At first, it all seems a bit shallow, simply aiming crosshairs and shooting at everything, but there are some innovative features that make this game special. First of all, you have a 360-degree field of vision around your dragon (you use the shoulder buttons to rotate your view). This means you're not limited to forward shooting, but can also track targets behind and on either side.
With the use of the helpful radar, it's easy to locate your enemies. You can fire normal straight shots, but it's more effective to hold down the fire button to "lock on" several enemies at once, taking them out with a barrage of guided missiles. You'll want to use both methods simultaneously to maximize the damage you unleash.
The stages are attractive and imaginative, and combined with the tranquil background music, can almost put you in a dreamlike state. The first stage features majestic ancient ruins protruding from the sea, and it looks magnificent. The bosses, who you approach from several angles, are absolutely huge. Unfortunately, the Saturn's graphic capabilities can just barely handle this game's visual demands.
There's major pixelation and it's hard to make out certain enemies, especially in front of equally pixelated scenery. Another problem is the lack of a level select, meaning you'll have to replay the early levels each time you play. Be sure to check out the introduction - it's one of the best I've seen in a Saturn title. Panzer Dragoon is a landmark shooter, and every Saturn owner should have this game in their library. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
The ground stages are a nice change of pace, and they control nicely. But the best new feature is the "berserk" attack, which obliterates everything on the screen (like a smart bomb). It's especially devastating against bosses, which range from huge airships to freaky creatures. I like how you methodically shoot pieces off of the airship boss, and then can look back to watch it crash into the ground.
Although Panzer Dragoon II is still "on rails", there are times when you can actually select alternate paths, and depending on your score, your dragon increases in size and strength between stages. Add in the ability to save your game, and you can see this is a complete package. Even the graphics are easier on the eyes thanks to larger, better-defined enemies. It's hard to be critical of Panzer Dragoon II - it's one of the best Saturn games I've ever played. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
The Saturn is hardly a paragon of 3D prowess but Panzer Dragoon Saga squeezes every bit of performance out of the system. Your dragon glides with fluid grace under the power of the 3D controller. The landscapes are gorgeous. The Forbidden Zone features snowflakes falling gently on moonlit waves, and the majestic sunken ruins of Uru will be instantly recognizable to fans of the Panzer Dragoon shooting games. Even the more pixelated scenery has a poetic charm.
Exploration is fun and I love the idea of blasting rotating stones to reveal items. Battles occur while flying, which adds a new dimension to combat. Skirmishes play out in semi-real time, and positioning yourself relative to your foe(s) is critical. Attacks are fully animated and the camera swings around to capture the carnage. Your primary weapon is a barrage of lock-on lasers, but you can also concentrate a powerful gun on weak points. Your dragon provides magical "berzerker" attacks, and you can even "morph" your dragon to emphasize attack, defense, agility, and spirituality. There are plenty of options and an intuitive user interface makes it fun to experiment.
Weaker enemies include swarming bugs, mutant dandelions, or armless creatures that skip across the water. Larger foes tend to be massive airships - often with monsters infused into them. It's satisfying to watch huge chunks of these vessels break away as you wear them down.
Saga's intriguing storyline is conveyed via full-motion video segments that were state of the art for their time. The dialogue is Japanese with English subtitles, and the exotic musical score (with occasional vocals) is mesmerizing. The save point distribution is pretty good, the difficulty is fair, and the game runs about 20 hours.
My only serious gripe is the maze-like designs of several areas. I found it hard to enjoy the game while languishing in these multilayered networks of uninteresting tunnels and elevators with labels like "B3F North" and "Tower 15F West". Otherwise Panzer Dragoon Saga is one epic fantasy that hits on all cylinders. Like nothing I've ever played, this is a special kind of game that I won't soon forget. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
The graphics are attractive, and you can tell you're playing on Pebble Beach because of the ocean in the background. There's only one course, so the replay value is limited. Each hole is introduced by Craig Sadler, who also offers advice. Craig doesn't seem too excited about being in the game - in fact, he actually looks pretty bored and occasionally pissed-off. Lighten up Craig! You play a GAME for a living!
