future for the Dreamcast and Xbox, respectively.

Panzer Dragoon later received a PC port by Team Andromeda and a PlayStation2 remake by Land Ho Studios, though the PS2 Panzer Dragoon was never released outside of Japan. There’s also an enhanced remake of the original Panzer Dragoon bundled with Panzer Dragoon Orta and is unlockable after you beat Orta on Normal mode or higher. Beating the remake of Panzer Dragoon in Orta allows you to transform Orta’s dragon into Lagi (also known as the “Solo Wing” form in Saga) when replaying the game.

There was also something called “Panzer Dragoon R-Zone” for something called the R-Zone. …I don’t have anything to say about that one.


Also, if you’re interested, the goings on in this game might make a little bit more sense after reading through Twxabfn’s LP of Panzer Dragon Saga. Likewise, Panzer Dragoon Orta was LP’d by gravitypenguin but never archived, so you’ll need Archives privileges to view it. No one’s attempted an LP of Panzer Dragoon Zwei yet… to my knowledge, anyway.




With commentary by: nine-gear crow, Blind Sally, and TravelLog


















This game has a bitchin’ soundtrack that I implore all of you listen to at least once because it’s kind of lost in the din of Blind Sally, TravelLog and myself making smartass comments about the game’s contextless happenings.

It was composed by Yoshitaka Azuma aka AZUMA, who set the standard of Panzer Dragoon-related IPs having amazing-sounding scores. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like he did anything else of note outside of the Panzer Dragoon series. He contributed to the score for Orta and the hillaribad Panzer Dragoon OVA, but that’s about it. The rest of the series’ soundtrack was handled by human ear-orgasm heretofore known as Saori Kobayashi.

TRACKLIST
1. Main Theme
2. Opening Theme
3. Flight (Episode 1)
4. Sudden Change (Episode 1 & 3 boss)
5. Worms (Episode 2)
6. Confrontation (Episode 2 boss)
7. Empire (Episode 3)
8. Departed Spirit (Episode 4) – LISTEN TO THIS ONE
9. Creature Revived (Episode 4 boss) – LISTEN TO THIS ONE
10. Raid (Episode 5)
11. Flagship (Episode 5 boss)
12. The Imperial District Goes Up In Flames (Episode 6)
13. The Tower Activates (Episode 6 post-level cutscene)
14. Final Decision (Final Boss theme)
15. Game Over
16. Parting
17. Staff Roll








Panzer Dragoon owes its inspiration to two very esoteric sources. The first was Frank Herbert’s legendary sci-fi novel Dune. The game pulls a lot of inspiration from the setting and story arc of the novel and its sequels, as well as the 1984 film adaptation of the same name by David Lynch. The Panzer Dragoon world has so much Arrakis in it, it hurts sometimes.




The other inspiration was the artwork of the French surrealist artist Mœbius (aka Jean Giraud, 1938-2012). More specifically, it drew inspiration from his graphic novel Arzach, about a silent protagonist who rides a pterodactyl around a desolate desert-like post-apocalyptic landscape. Are we seeing any connections yet? It was originally serialized in the magazine Heavy Metal and also served as the inspiration for the “Taarna” vignette in the 1981 animated film of the same name.

A lot of the creatures, landscapes and aircraft in Panzer Dragoon and its sequels were based off of Mœbius’s artwork, and Team Andromeda even commissioned him to design the cover artwork for the Japanese version of the game, seen here:



He also did this piece for the game depicting an Imperial Fleet detachment on the move.









Urgh… I guess I can’t really sweep this one under the rug if I’m being comprehensive, can I?

After the game became a modest hit, Production I.G, the guys behind The End of Evangelion, the various Ghost in the Shell productions, and the animated cutscenes from Xenogears, among other things… well, they made this. An Anime Abandon episode waiting to happen.

Paging Bennett White…

The half-hour OVA essentially takes the “plot” of Panzer Dragoon, for lack of a better term for it and smothers it in a generic lovely mid-90’s bargain bin anime plot. This time, instead of just trying to stop the Dark Dragon from destroying the world, Kyle must also rescue his girlfriend Alita, who has become the Dark Dragon’s rider for… reasons. And save the world from the Tower’s magic bullshit too.

Basically:

No one liked it, neither in its time or today and it was quickly swept into the dustbin of bad ideas. Even the folks who run The Will of the Ancients, the Panzer Dragoon fansite that I'll be liberally quoting from over the course of this LP, absolutely hate it. It's apparently up on YouTube in segments, if you're curious enough to try and watch it.

I sure as hell ain't.

nine-gear crow fucked around with this message at 11:01 on Oct 9, 2014

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nine-gear crow
Aug 10, 2013

low vis







Let’s jump right in with the game’s intro, shall we.

The game starts off with a series of infodump title cards:









Sets the stage well enough, no? I’ll give you my brief rundown on things and then I’ll let the guys from The Will of the Ancients give you their take on what the hell is happening in this opening.


You really can’t see it because of the terrible image quality, but that right there is the Tower, a massive artificial monolith located just off the coast of the Imperial Capital in the Panzer Dragoon world, one of a vast array of towers scattered across the world. It’s a massive mysterious device of ancient origin created in the time before the world went to crap.

The Empire is trying to excavate it and other ancient artifacts to fuel its war machine and take over the world. Of course.

