This article discusses the first screenshots of Panzer Dragoon Saga that Sega released and how they differ from the final product.
The screenshots on this page were released by Sega around April 1997, and these particular scans are taken from issue 19 of the official UK Sega Saturn Magazine. These were the first images of Panzer Dragoon Saga (or Azel: Panzer Dragoon RPG) that Team Andromeda revealed to the public; the game was roughly eight months away from completion at the time, so as might be expected, there are several subtle differences between the version of the game shown in these images and the finished game that we know. For a quick example, compare the two screenshots below; the image on the left is one of these early screenshots, and the one on the right is taken from the finished game:
The areas showcased in these early images are Uru (specifically, the Sunken Southern Ruins) and the Village of Zoah; there’s a single screenshot from the Garil Desert’s Worm Lair, too. Probably the most striking thing about the Uru shots is that Edge’s dragon is in the Basic Wing form, rather than the Stripe Wing form that it’ll always be in when he reaches that area in the finished game; it might be that Team Andromeda hadn’t finished off the evolution system at this point in time, or they might have only wanted to show off the dragon’s first form. There are other noticeable differences in these Uru shots too, such as a different “sky” in the background and also a simpler radar design.
The 3D environments themselves are almost the same as in the finished game, but again there are some subtle differences. Some structures in the early Zoah are simpler than they end up being: for example, the church in the Holy District is missing its blue pillars and dome, and the door between the districts doesn’t have the protruding archway around it. The texture-mapping on some surfaces seems to be slightly different here as well, or at least, differently aligned. Also, as with Uru, the sky and forest in the background of Zoah look different at this point in time; it seems that the backdrops for both of these areas were redrawn before the game was finished.
The character placement in Zoah is considerably different in these early images, too: we see coolias in the Holy District that aren’t present at all in the finished game, and other characters (such as Paet, Damon, Quitor and the unnamed traveller) standing in places where they can’t actually be found. It’s unclear if Team Andromeda really planned to have the characters in all these different locations though, as it’s plausible that they hadn’t decided upon character placements at this early stage, and that they simply scattered some character models around while testing (or to make these first screenshots more appealing).
As for minor differences, the speed gauge on the radar seems to “fill up” from left to right in these screenshots, while in the finished game it goes from right to left; it also appears to have all four speed settings by default too, whereas the fourth speed setting can only be unlocked in the finished game when you collect a hidden item. The position of the camera in relation to the dragon is also odd in several of these images, especially in the Garil Desert shot where it’s panned high above the landscape, looking down; in the finished game it would be following directly behind the creature.