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Panzer Dragoon Saga (PDS) is:
* epic, awesome - the story takes you to many different places, you meet many people, you destroy a couple empires
* unique, beautiful - graphics you never thought the Saturn was capable of, a unique universe and visual style, both for the menus and for the visual identity of the monsters and the people, enthralling music
* worth whatever price - I would sell a limb for this game
PDS is not:
* boring - the combats can be fast, and there's not too many of them compared to other RPGs
* long - it's not that the story is short, it's that you don't have to run around so much and fight so often. This is a positive point, not a drawback
A unique aura of legend surrounds Panzer Dragoon Saga. It's one of those games which let a mark on the chosen few who played it.
This was the second RPG I played. The first was The Legend of Zelda, on the NES, so there's no fair comparison, and I consider this to be the first game I played of its kind.
Panzer Dragoon Saga is one of the last games made for the Sega Saturn, and without question one of the best.
The game starts as you're a mercenary guarding an archeological dig site. A girl in stasis is found, and taken over by the Rebels. Edge is left for dead. He's attacked by monsters, but is saved at the last moment by a dragon who shoots laser beams.
Dragon. Shooting. Lasers.
They took the two most awesome things in the world (except for _sex_, which is always number one) and put them together. Oh, and he casts spells too, and they're awesome too.
Visually, the game is more beautiful than anything anyone thought the Saturn was capable of. The game also feels very cinematic. Dialogue is fully voice acted, there are lots of prerendered cinematics, and during combat the dynamic camera adds a lot to the action. Overall, think Mass Effect, only better.
Combat is a mix of turn based and real time (a bit like Neverwinter Nights but with just one player and one foe). You have 3 action gauges which fill at a speed depending on the type of dragon you have (and which you can change on the fly). Normal attacks (laser and gun) cost one gauge, and spells costs 2 gauges. You have 4 positions around the enemy, and your position determines the vulnerability of your enemy and the attacks he can make. He'll try to put you were you'll take the most damage, and you try to go where you're safest, so it's important to move around a lot.
There's a girl in the story too, but she's not your average Princess Toadstool or Zelda in need of rescue. She has a bigger dragon and offers the most exciting boss battles in the game (you fight her 3 times).
I think of this game like a console RPG, except not boring, with a coherent story (Lost Odyssey and Star Ocean TLH are an insult to the intellectual capabilities of anyone 15 or older), and something you want and can play several times through. It's not 70-hour gameplay, 50 of which you spend fighting the same 3 lowly monsters over and over again. It's 15-hour gameplay, 5 of which you spend fighting the same 3 lowly monsters over and over again.
This game shows what today's console JRPGs still fail to achieve: solid story, exciting gameplay, interesting and active fights.
There are emulators and images which you can download to play this game on your PC (I do).
Game Traits applied to Panzer Dragoon Saga (SAT) by ruijoel