However, in their poking and prodding at it, they awaken something. A thundering artificial voice booms from the tower itself: “Unit 01 activated. Unit 02 activated. Commence final program sequence.” This is the voice of Sestren, the artificial intelligence that regulates the towers’ environmental control systems and threat neutralization protocols.

Sestren has awoken and deemed all humanity a threat to its continued existence and sets in motion a plan to wipe it out using one of its bio-engineered weapons: the Dark Dragon.


Meanwhile, in the desert, we meet our protagonist for the game: Kyle Fluge. Kyle is a nomadic hunter travelling with his three companions.


In the midst of their hunt, they spot an Imperial Airship searching for the Dark Dragon in order to intercept and destroy it before it reaches the Tower. Imperial technology is easily identifiable as a mix of practical steel and iron hulls attached to massive marble-like "lift engines", pieces of ancient technology that almost seem geological in origin capable of defying the laws of gravity and floating in midair.

The empire has harnessed these engines from various ruins around the planet and built a massive and imposing air fleet with them.


This is one of the “Pure Type” monsters produced by Sestren. They respond directly to its will, as they were specifically manufactured by it. Anything that has this white enameled armour on it is a Pure Type.

We’ll be encountering Pure Types later in the game in droves. A lot of the other biological enemies we’ll be encountering are mutated descendants of the original Pure Types from the ancient age, who have degraded through centuries of unchecked breeding and are now wild and free from Sestren’s control.


This is the Dark Dragon. The central antagonist of the game. We’ll be tangling with this thing quite a bit as the game progresses.


You can see the size disparity between the Dark Dragon and Lagi as they duel.


And also the sheer power the Dark Dragon possesses.


This, meanwhile, is the Sky Rider, a drone created by Sestren to pilot Lagi. The Dark Dragon also has a drone pilot too, that’s occasionally glimpsed in-game.

You’re probably wondering why I said Sestren created Lagi. Well, it did, originally. However, the program that was responsible for engineering it rebelled against Sestren and decided it was going to help humanity survive and created the Blue Dragon, referred to as the “Heresy Dragon” to fight against Sestren and its minions like the Dark Dragon and the Pure Types. It also, supposedly, created the Sky Rider, because a dragon in this game can only operate at full efficiency if it has a rider, natural or otherwise.


However, in the Sky Rider is killed by a shot from the Dark Dragon’s drone.


And the Dark Dragon zooms off triumphantly, nothing seemingly standing in its way to the Tower now.


But then the Sky Rider dumps the game in Kyle’s lap with its last breaths.


It passes a vision on to Kyle.






And then he dies.


And Lagi is sad.


Kyle picks up the Sky Rider’s blaster and decides to be a hero.




And he leaves his friends behind, because, not only is he a silent protagonist, he’s also kind of an a-hole.


And thus begins Panzer Dragoon.

Now here’s Will of the Ancients’ take on it:

Will of the Ancients posted:


General Summary
It was roughly eighteen years after the events of Panzer Dragoon Zwei that the Sestren AI relocated the Heresy Program, the renegade entity that had been ejected from the Ancient Age data network. The Sestren AI once again responded by activating one of the world’s ancient Towers, with the intention of annihilating the Heresy Program once and for all.

This particular Tower protruded from the ocean off the coast of the Empire’s capital city, and it had recently been discovered by the Empire itself. The Tower’s guardian - known as the Dark Dragon - was also awakened, although its place of slumber was far away; the terrible creature had a long journey ahead of it.

---

Opening Sequence
Out in the endless wastelands of the world many humans have lived and still live as nomads, surviving by hunting the mutated monsters that roam the lands. Kyle Fluge was one such hunter, and one day while he and his companions were out riding in the desert, they were surprised to see an Imperial battleship pass over the canyon they were in.

They did not have much time to ponder why a ship would be flying alone in this area though, as they were soon attacked by a group of large, mutated sand mites called burrowers. Determined to stop the last beast from escaping, Kyle followed it all the way to the canyon’s end: where the entrance to an Ancient Age structure stood open, yawning out of the sandy rock that had consumed the ruin.

Venturing inside, Kyle found the ruins silent and inactive. He eventually stumbled across the carcass of the burrower however, as the creature had been killed by an enormous pure-type monster. This beast crushed the coolia that Kyle had been riding, and it pursued him into the ruins; unfortunately for Kyle, the monster was impervious to the relatively primitive hunter’s weapons that he was carrying. Finding himself cornered by the beast, it seemed that Kyle was finished.

To Kyle’s surprise though, he was saved at the last second when a collapse of rock from the ceiling crushed the monster to death. Looking up, Kyle saw two dragons dive through the hole blown in the ceiling; one of them was the dragon guided by the Heresy Program, and the other was the Dark Dragon, which was viciously pursuing it. The dragons’ battle soon decimated the ruin complex, and Kyle was knocked unconscious during an enormous explosion.

When Kyle awoke, he found himself on a high plateau where the wall of the ruin had been blasted away; high above the plain beyond, the dragons were duelling in the open sky.

The dragon guided by the Heresy Program had a rider at this time, an individual known as the Sky Rider, although very little has ever been revealed about this mysterious character. As with all of the riders though, he was deeply motivated to help his dragon fulfil its purpose. Taking various pieces of evidence into account, it seems almost certain that the Sky Rider was a Drone, one of the humanoid bio-engineered creatures that were created long ago in the Ancient Age.

