The Sega Saturn Turns 20 Years Old

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Published by Solo Wing in News

On November 22nd, 1994, the Sega Saturn was released in Japan, making the classic Sega console twenty years old today. Our friends over at Segabits have covered the anniversary in an article called SEGA Saturn’s 20th Anniversary: Celebrating Decades of Arcade Perfection.

Panzer Dragoon was originally planned as a launch title, however Team Andromedia missed the deadline. In a NowGamer article on the making of the Panzer Dragoon series, Kentaro Yoshida (who was an artist on the original Panzer), explains:

“The schedule we were working to was really tight,” Kentaro says. “We actually ended up missing our deadline, which was set as the Japanese launch day of the Saturn hardware. At first we were on the same schedule as the team producing Clockwork Knight, but no matter how hard we worked there was no way we were going to be able to meet that deadline, so Sega ended up putting Clockwork Knight out first and releasing Panzer Dragoon some months later. Sega had wanted a launch line-up of Clockwork Knight, Virtua Fighter and Panzer Dragoon…”

The delay was not surprising considering that Team Andromeda didn’t even have a Saturn to test the game on until late in development. Kentaro elaborates:

At the beginning of Panzer Dragoon’s development, the Saturn hardware wasn’t finalised and we didn’t have any prototype consoles to test with. The artists were using Silicon Graphics’ SoftImage, and the 3D graphics were programmed on workstations using OpenGL. After a while, we were finally able to send things across to the [debug] Saturn we’d received, but the transition was really difficult for the programmers. Of all of us, I’d say the programmers probably had the most difficult job, because of the volume of 3D work they had to get through. They used both of the Saturn’s GPUs in tandem, but I’m not sure how well that really worked out… [laughs]. Early on, the frame rate was terribly low, but eventually they got it up to 20fps.

The development of the Panzer Dragoon series was riddled with challenges and it’s quite amazing that we got the three high quality titles during the Saturn’s lifetime. If you had to ask me to pick one console that I have the fondest memories of, it would be the Sega Saturn: games such as NiGHTS, Shining Force III, and of course Panzer Dragoon Saga stand out as some of the greatest games ever made.

Valkyria Chronicles Coming to PC, Orta Next?

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Published by Solo Wing in News

It seems Sega have been listening to their fans who started a petition requesting that more Sega titles are ported to PC. Or it could be a happy coincidence. In either case, the much requested Valkyria Chronicles has arrived on Steam. Valkyria Chronicles was released in 2008 and up until now it was a Playstation 3 exclusive.

With the actuality of Valkyria Chronicles being ported to PC, why not other Sega titles? Although there would be considerable difficulty porting Panzer Dragoon Saga to PC, Panzer Dragoon Orta is a good candidate for a re-release. Steam user Griever_GF has started a discussion outlining the reasons why Sega should port Panzer Dragoon Orta to PC. If you agree, please contribute to the discussion and show you support for a Panzer Dragoon Orta PC port.

Was Alita Going to Be Playable in Panzer Dragoon Zwei?

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Published by Solo Wing in News

According to an old issue of GameFan magazine (volume 4, issue 9), Alita was originally planned to be a playable character in Panzer Dragoon Zwei. From the magazine:

Sega’s animation division is currently working on an animated version of Panzer Dragoon that’s due out in Japanese rental stores later this summer. The storyline will be based on Panzer 1, but in addition to hero Kyle, will also feature Alita, a female dragon-rider that was originally going to be a selectable character in Panzer 2.

Jeremy Prusak has kindly provided a scans of the magazine:

GameFan Volume 4 Issue 9 Page 111 (Relevant Content Only) GameFan Volume 4 Issue 9 Page 111

I can imagine Panzer Dragoon Zwei’s story being quite different had Alita been a playable character. Perhaps she would have fused with the Guardian Dragon instead of the Dark Dragon or provided a further motive for Lundi to pursue Shelcoof. Or perhaps Alita was going to be the protagonist instead of Lundi.

I’ve also updated the Alita encyclopaedia entry, linking to one of the scans for reference.

Senshudo TV Interviews Brave Wave Productions

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Published by Solo Wing in News

Senshudo TV have recorded a video interview at EGX London with Brave Wave, the company behind Saori Kobayashi’s new album, Journey.

