One of the interesting aspects about the Panzer Dragoon series is how dramatically the musical style changes between the first and second games in the series. Whereas the original Panzer Dragoon featured a fully orchestrated soundtrack, the next two followups, Panzer Dragoon Zwei and Panzer Dragoon Saga, went to pure PCM produced by the Saturn’s internal sound hardware. The strange mix of synth sounds and tribal motifs in these games’ soundtracks certainly isn’t a downgrade, however – it’s wonderful in its own way, and is probably the “sound” more associated with the Panzer Dragoon series as a whole.
Game: Panzer Dragoon Saga
Composer: Saori Kobayashi
Above: Interception from Panzer Dragoon Saga
Interception is the song played when hero Edge and his dragon first make their way through the Tower – an ancient structure which contains unbelievable technology, the true nature of which, at this point in the game, is still shrouded in mystery. You start from the bottom part of the tower and make your way upwards. Imagine this song playing as you soar onwards and upwards through narrow, branching corridors lined with strange, neon blue-tinted technology, all while being actively hunted down by the enemy ships of the Empire. The sense of foreboding and urgency in this song really sets the mood for the area, as well as hinting what’s yet to come – because this is the point in the game where shit totally gets real.
The songs in Panzer Dragoon Saga have a lot in common with the tracks from its immediate predecessor, Panzer Dragoon Zwei. The instrument set used is very similar, as is the overall feel of the songs. The interesting mix of tribal-sounding beats with more sophisticated synth sounds reflects the unusual place of humanity in the Panzer Dragoon world – most people barely live above a medieval, subsistence existence, but powerful forces seen and unseen use fantastic technology to attempt to control the earth. Here’s the BGM from the ruins level in Panzer Dragoon Zwei – another fine example of these sorts of tracks.
We’ll finish off today’s entry with another excellent piece from Panzer Dragoon Saga: a recurrent boss battle with the strange being Azel and her own gargantuan dragon, Atolm. You’ll hear it several times throughout the game, and though the circumstances in which the fights occur always change, the song never ceases to convey the weight of fighting against a very large and unpredictable foe.
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