In the heat of battle the Sky Rider was distracted for one brief moment, and because of this he received a fatal laser blast through his chest: his adventure, whatever it had truly been, came to an end. The Dark Dragon flew away, heading ever onwards towards its destination: the Tower off the Imperial coastline.

The Sky Rider’s dragon lowered itself onto the plateau before Kyle, and the wounded Sky Rider reached out his hand to the young hunter. In the same way that Lagi showed Lundi glimpses of the future at the end of Panzer Dragoon Zwei, the Sky Rider imparted a psychic vision to Kyle, asking him to take his place, to prevent the Dark Dragon from returning to the Tower. The Sky Rider then fell to the dusty ground, lifeless; the dragon let out a piercing cry of sorrow.

Taking up the Sky Rider’s ancient weapon, Kyle knew what he must do. Climbing aboard the creature’s back, Kyle ascended into the clear sky, determined to help the dragon fulfil its mission.









So the game is divided into levels referred to as "Episodes". There's seven episodes in total numbed 1 through 6, and the final one being called "Last Episode."

Episode 1 takes place in an aquatic ruin stage. We pick up almost immediately from the opening cinematic and are flying through the sunken remains of a city that was built in the middle of a massive lake, for whatever reason.

There's not all that much to say about this stage lore-wise, so I'll just turn it over to the boys from WotA to take it from here.

Will of the Ancients posted:


Episode 1

Beyond the parched desert lands a vast body of water opened up, and Kyle and the dragon flew out over the waves. Soon they found themselves passing through a mysterious sunken city, a sprawling ruin that continued to crumble into the waves even as they watched. The place was populated by various kinds of mutated monsters, strange species that had descended from the bio-engineered creatures of the Ancient Age.

Kyle and the dragon entered the flooded halls of a great ruined building, but without warning the structure was blasted apart by the Imperial battleship that Kyle had seen flying over the desert. Presumably the Empire was searching for the dragon, eager to harness the immense power that it represented; the ship violently attacked them, but, armed with the superior combat abilities of the dragon, Kyle was able to destroy the hostile ship and escape with his life.

At the end of the stage we encounter our first boss of the game...




What is there really to say about this thing other than ? If nothing else, it proves what a force to be reckoned with Lagi and Kyle are right out of the gate. It also proves how much the Empire kind of sucks in general, a recurring theme throughout the Panzer Dragoon games.

The Imperial Airship Miserable Failure is the same battleship glimpsed in the opening cinematic. This is a standard fare Imperial battleship, and we'll be seeing them with some regularity throughout the game.

It has a few attacks. First off it has six escort craft accompanying it that try to attack you. Then it tries to attack you with its bow and stern mounted turrets. Then it launches its reserve fighters to try and take you out. And finally, it launches a trio of high-yield missiles at you to try and shoot you out of the sky. And if you manage to destroy all of those, it's completely defenceless for the rest of the fight.


...Why has ball-numbing incompetence become a staple of my LPs?





And then to end the level, we're treated to a rare story cutscene and a brief glimpse at the Imperial POV. This rather decently sized fleet is only a small chunk of the main Imperial fleet we'll eventually have to blast our way through to get to the Tower. That big blue hexagon in the middle with the six dunce caps on is apparently the Imperial flagship.

Don't worry, the Empire gets slightly better at designing flagships as they go on. Case in point, the IAS Vermana from Panzer Dragoon Orta.


Like I say in the video, because we blew up the IAS Miserable Failure, the Empire is now aware of our presence on the battlefield. And being the greedy bastards they are, they have decided they want to capture both Lagi and the Dark Dragon and co-opt them into their war machine. Kyle? Probably not so much.







Anyway, here's some pretty behind-the-scenes artwork from the first level from Lagi: The Art of Panzer Dragoon, which is hosted on a sub-section of Will of the Ancients. These two images depict sketches of some of the enemies encountered in Episode 1 and a per-production sketch of the domed palace we fly through at the end of the stage before the boss fight.


Characters
Kyle Fluge (Game protagonist. Member of the Hunters)
Sky Rider (Lagi's previous rider before Kyle)
Jean Jacque Lundi (Panzer Dragoon Zwei protagonist. Believed to be the first human to encounter the Heresy Dragon, AKA Lagi)
Lagi (Solo Wing type dragon. Second incarnation of the Heresy Dragon)

Creatures
The Heresy Dragon (Protector of mankind from Sestren)
The Dark Dragon (and Rider) (Game antagonist)
Pure-Type Monsters (Bio-engineered minions of Sestren)

History
The Tower
Sestren (Artificial intelligence responsible for rehabilitating the devastated world. Antagonistic to human life)
"Panzerese" (The language of the Panzer Dragoon world, a combination of Japanese, Latin, Ancient Greek, and Russian phonetics created by Panzer Dragoon producer Yukio Futatsugi)

Politics
Hunters (Nomadic desert-dwellers. Kyle's people. Shunned by the Empire)
The Old Empire (Autocratic dictatorship. Attempting to conquer the known world through superior military might)
The Ancients (Extinct civilization responsible for creating Sestren, the Towers, the Dragons, and the Pure-Types, among other things)
The Technology Preservation Faction (An Ancient organization directly responsible for the creation of Sestren and the Towers)

Locations
The Lake

Uuhh...
Alita (Panzer Dragoon OVA-exclusive character. Kyle's girlfriend. Possessed by the Dark Dragon and becomes its rider. Blame Production I.G)

nine-gear crow fucked around with this message at 04:51 on Jun 28, 2014

geri_khan
May 16, 2009

Fucking blocks... I'm gonna climb the shit outta you!