Great to hear about their relaxed policy towards video streams and podcasts which feature Brave Wave music.

Journey is Now Available on iTunes

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Published by Solo Wing in News

Journey can now be purchased on iTunes. It is two dollars more expensive than the Bandcamp version if you’re purchasing from the US iTunes Store (US$13.99 versus US$12). It’s significantly more expensive on the New Zealand iTunes Store; NZ$27.99, which currently converts to US$21.69. Do yourself a favour and avoid the Apple tax.

Worth noting is that AKANE’s first album, Kochae is also available on iTunes.

Journey: A Design Exploration With Natalie Hanke

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Published by Solo Wing in News

Mohammed Taher from Brave Wave has written an article about Journey’s cover art. The article discusses how Natalie Hanke was chosen to produce Journey’s cover art and how the design evolved based on feedback from Saori Kobayashi and Yumiko Takahashi.

It is also mentioned in the article that Journey will be available soon on iTunes, Amazon, Google, and other services. There’s no need to wait however; Bandcamp is a great service, providing the album in a number of formats and arguably better for artists.

Journey is Now Available, Plus Some Thoughts

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Published by Solo Wing in News

Journey, the new album by Saori Kobayashi is now available:

Listen to Journey on Bandcamp

You can buy the album or stream the entire album for free on Bandcamp. I recommend that Panzer Dragoon and Crimson Dragon fans purchase the album to encourage future music from Saori Kobayashi.

Unfortunately, I have not had time to write a full review, but I’ll sum up my thoughts causally here.

Journey is a must purchase for fans of Saori’s work. The album features three Crimson Dragon tracks, but these are different from the tracks included in the games. We have a piano remix of Crimson Dragon’s main theme and a song based on Crimson Dragon: Side Story’s menu music (now with vocals). I like what has been done with the music here better than the music in the games. Furthermore, the album features Pirika which was originally going to be Panzer Dragoon Saga’s theme music.

Besides Crimson Dragon and Panzer Dragoon music, there are a number of other great tracks. Maboroshi is my personal favourite. Most tracks are composed by Saori Kobayashi, and many have a similar feel to her earlier work. Not exactly the same style, but the resemblance is there. I think Saori Kobayashi sums it up best herself on the album page:

After composing the music for Microsoft’s Crimson Dragon (Xbox One) and meeting Brave Wave’s president Mohammed Taher, Kobayashi decided to revive AKANE in the form of a second album titled Journey. “Before encountering the series, I didn’t focus on a specific type of music, but composing for Panzer Dragoon Saga and Panzer Dragoon Orta and experiencing these games made me interested in working with similar musical elements. A big part of AKANE is inspired by the Panzer Dragoon series.”

The inspiration is evident and that’s certainly a good thing. In the album’s description, Saori Kobayashi and Yumiko Takahashi also leave a personal thank you message to fans of the Panzer Dragoon and Crimson Dragon games:

“We’re also very grateful to the people who learned of our music through games like Panzer Dragoon and Crimson Dragon. AKANE takes a different approach from the music of those games, mixing Japanese folklore with new, more modern sounds. As the title of the album suggests, AKANE is a band on a constant journey. We hope you will enjoy this new, mysterious journey with us!”

I’ve certainly enjoyed going on another Saori Kobayashi journey. If you liked the music of the Panzer Dragoon and Crimson Dragon games I think you will too.

Pirika, a Candidate Theme Song for Panzer Dragoon Saga

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Published by Solo Wing in News

Alex Aniel from Brave Wave tweeted the following trivia about Panzer Dragoon Saga’s theme song:

Trivia: “Pirika” from AKANE’s upcoming album “Journey” was a candidate main theme track for Panzer Dragoon Saga.

As we all know, A Premonition of War became the theme for Panzer Dragoon Saga. But from a historical perspective it’s great that Pirika is also now being released to be public.

Pirika is the sixth track on Saori Kobayashi’s latest album, Journey. You can listen to the track on Bandcamp and preorder the album if you wish.

An Early Cover of Journey

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Published by Solo Wing in News

Natalie Hanke, who designed Journey’s album art, has tweeted a picture of an earlier cover. It looks nice, although I prefer the final design.

Journey is a new album from Panzer Dragoon Saga artist Saori Kobayashi. You can Pre-Order Journey on Bandcamp.

