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Axe of the Blood God: Panzer Dragoon Saga's 20th Anniversary With The Ringer's Ben Lindbergh

PODCAST | We revisit the tragic history of Sega's lost classic.

Article by Kat Bailey, .

Axe of the Blood God is our weekly RPG podcast hosted by Kat Bailey and Nadia Oxford. You can find the previous episodes here.

In this week's episode of Axe of the Blood God (download link here), we're joined by special guest Ben Lindbergh to discuss the 20th anniversary of Panzer Dragoon Saga!

Ben Lindbergh is the author of The Ringer's massive Panzer Dragoon Saga retrospective, which includes comments from its original developers, among others. He joins us to discuss the ambitious story, unique battle system, and tragic history behind this lost classic.

Also in this episode: More Monster Hunter World! Dissidia Final Fantasy NT discussion! And the third Cosmic Star Heroine report! Incidentally, here's the video we were referring to in this episode.

Want to share your thoughts on RPGs? Email us at usgamer@usgamer.net. We may read your letter on the show!

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Show Description

We celebrate Panzer Dragoon Saga's 20th Anniversary with Ben Lindbergh, author of The Ringer's massive retrospective on Sega's lost classic [26:10]. We talk about the ways it broke new ground, its complex story, and the miracle of it making it to America at all. Then Kat and Nadia dive back into Cosmic Star Heroine [54:06] and talk more Monster Hunter: World!

Music from Axe of the Blood God is courtesy of Lena Chappelle, who has also contributed the themes to Active Time Babble and Roleplayers' Realm. I also use music from the RPG Music Pack over at rpgmaker.net. Check it out!

This article may contain links to online retail stores. If you click on one and buy the product we may receive a small commission. For more information, go here.

Comments 13

  • Avatar for Drachmalius #1 Drachmalius 7 months ago
    Maybe it's finally time to play Panzer Dragoon Saga, I've heard it talked about in hushed tones for so long! I never had a Saturn but there was one at the local Boys and Girls club where I spent a lot of afternoons. The only games they had were sports games, Tomb Raider and Mega Man X4. So I became a Mega Man X fan for life but missed out on such classics as Panzer Dragoon Saga and Fighters Megamix.
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  • Avatar for BulkSlash #2 BulkSlash 7 months ago
    The PDS retrospective in The Ringer is really excellent, although I disagree with the interpretation of the ending, you hear the sound of the dragon flying in the final cut scene which suggests to me that the both the dragon and Edge had survived, but I also like how it’s fairly ambiguous and can therefore be interpreted different ways.

    I really must play PDS again, it’s been such a long time since I last replayed it.
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  • Avatar for Vonlenska #3 Vonlenska 7 months ago
    I've always read the ending pessimistically. I don't want to spoil, since the fourth wall breaking stuff is genuinely cool and a lot subtler than what other games have done (i.e. Earthbound and Mother 3).

    Panzer Dragoon Saga is one of my favorite games. The peerless, strange art direction; the soaring future-folk soundtrack; the subtlety of storytelling and gradual character growth; the shooter-inspired battle system that has players constantly moving; it all remains unique and and in many ways far ahead of most contemporary games. That it's borderline inaccessible to the average person is a tragedy.

    On the upside, Brave Wave did a 20th anniversary rearrange album that sounds magical, as well as Saori Kobayashi's original music for more Panzerian soundscapes.
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  • Avatar for Keivz #4 Keivz 7 months ago
    PDS is #3 on my all time favorites list. I still own my original copy. Sadly both my Sega Saturns bit the dust years back. I’d definitely throw some cash towards a kickstarter if it were to come to that.
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  • Avatar for daverhodus #5 daverhodus 7 months ago
    I still have my launch copy. Amazing game!!
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  • Avatar for Mr.Spo #6 Mr.Spo 7 months ago
    I managed to track down a copy a couple of years ago. I think it's a stunning game and one that deserves both a wider audience and a spiritual sequel or remake. The combat system in particular was a revelation, and the soundtrack, art design and sparsely populated world so unlike other JRPGs that I think PDS is a genuinely singular game.

    Looking forward to listening to the podcast later this afternoon and to reading the Ringer retrospective.
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  • Avatar for Helvetica-Scenario #7 Helvetica-Scenario 7 months ago
    Had to make an acoount in order to clarify something. Kat, I've been following you and the old 1up crew for ages, and it seems everyone has the same two misconceptions about Panzer Dragoon Saga. One is that the game is nearly impossible to play. This goes hand in hand with the misconception that Saturn emulation is some sort of unicorn.