Oh hey, it's that game I forgot to LP!

Love this thing. Got Panzer Dragoon with my Saturn (back when it cost £400 at launch, loving hell I was incredibly stupid. Sega Magazine had me brainwashed) and it was utterly amazing at the time. Graphics aren't so hot now but it had a unique design and style that still shines through in my opinion (including that made up language!) And that music, it's excellent.

I totally have a PAL copy of Saga, by the way. But it's been opened and the box is a bit dented.

Blindsided Sally
Jan 9, 2007


Don't post Small Dash!


Yeah, I don't feel the game has aged as well as others, but that soundtrack definitely stands out as being particularly brilliant.

Also, those SEGA mock ads are some of my favourite things to come out of the 90s. They're so petty.

anilEhilated
Feb 17, 2014

But I say fuck the rain.



Grimey Drawer

So how much control do you actually have? You say you're on rails and then comment on how you crashed into the environment - is it free movement within a box ala shumps?

geri_khan
May 16, 2009

Fucking blocks... I'm gonna climb the shit outta you!


anilEhilated posted:

So how much control do you actually have? You say you're on rails and then comment on how you crashed into the environment - is it free movement within a box ala shumps?

When facing forward it's like Starfox, so within a box. Once you turn your view to the back or sides the dragon does all the piloting. I think there are sections where you're supposed to be dodging stuff and the dragon will fly into it if you're looking the wrong way.

Blindsided Sally
Jan 9, 2007


Don't post Small Dash!


Yeah, pretty much that. You're basically flying through a tunnel made of invisible walls and you can dodge enemies and projectiles within your limited movement.

Oh, and I realized why I thought Kyle and his friends looked like Star War Rebel Alliance soldiers in the Intro video:

TapamN
Jan 10, 2008


Saying that it's like Star Fox isn't completely accurate. In Star Fox 64, you control the Arwing directly and the cursor follows it. In Panzer Dragoon, you control the cursor directly and the dragon follows it. So if you've played Sonic Adventure, it's exactly like the Sky Chase levels.

It's kind of weird seeing the game run at normal speed. Whenever I play, I almost always use the "wizard mode" cheat to turn of the frame rate limiter because I'd rather play at a somewhat unstable 30 FPS than at 20 FPS.

nine-gear crow
Aug 10, 2013

low vis




TapamN posted:

Saying that it's like Star Fox isn't completely accurate. In Star Fox 64, you control the Arwing directly and the cursor follows it. In Panzer Dragoon, you control the cursor directly and the dragon follows it. So if you've played Sonic Adventure, it's exactly like the Sky Chase levels.

It's kind of weird seeing the game run at normal speed. Whenever I play, I almost always use the "wizard mode" cheat to turn of the frame rate limiter because I'd rather play at a somewhat unstable 30 FPS than at 20 FPS.

That's the joke I make in the cheat video; that Wizard Mode is actually "normal framerate mode".

TravelLog
Jul 22, 2013

He's a mean one, Mr. Roy.


This thing has a soundtrack? Wow were we talkative!

Geop
Oct 26, 2007



Flight has to be one of my favorite tracks of all time It's gorgeous. Folks who haven't heard it definitely need to give it a listen.

Also, it's a shame we didn't see more of this series past Orta. There was some Xbox One game that these dudes made (Crimson Dragon, mentioned in the OP), but I heard it flopped

Geop fucked around with this message at 21:31 on May 16, 2014

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


This series is one of my old favorites, ever since I first played Zwei on a buddy's Sega Saturn ages ago in elementary school. Love the setting, the concept, the art, and the gameplay, and like Geop said, Flight (and the main theme) are amazing.

aidenyx
Jan 15, 2008



Really excited to see this. Zwei was one of my favorite games as a kid, but I never had a chance to play the first one. Only saw a few screen shots of it, and I remember thinking the aiming reticle was the coolest thing ever, what with it being all 3D and stuff.

Looking forward to more episodes.

nine-gear crow
Aug 10, 2013

low vis




Although I'm partial to Departed Spirit and Creature Revived because they rock out so hard, Flight is an absolutely magical track too. As are the Main Theme and Staff Roll, which sound almost like they belong in a Miazaki film or something.


I guess Crimson Dragon bombed because the developers thought it would be a good idea to throw an awful grindy spreadsheet RPG element and mandatory Kinect gimmicks into a blender with Panzer Dragoon Orta. Eh, at least the soundtrack for it is still amazing.


I just want to do a quick thread poll here before I get to work on Episode 2. I have a copy of Orta with a clear save file and access to the Panzer Dragoon remake. Would anyone be interested if I were to append the Cheats & Secrets video with some footage from the Xbox remake of the game?

geri_khan
May 16, 2009

Fucking blocks... I'm gonna climb the shit outta you!


nine-gear crow posted:

I just want to do a quick thread poll here before I get to work on Episode 2. I have a copy of Orta with a clear save file and access to the Panzer Dragoon remake. Would anyone be interested if I were to append the Cheats & Secrets video with some footage from the Xbox remake of the game?

