Dragon Development Theory
A theory that examines the dragon forms that the dragon morphes into in Panzer Dragoon Orta and how assimilating other creatures helps shape these forms.
The Ancients ruled the entire world, their technology showed limitless potential, but they nearly eradicated themselves and were reduced to a very primitive existence. That occurred so far back in the annals of time that one would think that it would have no bearing on the present, unfortunately the will of the Ancients has very tenacious hold. The Tower system is a single facet of the Ancients’ legacy, but it is perhaps the most influential as the Heresy Dragon; all of your actions in the first three Panzer Dragoon games were to ultimately to bring an end to the Towers and the administrator, Sestren.
Throughout Panzer Dragoon Zwei and Saga we encountered several forms of seemingly holy origin, such as the Eye Wing and Light Wing (pictured), and in all of the first three games we would ascend to the ultimate dragon form: The Blue Dragon, Solo Wing. But if the dragon was merely a weapon like all of the other Ancient creations, why was it so extravagantly stylized?
…the Gods created a dragon, and released it into the human’s world. - The Dragon Bible
Despite the truth being that Lagi is a product of the Heresy Program altering a mutant coolia pup, the implications are still valid. Whether it was the actual hand of God or a godlike AI, something was directing the growth of the dragon and it had very beautiful designs in mind. However, this governing force was rendered inoperable at the end of Panzer Dragoon Saga. To confirm this, one of the Deep Memory Cells in Panzer Dragoon Orta held this message:
Your mission is completed. Yet, you wish to remain? Your body is fragile and mortal now. Your life will more than likely end out there if you continue. Alright. I understand. Farewell, my other half. I must rest… Watch over our friends for me…
Fragile and mortal indeed. Seeing cracks form and pieces of the dragon falling off was a disheartening sight, but it truly showed that whatever divinity had once possessed the dragon had now left. The dragon is on its own, so what is directing its growth?
The Influence of DNA
In Panzer Dragoon Zwei, your dragon growth was dependent upon how well you did in the levels. In Panzer Dragoon Saga, your dragon growth was dependent upon how well you did in battles. Panzer Dragoon Orta broke with tradition and had your growth be dependent upon the collection of “Gene Bases”, which were awarded for defeating creatures in the levels. You did not receive these Gene Bases from just anything though; these creatures were typically an atypical version of another enemy. From the way their DNA was practically tractor beamed in, I think the dragon was actually choosing which DNA to acquire. The dragon used the enemy’s genetic code to upgrade his own, which implies that each time this was done the dragon became more like his enemies on a genetic level.
Looking at Heavy Wing, we can clearly see insectoid inspiration in its horns and wings and later in its development it shows some minor reptilian influences. This is corroborated by a great deal of mutant-type creatures looking like insects. The “mesh” look of its fully developed wings in stark contrast to the bright and colorful designs of Eye Wing or Arm Wing show that Heavy Wing has deviated far from the intended path of the dragon.
Glide Wing began with bulky armor that made it look a bit like a beetle, but it quickly developed into something much less natural. The metallic sheen and glowing blades as well as the pulsing energy you can see in the spaces between the armor give it the distinct look of a pure-type creature, and of course many Gene Bases are retrieved from pure-types. Glide and Heavy Wing are on far ends of the spectrum in almost every way.
In Zwei and Saga the dragon’s beginnings were quite beastly, but he grew into an amazing creature by the end. Base Wing’s claws, the growth under its chin, and the strange dangly thing under its tail show that it is not far progressed beyond the creature that it started as. If you consider that the dragon in Orta must share the same body as the dragon in Saga, you can see that with the Heresy Program not being there to guide it, it actually began to revert to the original creature.
A New Era of Dragons
The dragon was no longer a true Heresy Dragon after the events of Saga and with the Heresy Program at least out of commission for the time being, I doubt we’ll see a return of the Saturn designs in future Panzer Dragoon games. But the developers continue to show us the intricacy and vastness of the Panzer Dragoon universe, so I think we have nothing to worry about as far as running out of places to take the series and the dragons.
Thanks to Lance Way for contributing screenshots and SegaTecToy for giving me the idea to write up my theory.