Panzer Anyone?

I picked up Panzer Dragoon Orta yesterday, anyone else have it? It’s certainly pretty, and in line with Penny-Arcade’s assessment it’s more difficult than the demo disk level. Quite difficult in parts actually. I’m up to episode 6, enjoying things so far.

What I’m most impressed with is the “depth” for what it is. It’s still not what I’d describe as a deep game, but changing forms and gliding and the two different attacks they affect add a lot to the game compared to something like Rez. I still love Rez, but I’m glad this feels like a game instead of an experience, or whatever they were saying about Rez. I was worried it would be just as simple, one button to lock on and your special attacks.

I’m loving it so far. I think I’m about where you are, level 6 or something. Just after you have the snow level where you can’t fly.

I never really understood the complaints that it’s on rails and all you do is move the cursor around, rotate, and shoot. Those statements are certainly TRUE, but how does that make it a bad game? All it does is make it simple - it doesn’t make it shallow. I find that there’s considerable depth to figuring out the patterns, changing forms, stuff like that.

It’s like Galaga. Everyone loves Galaga, right? That’s like a rail shooter, only with even less freedom. All you do is move your little ship back and forth and shoot hordes of oncoming enemies. But some depth emerges in exploiting the patterns, trying for the double-ship, and furiously trying to stay one step ahead of far too many enemies and their shots. Panzer has all the same sensibilities, only it treats you to a absolutely gorgeous and bizarre rollercoaster ride while you’re at it.

I’d love to play this game but isn’t it an Xbox exclusive? Any word on release dates for the Cube or the PS2?

Yeah, it’s Xbox exclusive–I don’t think there are any plans for PS2 or GC versions.

I’m only at the 4th boss, but I’m loving it too. The art direction is pretty spectacular and pretty spectacularly implemented. There’s a really cool part on an alternate route through one of the levels where on the ground to your right there’s a huge herd of creatures stampeding across a grassy plain. And you can shoot them! Between the 360 degree field of vision, the three different forms, and the glide controls, Orta has a really deep control scheme for an on-rails shooter.

I wish you could skip the cut scenes before each boss encounter. Barring that, I wish the boss save points were at least after the cutscenes. I’m not sure what the thinking was there.

Yeah, I was hoping for a followup in the PDS style, but I’m really happy with the way Orta turned out. It actually does take some elements from Saga and incorporates them surprisingly well into a shooter - namely the dragon transformation (though PDS had this neat “spectrum” style morphing that let you customize the dragon’s form) and the whole idea of using position to fight the bosses. That was the thing that made PDS’s battles a lot more involving for me than most console RPGs, and it works just as well in the shooter iteration.

Totally agreed on Saga. I actually picked up Orta last week and have already breezed through it twice(working on Hard mode now) but over the weekend a friend and myself tore through my old unplayed copy of Panzer Saga after finishing Orta and never realized how one of the most unique gaming experiences had been sitting and collecting dust in my storage closet. Infact my Saturn internal memory had died, so saving was not an option and so impressed were we after a few hours of play, we cancelled our plans for the evening and just pummeled through it.

The dragon morphing really blew us away, being able to adjust your primary statistics on the fly made for some solid tactical play. It really was impressive how the developers put so many unique encounters and bosses that utilized this battle engine to such a well thought degree. Plus it was always really exciting to finally win a new evolutionary upgrade and to witness all the gorgeous new polygonal models that appeared in each of the five major dragon forms, even on Saturn they looked great. So much to appreciate in the system.

Though the final boss was a dissapointment, and too often the game seemed to get a bit drowned out in the town scenarios, running back and forth from cinema to cinema just to make progress, and even some of the later dungeon and quests felt too much like the developers were only artificially extending gametime by forcing the gamer on mundane repetitive tasks. It was truly an experience nevertheless. Good engine, entertaining combat structure, smart sidequests and hidden secrets, solid mechanics, and some fantastic music. (If only the plot was a little less hokey at times, I guess I was expecting something a bit more unique out of it, but instead it was the same old hat, retold with engaging new art) After finishing that quest and returning to Orta made me appreciate even further many of the subtle touches and Smilebit injected into the newest shooter that builds upon Andromeda’s final effort. Still, I’d love to see Saga get a second chance on better hardware, it’s such a wonderful concept that deserves more prodding and picking at with the new technology standard.