Never had an Xbox, so absolutely interested.

One question, were you planning for this thread to be a series LP or just the original? As much as I enjoyed PD, Zwei is by far the superior game.

Blindsided Sally
Jan 9, 2007


Don't post Small Dash!


It was originally intended to be just the original. A short LP to act as a palette cleanser between other larger projects that crow and I are working on. That said, there's the option for to evolve into something more. We don't want to spread ourselves too thin, but crow does have a copy of Orta. For any other copy of the game we'd need people in the thread to help LP them if we wanted to make this a series megathread.

nine-gear crow
Aug 10, 2013

low vis




The original idea was just to LP the original game, though I mulled over LPing Zwei when I first considered it because I do own a copy of Zwei as well. The only complication is that it was a recent thrift store purchase and I haven't even played it yet. And I don't want to do a "wacky blind LP" for a game as beloved as Panzer Dragoon Zwei.

That doesn't mean I might not do it later though. If there's enough demand for it, I might look into LPing Orta as well simply because gravitypenguin's Orta LP is lost to the forum archives.

The only game that I'm 100% NOT LPing is Saga, because it's prohibitively expensive to get a copy of it, and I feel Twxabfn did the definitive LP on it and I don't want to steal their thunder.



That being said... Like Blind Sally suggested, if anyone wants to take a swing at LPing Zwei, Saga, or Orta before I'm done with Eins* The retroactive fan-title of the original PD (), I would be more than happy to make this into a consolidated Panzer Dragoon megathread as well as do image work for your updates too.

Because now that this LP has gone live there's a distinct Zwei-shaped hole in the series just begging to be filled by someone.

Kaboom Dragoon
May 7, 2010

The greatest of feasts



I'd like to see someone do Orta, at the very least. I have a copy somewhere, but I was never able to get too far in it.

Isn't the PD remake in Orta just the Windows port of the game?

TravelLog
Jul 22, 2013

He's a mean one, Mr. Roy.


nine-gear crow posted:

And I don't want to do a "wacky blind LP" for a game as beloved as Panzer Dragoon Zwei.

You mean we can't LP Zwei with the gimmick of it being a graduate-level biology course about dragons? Nine, if that's wrong, then boy I don't want to be right.

nine-gear crow
Aug 10, 2013

low vis






Episode 2 is the level that came bundled with the launch-era Sega Saturn on a demo disc. It was one of two demos that Sega included with the Saturn to try and entice people to pick up some games for their penultimate console outing. The first one was of course Panzer Dragoon, and the second one was Bug!. One became a hit that to this day is fondly remember by gamers the world over. The other... was Bug!.

The game's intro plays ahead of the demo like normal, but then it dumps you into Episode 2 without any more context to it. The demo also doesn't feature the fight with the Dark Dragon at the end. After the tussle with the two sandworms at the end of the level, the demo just fades to black and the words "TO BE CONTINUED" flash up followed by an ad prompting you to buy the full version of Panzer Dragoon.


As Blind Sally and TravelLog point out, this is the Dune level of the game. The most obvious examples of this are that it’s a desert stage and it’s bookended by the massive sandworms that appear at the beginning and end of the level.

The title of the song that plays over the level is called “Worms” and it’s also what I’ve decided to title this update.

See here the comparison between the worms that appear in this stage and the Shai-Hulud from Dune.




In the video Blind Sally questions whether or not the Emperor of the Panzer Dragoon world is actually Baron Harkonnen from Dune.

What do you guys think?

Left: The Seventh Emperor
Right: Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.

Despite the ubiquity of the Empire in the game, the Seventh Emperor doesn’t show up in the original Panzer Dragoon, but he is a fairly major player in Panzer Dragoon Saga. His predecessor, the Sixth Emperor, is also glimpsed in Panzer Dragoon Zwei.

A gigantic statue of him mounted on one of the New Empire’s massive dreadnaughts serves as the boss for the “Gigantic Fleet” level of Panzer Dragoon Orta.


Also to further the Panzer Dragoon-Dune connection, in Panzer Dragoon Zwei one level shows the PD world with two moons in the sky.



According to the Dune novels, the planet Arrakis also has two moons in orbit around it. However, some people use this as evidence that the Panzer Dragoon series is actually taking place on Mars and that those two moons are Deimos and Phobos.

There hasn’t been any word one way or another from Team Andromeda on what or where the Panzer Dragoonp world is.


One last thing before moving on:


At the end of the stage you fight a pair of worms as an optional boss. You really don't need to kill either of them to trigger the final the boss. However, one of the two worms has a darker carapace to it than the other. I don't know what the significance to that is, but I'm pretty sure one if male while the other is female.


And now I’ll let the boys for WotA wrap things up.

The Will of the Ancients posted:

Episode 2

Over dry land again, the familiar desert of the world stretched out to the edge of vision. This arid region also swarmed with all manner of mutated monsters, including a species of enormous and ravenous sandworms.

