[[caption-width-right:280:Dragons don't breathe fire... they breathe ''{{homing lasers}}''.]]
->"The fate of the world rests on the wings of an armoured blue dragon..."
-->-- ''Opening narration to Panzer Dragoon''

''Panzer Dragoon'' is a tetralogy of games made for the UsefulNotes/SegaSaturn and UsefulNotes/{{Xbox}}. The first, second, and fourth games are {{dragon|Rider}}-riding {{rail shooter}}s, while the third is a unique EasternRPG. The series is famous for its beautiful soundtrack, AfterTheEnd plotline and surreal ScienceFiction atmosphere, owing a lot to ''Franchise/{{Dune}}'', French artist {{Moebius}} (who drew the box art for the first game in Japan and is credited with some design inspiration), and ''Manga/NausicaaOfTheValleyOfTheWind'' (more of the manga than the anime).

Far in the distant future, mankind colonized another unspecified planet (WildMassGuessing makes it likely it's Mars), thanks to harnessing the power of {{terraform}}ing run by {{artificial human}}s called "Drones", created from giant Towers that spit out streams of artificial creatures. The people who actually knew how to work the things, the "[[{{Precursors}} Ancients]]", put themselves to sleep for a couple thousand years to wait for the terraforming to complete itself and left everyone else to fend for themselves. Flash forward centuries later, and [[FromBadToWorse everything has gone to pot]]: the Towers never completed the terraforming, instead spewing out hostile monsters constantly. The Ancient's cryogenics failed, leaving them all dead. Mankind is forced to attempt to live on a [[DesertPunk halfway barren]] {{scavenger|World}}, DeathWorld, filled with EverythingTryingToKillYou. In the midst of this, TheEmpire ruthlessly seeks to harness the power of the LostTechnology from the Ancients to unite all humanity and its colonies but are prevented by general fear and confusion, as every so often, a single dragon and its Rider appears from almost nowhere to combat them.

The games which comprise this series include:
* ''Panzer Dragoon'', released for the Sega Saturn (and PC) in 1995, players take control of [[SpellMyNameWithAnS Keil/Kyle]], a mutant hunter whose excursion into the desert is interrupted when he witnesses a battle between two dragons, the most powerful genetically engineered monsters spoken of legend. The black dragon kills the blue dragon's rider, who urges Kyle to mount his creature to one of the Towers so it can be destroyed.\\
The game was notable for being a rail shooter that allowed a full 360-degree camera rotation to fight enemies in all directions. There was also a [[UpdatedRerelease Sega Ages]] version of the game for the UsefulNotes/PlayStation2, which spruced up the visuals and smoothed everything out (including bumping the frame rate to a more natural 30 FPS). Naturally, this version [[NoExportForYou stayed in Japan]].
* ''Panzer Dragoon [[GratuitousGerman Zwei]]'', a {{prequel}} released for the Sega Saturn in 1996, gives more insight as to the origin of the blue dragon from the first game. A mutant [[HorseOfADifferentColor Coolia]] is spared by a boy named Lundi from the ritual killing of all mutants, as he couldn't bring himself to do the deed, especially when he noticed the Coolia in question had the especially rare mutation of ''wings''. Adopting it as his own under the name "Lagi", Lundi attempts to teach it how to fly on the outskirts of town one day, when suddenly a flying Tower, dubbed "Shelcoof" by the Empire, destroys his home in a blinding flash, leaving the two with naught but the desire to take revenge.\\
''Zwei'' introduced the [[LimitBreak Berserk Meter]], which could unleash [[BeamSpam a barrage of lasers]] on sight, and the concept of dragon evolution: Lagi had various forms which it would mutate into at the end of each stage, according to score and play style, with a perfect run yielding the series' iconic blue dragon. The music also had a more ethnic feel to it than the orchestral/techno feel of the original game; the series would continue to use this style in later entries.