Saori Kobayashi's "Journey" Now Available to Pre-Order

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Published by Solo Wing in News

Akane, the ensemble comprised of Saori Kobayashi (Panzer Dragoon, Crimson Dragon) and Yumiko Takahashi (Suikoden) have revealed the name of their new album: Journey. Saori Kobayashi writes:

Before encountering the series, I didn’t focus on a specific type of music, but composing for Panzer Dragoon Saga and Panzer Dragoon Orta and experiencing these games made me interested in working with similar musical elements. A big part of AKANE is inspired by the Panzer Dragoon series.

Pre-Order Journey

Featuring three Crimson Dragon tracks, and a number of others with similar sounds, Journey is a must purchase for fans of Saori Kobayashi’s work.

The full album will be available 29 September 2014 as a limited edition CD (US$16) and as a digital download (US$10).

Xbox One to Launch in 28 New Countries in September

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Published by Solo Wing in News

Although Xbox One was released in the US, some European countries, Australia, and New Zealand during 2013, many countries still have not had the opportunity to play Crimson Dragon.

This is about to change. Gamespot have posted a list of Xbox One release dates for the month of September.

  • September 2 - Chile and Colombia
  • September 4 - Japan
  • September 5 - Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates
  • September 15 - Israel
  • September 23 - Hong Kong, India, Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, China
  • September 26 - Russia

Microsoft said it plans to launch Xbox One in Argentina soon afterwards.

I see no reason why Crimson Dragon will not be available in all of these countries. It would pay to check before purchasing an Xbox One though, just in case.

How the Panzer Dragoon Saga Theme Song Was Made

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Published by Solo Wing in News

A story was posted earlier this year (in April) on Siliconera that we overlooked, but remains just as relevant, especially with Saori Kobayashi’s new album arriving soon.

The article discusses how Panzer Dragoon Saga’s theme song was made, presumably referring to A Premonition of War, a theme reused in several parts of the game including the end credits song Sona Mi Areru Ec Sancitu. Spencer at Siliconera explains the story:

Saori Kobayashi experimented with several songs as the main theme of Panzer Dragoon Saga. One day, she had spent so much time thinking about it when a coworker invited her to go out drinking. The coworker advised her to be ready to leave in 30 minutes, and the song had to be done that day, so she ended up rushing through and writing it within those 30 minutes. And in that short time an icon song was made.

Extremely impressive if true, although I suspect further refinement would have been made after that. There is also a quote from Saori Kobayashi herself which reveals how she goes about making the music of Panzer Dragoon and Crimson Dragon worlds:

When making music for a game like Panzer Dragoon or Crimson Dragon, the first thing I must think about is the world of the game, which is developed, altered and elaborated on throughout development. I then come up with a few different ideas to match the game, but they are never 100% made to my own liking.

It makes a lot of sense that she would draw on the fictional worlds of these games to come up with final scores that fit very well into those worlds.

Another Sneak Peek of Saori Kobayashi's New Album

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Published by Solo Wing in News

From Brave Wave’s Twitter account:

SNEAK PEEK! Saori Kobayashi & @Tainosugatayaki are releasing a new album soon — here’s a sample of AVALON (りんごの島)

According to the SoundCloud page they’ve just finished mastering the album. The release is still expected next month. I will be receiving an early review copy so expect an opinion of the new album here on The Will of the Ancients soon.

New Album From Saori Kobayashi Coming Next Month

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Published by Solo Wing in News

Some of you may have listened to Saori Kobayashi’s “Shattered Moon” on the recently released In Flux album from Brave Wave. Shattered Moon won’t be last project from Kobaysahi and Brave Wave. Brave Wave sent out an email today which included a short update about Saori Kobayashi’s next album:

One more thing. Next month we’re gonna have a special solo release from Saori Kobayashi (of Panzer Dragoon), with music from the new Crimson Dragon game and featuring legendary composer Nobuo Uematsu (of Final Fantasy) on one track. You can listen to a teaser on Soundcloud. You’re getting this news before anyone else out there!

I’m looking forward to it. Panzer Dragoon Saga and Final Fantasy VII’s composers on the same album, who would have thought? ;)

How to Make Edge Super Tiny

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Published by Solo Wing in News

A new glitch was recently found in Panzer Dragoon Saga which shrinks Edge when inside of Juba’s bar. As far as we know this glitch hasn’t been found before. Panzer Dragoon Saga fans Exodus and Jeremy Prusak have documented the glitch; I’ve added the details to our Panzer Dragoon Saga: The Weird Stuff article. It’s under the subheading “Into the Pit”.