It was in this desert that Kyle first caught up with the Dark Dragon, and the two dragons engaged in vicious combat amidst the writhing sandstorms. The Dark Dragon took many hits, but unfortunately it was able to boost away and vanish into the distance before Kyle and the dragon could really damage it; their mission was destined to continue.





Episode 2 sees our first of several confrontations with the Dark Dragon in the game.

He's fought in the midst of a pair of twisters, however the cyclones themselves aren't any threat to us.

As seen in the video, the double D has three attacks that it cycles through. First it positions itself in front of you and fires of a set of orange energy waves from its back about three or four times. These are very hard to dodge on Hard mode and incredibly easy to dodge in Easy.

It's second attack is its own version of the lock on charged attack that Lagi has. It fires off a pair of gigantic homing missiles at you, though they're incredibly easy to shoot down before they hit you. Even on hard mode.

The last attack is done by it's drone. It takes a couple of potshots at you with its own laser blaster trying to goad you into dodging. What you actually need to do is remain still and let the shots fly past you.

Once you figure out the pattern, the Dark Dragon goes down pathetically easy. So easy that I kill it before I even get finishing describing its attack pattern in the video.







Characters
The Seventh Emperor (Seventh emperor of mankind. Has anti-gravity chair. Fat rear end in a top hat.)
Baron Vladimir Harkonnen - Dune (Patriarch of House Harkonnen. Has anti-gravity chair. Fat rear end in a top hat.)

Creatures
Shai-Hulud - Dune (Massive worm-like creatures native to the deserts of Planet Arrakis)
The Guardian (Armed and armoured statue crafted in memory of the Seventh Emperor. Fat rear end in a top hat.)

Locations
Panzer Dragoon world (Planet Arrakis?)

Blindsided Sally
Jan 9, 2007


Don't post Small Dash!


I would, of course, be remiss if I didn't mention the very best Dune reference of all time.

nine-gear crow
Aug 10, 2013

low vis




I had no idea that was a Dune reference. Brilliant song and brilliant video thought. One of my favourites.

nine-gear crow
Aug 10, 2013

low vis








For better or worse, there’s not that much to this stage to explain, really. Kyle and Lagi fly through an area that just happens to be an Imperial excavation site and the Empire panics and tries to kill both them of them, but fails spectacularly.

Then they send out the stupidest boss ever to act as their hail mary. …Jesus.

The Will of the Ancients posted:

Episode 3

Kyle’s pursuit took him through an Imperial excavation site in the depths of night; these excavations were the source of the Empire’s technology, and they had sites like this one throughout the Continent. Floodlights picked out a multitude of Ancient Age ruins and relics embedded in the rock faces all around.

Upon sighting the dragon, the Empire again tried to take it down by force. This time Kyle was facing much more than just a single battleship though, as a small fleet was stationed at the site, and mounted artillery rained gunfire on the dragon as it passed. A massive Imperial combat vessel was also waiting for them there, a monstrosity that hovered through the air on helicopter-like engines and bounded along on massive hydraulic legs. After a considerable battle the dragon succeeded in downing the vessel, and with Imperial fighter ships still in close pursuit, the creature dived into the open mouth of the Ancient Age ruin itself.




…Sigh. Ceiling fan. Lamp. Pogo stick. I unapologetically love the designs of most of the Empire’s vehicles. …And I’m not even going to defend this thing.

Anyway, in terms of gameplay, this boss certainly is interesting compared to the Imperial Battleship and the Dark Dragon. It’s the most kinetic of the bosses we’ve faced, at least in its second stage, and it also has the largest variety of attacks to it so far.

In its first stage you have to thread the needle going either above or below its massive fan blades. If you don’t clear the blade properly, you take damage. And the really frustrating part that you can see in the video is that there’s no real (obvious) indication of which blades you need to go over and which ones you need to go under. The game just seems to make it up as it goes along and by the time the blade comes close enough for you to gauge what direction you need to fly in, it’s too late to dodge it anyway. And it also reverses itself every few rotations.

One thing that I will cop to liking about the design of it is that it’s clearly a) a partially excavated piece of hardware and b) has seen better days. The ends of the blades are all frayed and you can see almost like rebar or something similar jutting out of the splintered patches. It does a nifty job of visual inferred storytelling, as in this thing was excavated by the Empire, slapped on a chassis of their own making, and then used as-is because they don’t have the means or the knowledge to repair it properly. And that makes me kind of

As for its second form, well, then it turns into the titular Jolly Jumper. It bounds around you and launches a certain pattern of attacks. Step one is it lands right in front of you and tries to stab you with one of its blades—easily avoidable. Step is it shoots off a bunch of blasts similar to what the turrets on the Imperial Battleship from Episode 1 did—again you can nullify each of these with your regular blaster. And step three is it shoots off those sort of drill-head missiles with the bright orange flame trails seen midway through this episode here—there’s three ways to deal with these: shoot down the sabots with a lock on shot before they fly ahead of you and launch the missiles back at you, shoot down the missiles after they’ve armed with your regular laser, or just dodge them completely because they don’t actually home in in you.

The third stage of the boss fight is predicate on what area of the boss you targeted the most during the second stage. If you damaged the top section mostly (the fan), then it will be destroyed and you will face the bottom section, which just jumps around impotently at you and maybe fires off a few potshots of its own. If you destroy the bottom section, then the top fan part will fly around and starts spinning and try to buzzsaw you to death in midair.