* ''Panzer Dragoon Saga'', also known as ''AZEL: Panzer Dragoon RPG'', is an RPG released for the Sega Saturn in 1998. It tells the story of Edge, a boy who finds [[GirlInABox female]] Drone named Azel at the dig site he's assigned to protect, only to be double-crossed and killed by the Black Fleet, the Empire's elite soldiers. Led by a man named Craymen, they claim the girl for their own in their rebellion against the Emperor, who has gone mad with power and intends to harness the Towers for his own nefarious purposes, of for which he needs Azel. Edge is mysteriously revived and rescued by a strange, but powerful dragon, who seemingly has its own agenda concerning the Towers. Together, they set out to exact revenge on Craymen, unwittingly thrusting the pair into the conflict between the two factions.\\
The game was praised for its very unique art direction, eclectic soundtrack, interesting combat engine (for an RPG, mind you), engaging story, and gameplay that managed to avoid many (although not all) of [[TheGrandListOfConsoleRolePlayingGameCliches the more common RPG tropes]]. It also expanded the mutation concept from ''Zwei'' to allow real-time transformations of Edge's dragon. Four stats were separated into two inversely-related pairs, and allowed the player to boost one of each pair while making the deficiencies in the other more pronounced (Attack boosts the power of the dragon's HomingLasers, while Spiritual increase damage of special attacks; Defense decreases the amount of damage taken and Agility allows the Active Time Battle-like gauge to charge faster and dodge faster).\\
Only a handful of copies of the game were made, as the Saturn was on the way out to pave the way for the UsefulNotes/SegaDreamcast. It remains highly sought after to this day, and [[CrackIsCheaper commands extreme prices on online markets]]. As such, having a copy's considered a badge of honor for Saturn owners.
* ''Panzer Dragoon Orta'' is the epilogue of sorts for the series. Developed by Smilebit (who had many of the original Team Andromeda developers, after they split up following ''Saga'') and released on the Xbox in 2002, it stars [[CharacterTitle Orta]], [[spoiler:the daughter of Edge and Azel,]] who is fought over by various factions [[spoiler:because of [[HalfHumanHybrid her unique nature]]]]. She's taken prisoner but rescued by a dragon and flies her way to freedom away from a villainous Drone called Abadd, who believes she's the key to restoring the Ancients. ''Orta'' ends on a bit of a more positive note as human civilization and mutated creatures begin to bond with each other to form a real working ecosystem without the influence of the Towers. It also includes a separate story mode that follows an Imperial boy named Iva Demilcol as he fights for the Empire, as well as his encounters with Orta.\\
''Orta'' took the Berserk System of ''Zwei'' and the transformation mechanics from ''Saga'' and adopted it to the series' original shooter formula, with a dragon that could mutate into three different forms on the fly: "Base Wing" ([[JackOfAllStats a standard form with no noticeable strengths/weaknesses]]), "Heavy Wing" ([[MightyGlacier powerful offensive form with limited mobility]]) and "Glide Wing" ([[FragileSpeedster most nimble form]], but lacks HomingLasers, yet can shoot down enemy MacrossMissileMassacre with ease and carries a unique HealingFactor via its Berserk Attack). In order to increase each form's capabilities, "gene bases" must be acquired by either destroying enemies or the environment. ''Orta'' was lauded critically for showing off what the Xbox was capable of (and, to this day, ''still'' looks gorgeous), tight controls, numerous throwbacks to the original trilogy, and a veritable slew of bonus content that could stretch the replay value for hours (including the original ''Panzer Dragoon'' as an unlockable bonus). Alas, as with most of the series, it went by relatively unnoticed.
* There's also the Sega UsefulNotes/GameGear SpinOff ''Panzer Dragoon Mini'', which takes the series and creates a FunSize variation. ''Mini'' was basically ''Panzer Dragoon'', minus the rider, but with extra "cute" added in place.

The series went dormant following ''Orta'', especially after Smilebit was folded back into Sega in the mid-2000s. The creators, however have never been anything short of enthusiastic about the potential future for the series, and the fan following for the series remains very strong. In 2011, a SpiritualSuccessor, headed by the creator of the series, was announced for the UsefulNotes/{{Xbox 360}} and the Kinect. Entitled ''Project Draco'', this is the closest thing fans will have to a new ''Panzer Dragoon'' game. As of {{E3}} 2013, it has been rebranded as ''VideoGame/CrimsonDragon'' and is set to launch alongside the UsefulNotes/XboxOne. Sega also threw the series a bone when they included "Dragon Valley" in ''[[VideoGame/SegaSuperStars Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed]]''.

Definitely not to be confused with ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfDragoon''.

!!The ''Panzer Dragoon'' series provides examples of:
* AnyoneYouKnow: ''Saga'' loves this trope.
* {{AFGNCAAP}}: "The Divine Visitor" in ''Saga''
* AfterTheEnd: ''Orta'': its encyclopedia even refers to the events of ''Saga'' as "The Great Fall". Even before that, the original game opens "thousands of years" after a "once-thriving human civilization perished into dust".
* AlwaysAccurateAttack: The dragons' "Arrows of Light" will always hit an enemy, so long as the targets don't go behind cover of some form (like the clouds in [[spoiler:the final level]] of ''Orta''). Averted with ''Saga'': some (fortunately very few) enemies, Zastava for instance are capable of dodging dragon lasers.