    Saturn emulation that works has been a thing for about a decade with an emulator called "SSF" which allowed Saga to be played for just as long. More recently, you can use the Saturn core in Retroarch to do the same on a more updated emulator, which is probably what Ben did.

    The other, more damaging misconception is that the game is forever lost to time because the source code is gone. This is wrong due to the fact that you don't necessarily need it to port/remaster the game to new hardware. For example, Bluepoint games does their remasters without source code (Uncharted collection, Shadow of the Colossus, MGS). They just use a retail copy of the game and reverse engineer it to run on new platforms. They do this to avoid what happened with the botched Silent Hill HD collection, where the "source code" was actually unfinished code that contained bugs.

    Please, don't fall into the trap of continuing to lament over the source code, and instead petition Sega to hire a group like Bluepoint to remaster the game. It can be done!
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #8 SatelliteOfLove 7 months ago
    1998 is clearly CLEARLY the greatest of video game years; this guy knows his stuff setting out on this venture.

    I look forward to two earth-shattering titles per month with this!
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  • Avatar for Cabbage-head-must-di #9 Cabbage-head-must-di 7 months ago
    @Helvetica-Scenario Agreed, although I never got the saturn emulator to work myself I was able to play Saga with a fantastic reproduction copy of the game with a pseudo saturn mod for my system. A remake or a digital re-release would be better but this a great way to play such a classic without dropping 500 bucks.
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  • Avatar for Cabbage-head-must-di #10 Cabbage-head-must-di 7 months ago
    Deleted February 2018 by Cabbage-head-must-di
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  • Avatar for Cabbage-head-must-di #11 Cabbage-head-must-di 7 months ago
    Deleted February 2018 by Cabbage-head-must-di
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  • Avatar for funktron #12 funktron 7 months ago
    @Helvetica-Scenario "The other, more damaging misconception is that the game is forever lost to time because the source code is gone. This is wrong due to the fact that you don't necessarily need it to port/remaster the game to new hardware. For example, Bluepoint games does their remasters without source code (Uncharted collection, Shadow of the Colossus, MGS). They just use a retail copy of the game and reverse engineer it to run on new platforms."

    Heh. Umm. This doesn't seem feasible to me. While you can take an existing binary and decompile it, you'll still have to figure out what the resulting code actually does (and it's not going to have comments or useful variable / methods names or anything that makes code readable). I'm sure a lot of it would be portable, but the hardware-specific parts would have to be identified and reimplemented for your target architecture. It's not impossible, per se, but they'd have a much easier time with emulation.

    Also, I wasn't able to track down info for the other games, but Blue point had access to all source code for the Uncharted Remaster.
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  • Avatar for Helvetica-Scenario #13 Helvetica-Scenario 7 months ago
    @funktron Looks like I made a mistake about Uncharted, but the rest I'm pretty sure were reverse engineered.
    https://www.engadget.com/2011/09/23/bluepoint-games-offers-insight-into-mgs-ico-god-of-war-remake/
    I've read at least one other post about the ringer piece on another site where someone suggests Sega do the same thing.
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  • Avatar for funktron #14 funktron 7 months ago
    @Helvetica-Scenario I stand corrected! I found the original article via archive.org, and those people are incredible! I still believe that it's difficult enough to be generally unfeasible (I mean, people with 15 years experience and deep assembler knowledge? Dag), but apparently it can be done.
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  • Avatar for funktron #15 funktron 7 months ago
    Deleted February 2018 by funktron
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  • Avatar for Doctor-Octashawn #16 Doctor-Octashawn 7 months ago
    This was a bittersweet episode for me. On one hand, Panzer Dragoon Saga is one of my all time favorite games and I have so many fond memories of it. The world, the interesting characters, the amazing battle system- I still think it's one of the best games Sega has ever put out.

    The hard part of this was the reminder that at one time, I had a launch copy but ended up selling it. I was a poor college student at the time and one month I literally had to choose between paying tuition and buying groceries. So, when a friend offered me $150 for it, I just wasn't in a place to turn it down. In retrospect, I know I did what I had to and that it was the right decision, but it still hurts.

    Anyway, great episode, keep up the good work!
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