I gotta say, that’s more words than I expected to write on this thing. So here’s some artwork to make up for that:


nine-gear crow fucked around with this message at 09:20 on May 26, 2014

Blindsided Sally
Jan 9, 2007


Don't post Small Dash!


Of all the levels in the game, I feel this one is the least interesting visually. Which is unfortunate, because I feel the backgrounds should be exciting to look at in a rail-shooter. The first stage had the really cool sunken-fantasy-city aesthetic going on, and the second stage was a fantastic homage to Dune. Here it's a just a dark brown muddy corridor. There seem to be ancient wrecks that the Empire is digging up, but it's all too dark to see anything.

Then, of course, there's the boss. Thanks for fixing the music during that fight, crow. I appreciate it.


Also, what is up with that ship at the very bottom. I remember seeing it during our play through. It's entirely too phallic looking. Is the Empire compensating for something?

nine-gear crow
Aug 10, 2013

low vis




Panzer Dragoon really is a game where the developers' vision simply exceeded the hardware limitations of the day. Its a welcome change from LPing a game where the developer's vision exceeded thier competence.

This is one game I'd love to see get a full HD remake, but alas I don't think it was ever that popular to begin with so it probably won't.

sulovilen
May 6, 2013


Am I missing something or are the links to the videos broken? I just noticed this LP and it seems intriguing!

nine-gear crow
Aug 10, 2013

low vis




The links all work when I checked them. Click the red "YouTube" images and they'll take you to the videos.

TravelLog
Jul 22, 2013

He's a mean one, Mr. Roy.


nine-gear crow posted:

The links all work when I checked them.

Whether the nonsensical (though entertaining!) Dune parody you will find yourself viewing is worth it is a different matter entirely!

Blindsided Sally
Jan 9, 2007


Don't post Small Dash!


TravelLog posted:

Whether the nonsensical (though entertaining!) Dune parody you will find yourself viewing is worth it is a different matter entirely!



Of course it's worth viewing!

TravelLog
Jul 22, 2013

He's a mean one, Mr. Roy.


I don't know…that guest Nine and Sally brought on kind of ruins it for me.

nine-gear crow
Aug 10, 2013

low vis




TravelLog posted:

I don't know…that guest Nine and Sally brought on kind of ruins it for me.

Don't worry. We won't make that mistake again.

Until we have you on for the Killzone LP.

sulovilen
May 6, 2013


nine-gear crow posted:

The links all work when I checked them. Click the red "YouTube" images and they'll take you to the videos.

It seems like Chrome doesn't want to show the "Youtube" images for whatever reason, IE displays them correctly though. Oh well, time to put the little buddy to work!

e: Thanks Roluth, Adblock was to blame.
e2: In Soviet Russia LP follows you!

sulovilen fucked around with this message at 06:46 on May 27, 2014

Roluth
Apr 22, 2014



sulovilen posted:

It seems like Chrome doesn't want to show the "Youtube" images for whatever reason, IE displays them correctly though. Oh well, time to put the little buddy to work!

From what I'm seeing, apparently AdBlock thinks that the Youtube links are ads. I've also seen this happening on the tasvideos site. Looks like the filter is a bit too zealous.

E: Apparently, this originates from the Social Blocking List that comes with the AdBlock. Apparently, those images are tracking you

Roluth fucked around with this message at 06:40 on May 27, 2014

cuddle bug
Oct 30, 2008

Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.


Roluth posted:

E: Apparently, this originates from the Social Blocking List that comes with the AdBlock. Apparently, those images are tracking you

Wait, what? Is this seriously a thing that can happen?

cuddle bug fucked around with this message at 00:14 on May 28, 2014

nine-gear crow
Aug 10, 2013

low vis




I looked it up online. It's a blanket block thing that has nothing to do with the videos or the images.

One of the things the blocklist flags are images named *youtube.png. And the images I'm using for the YouTube links are literally called youtube.png.

So nothing's tracking you or spying on you or anything, it's just a case of an overzealous adblock listing. That's all.

Please keep watching my LP.

Roluth
Apr 22, 2014



nine-gear crow posted:

I looked it up online. It's a blanket block thing that has nothing to do with the videos or the images.

One of the things the blocklist flags are images named *youtube.png. And the images I'm using for the YouTube links are literally called youtube.png.

So nothing's tracking you or spying on you or anything, it's just a case of an overzealous adblock listing. That's all.

Please keep watching my LP.

Hey, don't worry about it. How could you know? I've already got an exception just for these images. Easy to remedy.

Content: Years ago, 12 year old me once sperged about dragons a lot and I once got an interest in playing some of the Saturn games, especially Saga. Good thing I had enough sense back then to not ask my parents to spend $120+ on one game! Even for Chirstmas, the Season of Games Raining From the Sky! Nice to have a way to see these games without breaking the bank.

Roluth fucked around with this message at 02:58 on May 28, 2014

nine-gear crow
Aug 10, 2013

low vis






This stage has just about the best music in the entire game, both for the stage itself and the subsequent boss battle. Just throwing that out there.




So if the last stage was the above ground Imperial dig site, this stage is the below ground dig site. This tunnel is one of many such tunnels across the Panzer Dragoon world. Tunnel levels like this one are sort of a one-a-game staple of the Panzer Dragoon series.