* TheAnimeOfTheGame: Based loosely on the first game; included some CallingYourAttacks by Kyle and a love interest named Alita who became the Black Dragon's rider.
* AnotherSideAnotherStory: Iva's Story in ''Orta''
* ArchaeologicalArmsRace: Several factions are after technology left behind by [[ThePrecursors the Ancients]], generally for this purpose.
* ArtificialHuman: ''Saga'' and ''Orta'' revolve around the Drones
* ATeamFiring: The first boss of ''Orta''. The Vermana battleship constantly fires multiple machine gun turrets at you throughout the fight, yet these are harmless, unlike the missiles. Also while fighting the first boss in the original, several soldiers can be seen on the deck firing machine guns at you which are equally harmless (you can still shoot them however).
* {{Badass}}: The dragon, in all its forms, and its chosen riders all qualify.
* BeamSpam: The Berserk Attack can rain down a barrage of homing lasers against everything on screen.
* BilingualBonus: Only the intro and ending to ''Saga'' are in Panzerese; the rest of the game is in Japanese. Easy to tell when the switch occurs, as Edge's name starts being pronounced "Ejji" rather than "Edge" by the characters.
** Iva's missions in ''Orta'' are introduced and concluded in Greek.
* BrokeTheRatingScale: "Out of Bounds": IGN ''told'' their readers to ignore the 10 for the graphical score of ''Orta'' and mentally overwrite an 11 in the box.
* CastFromHitPoints: The Els Enora boss in ''Orta'' shoots spears made from its own ''body fluids'' and can [[PerpetualMolt shed a veritable wall of crystalline feathers]] to try and snare the dragon. Once you break all its arms, it TurnsRed and shoots out ALL of its blood at you. At this point, it becomes immune to player attacks, but loses health every time it shoots at you until it finally passes out.
* CharacterTitle: ''Orta'' and the Japanese version of ''Saga''.
* CompilationRerelease: ''Panzer Dragoon Zwei''[='=]s was re-released in Japan along with its predecessor for the Sega Saturn several months after later as ''Panzer Dragoon I & II''.
* CollectorOfTheStrange: Both the Empire and the Seekers, each after the technology of the Ancients in their own ways.
* ConceptArtGallery: In the "Pandora's Box" feature of ''Orta''. Concept art is unlocked by doing well in the levels or clocking in enough gameplay hours.
* CoolAirship: Shelcoof; the Empire has tons of these as well, like the Vermana.
* CrapsackWorld: The only way to be (somewhat) safe from giant mutated horrors is to live in the Empire. Unfortunately, there's a good chance of you being conscripted to fight said horrors, anyway. Then there's the incident involving the first tower, and then Craymen felt that genocide was the only option...
* CreatingLife: The Ancients did it first, then the Empire learned to reverse-engineer dragons, creating "dragonmares" in the process.
* {{Cyberspace}}: When Edge and Orta are digitzed into Sestren, the artificial intelligence running the Towers, in their respective games.
* TheDevTeamThinksOfEverything: In addition to the OldSaveBonus, ''Zwei'' has an option to format its picture for widescreen displays.
* DiscOneFinalDungeon: The Tower in Disc 3 of ''Saga''.
* DisneyDeath: In ''Saga'', Zastava shoots Edge in the stomach, which blows him backwards and makes him tumble down into a deep crevasse. [[spoiler:Subverted because Edge ''did'' die, if not the blast, but ''definitely'' the impact with the water below, but he's restored to life to become the Divine Visitor's avatar.]]
* DoesNotLikeShoes: Orta is barefoot at all times, ''even in the snow''. Granted, she likely doesn't have any shoes in the first place.
* DownerEnding: ''Panzer Dragoon'', ''Zwei'' and ''Orta'' end with [[spoiler:the dragon's HeroicSacrifice]], but ''Saga'' is the worst offender, ending with [[spoiler:the revelation that Edge was DeadAllAlong, kept alive as a NoFourthWall avatar for the player, the Divine Visitor, and leaving the fate of most of the supporting cast uncertain]].
** ''Orta'' does place a HopeSpot: [[spoiler: TheStinger shows Orta walking into the wilderness with a new dragon pup by her side, a tone that's quite a bit less somber than it seems. Recall in the beginning of the game on the amount of angst she had on being alone for all her life, until the dragon rescued her]].