The preview of each hole features really bad (shaky) video footage. The game has plenty of bells and whistles as I mentioned, but many are completely unnecessary. Do we need to see the caddy on the screen? Would you ever use the option in which Craig Sadler can "pinch hit" for you and hit one of your shots? No question about it, if Sega had concentrated more on the main engine, this could have been a winner. As it is, it's pretty mediocre. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Once the action kicks into gear, the gameplay is everything you'd expect from an early FPS: plenty of shooting, simple lock-and-key puzzles, and a modest amount of platform jumping. You begin with only a knife, but soon obtain a machine gun, and eventually wield magical weapons. The animation is fast and smooth, and it's quite satisfying to blow scarabs, mummies, and dog-headed zombies into meaty chunks. The sand and stone environments are complemented by some nice exotic music, but you'll find yourself getting sick of both after extended play. The crystal-clear surround sound effects are so remarkable that I found myself looking over my shoulder at times.
Powerslave is a strong title, but it has two major flaws. First, there are too many "one-hit" deaths (like exploding pots) which force you to restart the stage from the beginning (ugh). Second, the save system is terrible. It's not documented anywhere, but the game automatically saves periodically to your system memory, so make sure your console has a fresh battery! Powerslave isn't as spellbinding as it once was, but its visuals have aged well and its fast pacing and commendable violence make it worth revisiting. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
The battles are real slugfests, and they remind me a little of those old Japanese monster movies. All the little bells and whistles are here - the flying pterodactyls, the chick on the continue screen, and the statistical breakdown after each game. The game also includes the pre-rendered introductory scenes (like the 3DO version), but I recommend turning these off. You might be able to stomach their rudimentary pre-rendered 3D animations once, but that's it.
Unlike the Jaguar and 3DO versions, there are no bonus modes like endurance or tug-of-war, but I don't think anybody will miss them. The game features quick loading too, with no pauses between rounds. Primal Rage was never a great fighter, but on the Saturn it's quite the spectacle to behold. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
The color scheme is black splashed with red and blue accents, and there's such a high degree of detail that the table looks nearly photo-realistic. Pro Pinball's controls are more robust than most pinball games, providing the ability to nudge the table in three different directions! The physics is good, although the balls do tend to get "floaty" during the multi-ball modes. Some of the mini-games are actually played out on the dot-matrix video display at the end of the table, including a simple one that involves shooting asteroids.
Adrenaline-pumping music adds to the frenzy, but the fuzzy voice samples are hard to discern. Maybe it's because I'm a pinball nut, but I really became immersed in this game. It's very challenging and has that "one more time" quality. You always want to beat your previous best score, but sadly, these are not saved to memory. Despite that blatant flaw, Pro Pinball is a quality title that will keep you riveted to the screen. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
The game itself is just a patchwork of football clips. The box claims "you're in control", but that's a joke. The action moves along at a brisk pace, but it's a very automated experience. When running or kicking, you simply call a play and watch the action unfold on the screen. Passing is the one aspect of the game that gives you some semblance of control. Unfortunately, the combination of buttons you need to hit is completely counter-intuitive (the right shoulder button to hike the ball?), and since you can't see what receivers are open, it's largely a guessing game.
Once a receiver is selected, you're expected to "lead" your pass by positioning a green cursor. Unfortunately, the cross-hair movement is clumsy, and even when you do put it "on the money", most passes are knocked away or picked off. Interestingly, you don't play any defense in this game, so once you give up the ball, the game basically "fast forwards" to your next possession. It looks really odd when you punt the ball away to the other team, only to see it immediately punted back to you. You might see footage of the other team's score, but not the drive.
As you can imagine, the first time you play this thing, it's confusing as hell. I assumed Digital Pictures gave out free hot dogs to put people in the stands, but closer scrutiny shows that most of the crowd is actually cardboard cut-outs! And hey - was there anybody available under the age of 90 to play the ref? That guy can barely raise his arms! I love how during halftime Ditka motivates his team with idiotic lines like "It's either them or us, and my money's on us!" and "Interceptions are killing us! Don't throw any more!" Quarterback Attack is so bad that it's worth playing just so you can see how bad a video game can be. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of Moby Games, Shinforce, Games Database, Video Game Museum, GameSpot, Rotten Tomatoes, Racket Boy, GameFAQs.com, Old Games News, Hardcore Gaming 101, IGN.com, Alvanista.com, YouTube, Sega Retro