It’s down in these tunnels where we start encountering Pure Type monsters with some regularity. You can’t really tell at first blush, but there’s actually a part in the level where you stop encountering Imperial fighters and start encountering nothing but Pure Types until you hit the boss. The in-story implication is that either the Empire has only reclaimed a certain extent of the tunnels from the Pure Types, or that their pursuit of Kyle and Lagi into the tunnel woke up all the nesting Pure Types and they killed the Imperial units in the three-way firefight with Kyle and Lagi.

Or so I’d like to think.

There’s also these rooms that show up a few times over the course of the stage:



TravelLog points out in the video that these curious cavernous rooms appear to be littered with piles of bones. And I’m inclined to agree with him. They always looked like weird mass graves and were incredibly unsettling to fly through, even as a kid.

Again, I don’t really have a lore explanation for this other than more subtle implied stuff. Because Pure Types are still living creatures, they still need to eat things. So I got a feeling that these rooms are either some kind of communal feeding ground or refuse disposal pits for the Pure Types, who either corral prey who wander into the tunnels into rooms like these and feed on them, or just a place to dump the bodies of their carrion after they were finished feeding.

Because every K-A-rated mid-90’s video game designed for kids needs a subtle element of to it.

And on that note, here’s WotA’s summary of this Episode:

The Will of the Ancients posted:

EPISODE 4

The ruin complex was a dark and ancient labyrinth; ageing machinery waited silently within its walls, and its passages and corridors stretched deep below the surface of the world. The Imperial fighter ships followed Kyle and the dragon for some time, swarming through the darkness and spraying gunfire at the pair. As Kyle descended further into the tunnels though, the pure-type monsters that the Ancients had left behind as sentinels began to awaken.

Deep below the surface, Kyle’s presence disturbed an enormous flying guardian from the Ancient Age. The massive creature’s armour was completely immune to his dragon’s lasers, and Kyle had to rely on his own skill with the ancient handgun that he wielded in order to overcome this bio-engineered monstrosity. Soon after the battle, the Dark Dragon sped out of the shadows behind Kyle and his dragon; they rushed after the creature, reaching the end of the ruins and bursting into the sky above a vast forest.

Also…







This is the point where the game cuts off if you’re playing the game on Easy. Episodes 5, 6, and Last Episode are locked down to Normal mode.

Yep, Sega holds the game’s ending hostage from casual players. They were making games with “git gud son!” as a design philosophy a full 15 years before From Software made the phrase famous with .

The game also doesn’t play the ending cinematic if you break down and use the Invincibility Mode cheat too. Sega was loving hard back in the 90’s.





I have a complex history with this boss. This was the boss that kicked my rear end so many times before I finally figured out how to beat it way back when. And yet I love its general design and the music that accompanies it.

I have no idea what it’s supposed to be. It’s not a Pure Type (to my knowledge) and based off the sounds it makes and the gears that you can see on the top of its head and how it was seemingly dormant until Kyle and Lagi woke it up it looks like it’s mechanical in nature. Hence why I dub it the ‘windup bird.’ That and Haruki Marukami.

Like I say in the video, this is the boss that rattles first time players because of a variety of factors. First off all, it tries to psyche you out. It chases after you for no reason, it gets in your face right off the bat, and it’s goddamn persistent. Second, it’s got the widest array of attacks of any boss we’ve encountered so far. It fires its arm off at you, launches volleys of plasma shots at you, and tries to carve you up with its eye laser. And lastly and most importantly: it’s immune to lock-on attacks.

I should amend that to say that every part of it except its head is immune to lock-ons, but it’s got so many targetable areas on it that are immune that you’re liable to not even manage to target the head when you sweep the reticule over it. And yet, I manage to kill it with a lock-on to the head anyway, so .

The general strategy for taking this boss out is to spam the fire button and blow its wings off with Kyle’s blaster then focus on hitting the head.

From a storyline perspective, this is the boss that really shows you that Kyle and Lagi are meant to be a team. Lagi, who is responsible for the lock-on homing lasers, is pretty much useless in this fight so it’s up to Kyle with the Sky Rider’s blaster to take out the tunnel guardian.

Now Sega’s doing How to Train Your Dragon a full 20 years before Dreamworks did…



nine-gear crow fucked around with this message at 08:50 on Dec 15, 2014

Blindsided Sally
Jan 9, 2007


Don't post Small Dash!


Hahahaha, cheeky! You censored your LP confession!

That aside, I'd be giving this level crap for being a samey dull brown corridor but the infrequent appearances of mass graves is actually fairly creepy and interesting.

TravelLog
Jul 22, 2013

He's a mean one, Mr. Roy.


And oh what a confession it was. That aside, I still feel the whole bone graveyard thing was a very ominous and out-of-place addition given the general setting. Doubtless, it's as you say, and it was some kind of feeding ground, but I can't help but feel that a lot of the lore is constructed around what was at the time more arbitrary than not design choices.

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Glazius
Jul 22, 2007

Hail all those who are able,
any mouse can,
any mouse will,
but the Guard prevail.



Clapping Larry

I really like the general structure of the gameplay in that you're marking targets for your dragon.

Laser-guided munitions before laser-guided munitions were cool minigames.

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