Crimson Dragon Free During August With Xbox Live Gold

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Published by Solo Wing in News

Major Nelson reports that Crimson Dragon will be free to play during August if you have an Xbox Live Gold subscription. Starting on August the 1st, players who have an active Xbox Live Gold subscription will be able to download the game at no additional cost. It appears that this will be the case for the entire month.

GameSpot points out a significant limitation though:

On Xbox 360, once you download a free game, it is yours to keep even if your Xbox Live Gold subscription lapses. But on Xbox One, you’ll need to keep your Xbox Live Gold subscription active to hang on to the free games.

Still, Xbox One owners who have a Live subscription but do not own Crimson Dragon should take advantage of this offer to play Crimson Dragon.

Six Achievements Added to Crimson Dragon

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Published by Solo Wing in News

PlayXBLA reports that six new achievements have been added to Crimson Dragon, worth a total of 350 G. The achievements are as follows:

Seeker Legend
Achieve player level 50
Breaking the Bank
Collect over 2,000,000 in credits in your account
Crimsonscale Erradicator
Kill 10000 enemy creatures
Open Season
Defeat bosses 10 times with an “S” rank.
The Finer Things
Loot 50 rare Items
Enhanced Abilities
Use 100 ampoules

Phantom Dust for Xbox One Revealed at E3

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Published by Solo Wing in News

The E3 game Yukio Futatsugi is involved with turned out to be a Phantom Dust title. View the announcement and trailer on GameSpot.

It’s not clear if this is a new Phantom Dust game, or a remake/remaster of the original for Xbox One. Either would be welcome, especially considering that there was never a PAL version of Phantom Dust, so many of us didn’t have the opportunity to play it. What’s exciting for Panzer Dragoon fans is that there’s still an interest among game publishers in bringing back Futatsugi’s older works. It leaves hope that we could one day see a continuation of the Panzer Dragoon franchise.

Yukio Futatsugi "Involved With" E3 Game

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Published by Solo Wing in News

Yukio Futatsugi, creator of Panzer Dragoon and Crimson Dragon, revealed on Twitter that a game will be announced at E3 that he is involved with. Gematsu provides the following translation:

“Lots of people in my timeline are getting ready to head to Los Angeles for E3,” Futatsugi said. “I can’t go this year for various reasons including an upcoming launch of a smartphone title, as well as one I’ve been running that has been getting great reviews.”

He added, “But a title I’m involved with will be announced. Looking forward to it.”

I doubt this will be a new Panzer Dragoon or Crimson Dragoon game. The Gemastu article suggests a Phantom Dust title as a possibility.

Mobile Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed Now Free

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Published by Solo Wing in News

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, the Sega racing game which features a Panzer Dragoon themed track (Dragon Canyon), is now free for Android and iOS devices. Previously the game cost US$4.99.

Here’s a YouTube video of Dragon Canyon being played on the iPhone 5S.

You can download Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed from the App Store or Google Play. Note that while the game is now “free to play”, some content must still be paid for via in-app purchases. It also looks like you’ll need a relatively new device to play the game; the iOS version requires iOS7 and for Android you’ll need version 4.0 or above.

My thanks goes to SEGAbits for the heads up about this price change.

Saori Kobayashi Performs Crimson Dragon Music Live

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Published by Solo Wing in News

As mentioned in the last update, Saori Kobayashi also performed music from the Crimson Dragon series at BitSummit MMXIV. This time, she plays the main theme from Crimson Dragon (with vocals), as well as “Far Away Wings” from Crimson Dragon: Side Story.

Video Details for "Crimson Dragon Main Theme and Far Away Wings (Saori Kobayashi and Yumiko Takahashi)"

Far Away Wings (also known as Memoir) is the music which plays during the menu screens of Crimson Dragon: Side Story, however for this live performance it has been expanded with Japanese vocals. Awesome. As with the Anu Orta Veniya performance, the vocals for both tracks are sung by Yumiko Takahashi.

