Wednesday 6 November 2019

Panzer Dragoon - Maiden Flight

This is truly where the legend began! Panzer Dragoon is where the high flying action becomes real awesome real fast! Sporting some of the greatest in 32-bit graphics and some of the greatest challenge this side of the console, as it was only on the Saturn in the fifth generation. It was glorious in every respect, but dear sweet LORD was it hard!

For real, the learning curve was the thing that you needed to get over real fast. Learning the controls is paramount, initially. You have your laser gun, your dragoon, and just about everything from flying bugs to gigantic aircraft came gunning for you. What contributed to this was the fact that when you faced any other way than forward, your POV became extremely close knit. Panzer Dragoon 2 fixed this little feature, but here in this game, it could easily get you killed. Things will start flying beside you, and you had a very limited time to get it taken care of before it lunged directly into your tail! 

The landscapes and the surroundings are just so fun to look at. It can be a widespread wilderness or a cramped corridor to fly through, but it boasted pixelated beauty at its finest. The colors melded so well, especially when you had the grasslands beneath your wings and the purple skies above. That didn’t stop it from looking gloomy and gray at some points, though, but you get the picture. It accomplishes what it set out to do. 

The story is told in a series of cut scenes between levels and if you really don't care, you can skip them. The story gamers will be quite satisfied, though, as it is a simple tale that does not get in the way of the game, but it can be quite heart wrenching at time. Or, as the young people say, it "gives you the feels." One thing Panzer Dragoon has always been good at is telling a legitimate story amid a beautiful gaming experience.

Then comes the enemies. They don’t differ much from the second game. They range from a kilometer to a meter in no time flat. If it weren’t for the targeting feature from your dragoon friend, this game would be ridiculously difficult. As in, more so than it already is. The real problem that comes up later on is that it has a life system and absolutely no save. Yes, one glaring issue that is fixed in the second game is that you have to finish the entire game in one single sitting.

What saves this is that the game is rather short, and you can beat it within an hour or so, so long as you don’t die too many times and restart. Yes, it has a lives system, but extra lives can be gained by high scoring each individual level. It’s about as old school as it gets, but it’s quite understandable if this is a turnoff for players looking for a more casual experience. It is definitely not for the faint of heart. Massive difficulty spikes and no save features can be quite the rage-quit material if you take the game too lightly.

To say that this game is the worst in the Panzer Dragoon series is not really saying much. It is still a fantastic game to cut your teeth on. While Zwei is a much more complete and palatable game of the semi-railshooter genre, its predecessor is no slouch at all. Sure, its framerates are a little off and targeting the blaster can be a bit of a pain (especially not facing straight forward) but any retro gamer should be able to pick this up and start shooting away at any point. Do not skip a chance to add this to your game library.

1 comment:

Peter said...

Such a great game.
Really enjoyed your article!