Otherwise my purchase of Orta has been a pleasant one. Good stuff.

through my old unplayed copy of Panzer Saga

I see that copies of PDS go for as much as two hundred and fifty bucks on Ebay. Is this the most collectible video game ever?

Yea, I suppose so. I picked up my copy way back in '98 or whenever once the game hit our shores and retailers only received limited stock. I snagged my Saga for $50 and just never gave it the time to play, same with Burning Rangers which I believe may still be in shrink wrap somewhere. I held onto it for all these years just because…well fuck I knew it would get played at some point! That day finally came thankfully, had a great time with it. Now you say I can make a tidy little profit off it? Not too shabby…

I think there were only 6,000 copies of the US Panzer Dragoon Saga made. Along with Radiant Silvergun on Saturn (which is only available on import and was also produced in low quantity), they’re easily some of the most collectible games you can own. Shining Force III, Shining the Holy Ark, Dragon Force, Burning Rangers and Iron Storm are similarly collectible Saturn titles. Beyond these, the most collectible stuff is usually prototypes of games that never got made or a couple other limited quantity titles for contests and the like. Original Sega brand sets of Samba de Amigo maracas are also highly prized.


Wish I still had my copy of Night Trap

Heh, I have most of those games you listed Dave. Radiant Silvergun, Shining Force 3, Burning Rangers, even the Samba Marraccas. I also got a set of VO Twinsticks for DC. Only Dragon Force got sold off years ago…

Didn’t realize some of these are in high demand.

Both Saturn and Dreamcast are fairly collectible systems. Saturn moreso right now because it’s older and games were produced in lesser quantities in most cases.

That said, there are games on SNES and Genesis that still sell for what they sold for NEW back then. The Final Fantasies, Secret of Mana, Phantasy Star IV… it’s definitely a sellers market on certain titles. However, if you’re like me and collect games for dead systems, there’s also a lot of great stuff available for next to nothing that people just don’t know enough about or care about.


While we’re veering off subject, my friend is quite proud of having a copy of some early demo version of Thrill Kill, the four player PSX fighting game that got the axe in development for being too violent.

Mission 2 is possibly one of the most visually impressive levels I’ve ever played.

PDO has done something for me that no recent game, no matter how much I’ve enjoyed it, has been able to do - bring back memories of the glory days of the SNES & Genesis. A time when you could put in a game and play the same levels over and over and still have fun.

Sega, I love you.

PDO has done something for me that no recent game, no matter how much I’ve enjoyed it, has been able to do - bring back memories of the glory days of the SNES & Genesis. A time when you could put in a game and play the same levels over and over and still have fun.

Actually, I’ve had a lot of that lately. Shinobi, Klonoa 2, Maximo, Devil May Cry, Contra: Shattered Soldier on PS2, Metroid Prime, Rogue Leader, Super Monkey Ball on Gamecube, just about any GBA game including the Castlevania titles… I finished Castlevania: Circle of the Moon last night and could dive right back into the game in Magician mode if it weren’t for the backlog of other new titles I have to play. There has been a revival from the Japanese developers of these styles of games. Games that are about skills mastery as much as they are about “story”.


I guess I should have seperated my GBA - that also has given me similar feelings. I’ve not tried any of the other games you mentioned besides Maximo (returned - horrid save system) but I’ll put them on my list, once I finish what I have now. I am actually trying to FINISH my games. I spend more time getting new ones than actually playing.

Maximo (returned - horrid save system)

This just didn’t and doesn’t bother me. I want to collect every damn koin in the levels so I’ve always got plenty of koins to save. Maximo is one of the best platform games from a US console developer in recent memory.

Nothing beats Klonoa 2 though. The more I see and play that game (I’ve beaten it, but my four year old son is working his way through it now), the more I think it’s genius. The graphic style is gorgeous, but it never gets in the way of the incredible platforming gameplay. Control is tight, music is superb and the game is never too hard, even for my four year old, who gets frustrated, but can come back and try again and succeed.

It’s a shame people ignored it (like the original), because it’s one of the best platform games in the last five years.


I’m bidding on a copy of the US version of Shining Force 3 right now. Heaven help me.

This one?

Or this one?

The Shining Force series has retained its value very well. You’ll still pay top dollar for a boxed Genesis Shining Force or Shining Force II.

Good luck!