These live performances appear to be part of a premotion of a new album called In Flux, featuring a track by Kobayashi called “Shattered Moon”. You can listen to and purchase the album on their Bandcamp store.

Saori Kobayashi Performs Anu Orta Veniya Live

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Published by Solo Wing in News

Saori Kobayashi has performed Anu Orta Veniya from Panzer Dragoon Orta to a live auidence at BitSummit MMXIV in Kyoto. The vocals are sung by Yumiko Takahashi.

Video Details for "Anu Orta Veniya (Saori Kobayashi and Yumiko Takahashi)"

If you listen carefully, you’ll hear Kobayashi play part of “A Premonition of War”, the main theme of Panzer Dragoon Saga, at the beginning of the song.

Kobayashi also did a live performance featuring Crimson Dragon music which I will post soon.

Crimson Dragon Discounted on Xbox Live

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Published by Draikin in News

Major Nelson reports that, among other games, Crimson Dragon is getting a 20-25% discount (depending on the territory) starting from now through February 3rd 2014. The game recently received a free update enabling multiplayer. Unfortunately, Microsoft has yet to release the Xbox One in several countries including my own, so a lot of people out there have still not been able to play the game.

Crimson Dragon Multiplayer and New Difficulty Level

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Published by Solo Wing in News

A new (free) content update has been released for Crimson Dragon. From PlayXBLA:

Riders of Icarus Division, prepare yourselves for an all-new challenge. No, these aren’t in-game challenges, but rather a new way for you to enjoy Crimson Dragon. Today, January 27th, in the wee hours of the morning, there was a Content Update to Crimson Dragon (4GB) which pushed out the anticipated Multiplayer mode. Now you’re able to soar the skies with a friend over Xbox Live!

This Content Update is free to you, and the next time you turn on Crimson Dragon, you’ll be prompted to start the update. In addition to bringing in Multiplayer, the designers behind the game have introduced a new difficulty level, Insane, to test your skills. Hop in and experience Crimson Dragon like you never have before, with your Xbox Live friends.

A Renewed Focus on Panzer and the Future of the Forums

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Published by Solo Wing in News

Happy New Year, everyone. There’s no new Panzer Dragoon/Crimson Dragon content in this post (although if you’re looking for new dragon-related material to read, check out this amusing article I shared earlier on the social networks). Rather, this post is a discussion of a couple of aspects of the site going forward.

Most of the updates to The Will of the Ancients last year were focused on Crimson Dragon. We’ll keep posting updates about the Crimson Dragon franchise as they come in (here’s hoping that a higher budget RPG sequel is revealed within the next few years). When it comes to new content for the coming year, I plan to focus more on the Panzer Dragoon series as that is where my interest primarily lies. While coverage of the Panzer Dragoon series is already relatively high compared to Crimson Dragon, there are plenty of new articles which could be written about Panzer Dragoon. I’ll say no more about these plans for now as I find it better to get on with writing rather than writing about writing (a classic procrastination technique). However, if the community wishes to contribute new Crimson Dragon content, for example fan art, theories, or encyclopaedia entries, these contributions would still be most welcome.

This brings me to my second point: the future of the forums. It is no secret that the forums on this website are powered by very old phpBB2 software, software that I’d like to replace. The question is: replace with what? It’s also no secret that the forums have been decreasing in activity. Even with the advent of Crimson Dragon, the amount of discussion has not significantly risen. I’m not convinced that the replacing the forum software with something more modern will increase activity. The rise of social networks, particularly Facebook, has diverted much of the Internet’s discussion away from forums. However, I still believe there is value in keeping some kind of separate discussion area around on The Will of the Ancients, even if activity is low. As Craymen might say, no social network should wield such power.

There are at least a couple of options for a modern replacement of the current phpBB2 forums. One option is Discourse, a progressive discussion platform from the creator of the popular Q&A website, Stack Overflow. It is excepted that Discourse will reach version 1.0 in the next few months, which might be an ideal time to make the switch. Alternatively, the current Dragoon profile system, which currently just shows information about contributions to this website, could be expanded to allow people to log in to custom forums that could be tightly integrated with other parts of The Will of the Ancients. Because it will be members of the Panzer Dragoon community who will use whatever forum system is chosen, I’d like to gather feedback from the community about the kind of discussion forums you would like to use. To do this, I have started an open discussion called The Future of the Forums.