* DragonRider: Justified as the Ancients engineered them so they specifically wouldn't work without a human rider, so they wouldn't go berserk. Riders can at least help the dragons by deflecting shots with their laser guns. Also ties into MeaningfulName. Guardian Dragon in Zwei seems to be the exception as we never see a rider.
* DudeWheresMyRespect: Kyle is easily the most forgotten rider of the games. See TheUnchosenOne.
* EmbeddedPrecursor: The original ''Panzer Dragoon'' is included in ''Orta'' and is playable after beating the game once.
* TheEmpire: The Empire of the ''Panzer Dragoon'' series were power-hungry and seeking the power from the Ancient's lost technology.
* EvilTowerOfOminousness: The Towers, which created hostile creatures instead of completing the terraforming tasks.
* FallingIntoTheCockpit: Kyle, Edge, and Orta. Lundi subverts the trend by not immediately flying on Lagi, but teaching it how to fly.
* {{Fictionary}}: "Panzerese", a fictional language which appears to be based off of Latin with the syntax of Japanese.
* FightWoosh: ''Saga'' uses a FadeToWhite effect.
* FunSize: ''Panzer Dragoon Mini'' is presented entirely in a SuperDeformed manner.
* GameLevel: Referred to as "Episodes".
* {{Gotterdammerung}}: The Ancient's lost terraforming technology.
* HalfHumanHybrid: [[spoiler:Orta, who's half-human and half-Drone as she is Edge's and Azel's daughter.]]
* HeelFaceTurn: [[spoiler:The Ancients, who introduced the Heresy Program (which itself is responsible for the player-controlled, mutating dragons seen in the series) into Sestren with the task of destroying the Towers that asserted their control over the planet's development.]]
** [[spoiler:Craymen. Edge doesn't ever ''forgive'' him for killing his entire troop (himself included) to capture Azel, but at Craymen's request, the two end up [[EnemyMine working against their common enemy]], the Emperor, by the end of Disc 3]]. Azel also counts as she was originally built as a weapon to take over a tower and hopefully guide the Heresy Program back to Sestren. Craymen convinced her to help him in his attempt to re-activate the tower in his somewhat misguided attempt to "restore this world" instead. This was followed by Edge convincing her to go back to her original duty, making hers a double heel face turn.
* HorseOfADifferentColor: Coolias, which are lizard-fish things that can mutate into dragons.
* InUniverseGameClock: Used in ''Saga'' to cycle between day, dusk and night in towns or at camp.
* IncrediblyDurableEnemies: In-universe example with "Pure-type" monsters, which have a much more advanced form of armor that human weapons are unable to damage. It's only when the player characters acquire their dragons and special guns that they can start battling them on equal footing. Lazara are among the easiest enemies in Saga to beat.
* InsignificantLittleBluePlanet: It's obvious the world is half-way colonized, but nobody remembers what planet they originally came from or how the hell they got there.
* KleptomaniacHero: Subverted in ''Saga'': a lot of the doors in towns are locked.
* LaResistance: Subverted: while the Empire is corrupt, it's NecessarilyEvil.
* LittlestCancerPatient: {{Deconstructed|Trope}} with Iva: nobody ever lets him off easy due to his illness, and he's fully expected to perform as a soldier of the Empire, until the Seekers take him in. Even then, he provides them false information in a lack of trust. His father left him a note explaining the truth about his condition (he'd drank polluted water as a child and was taking pills [[spoiler:made from dragonmare-sourced serum]] to stave off the infection), and when he finds out that he's out of medicine, he rushes off on a SuicideMission to accomplish one last good before he dies. [[spoiler:Iva does die, but in his new friend's arms]].
* LivingMacguffin: Azel and Orta.
* MeaningfulName: In-universe, "Orta" is Panzerese for "day".
** The series' title also qualifies: at its most bare bones, it effectively becomes Panzer = ''Tank'', Dragoon = ''Mounted Infantry''. On a deeper level, it really makes more sense (see [[http://www.thewilloftheancients.com/articles/its-all-in-the-name here]] for a better explanation).
* MindScrew: The ending of ''Saga'' has [[spoiler:the Divine Visitor, who is revealed to be the player]]. Read it [[https://web.archive.org/web/20101022061626/http://www.thewilloftheancients.com/translations/pds_ending.php here]].
* MonsterIsAMommy: Invoked when Orta defeats the Els Enora... who is then [[KickTheDog slaughtered, along with her offspring]], by Abadd.
* MysticalWhiteHair: Orta has white hair [[spoiler:as she's half-drone on her mother's side]].
* NamedWeapons: The dragons' [[strike:lasers]] "Arrows of Light".
* NarratorAllAlong: Either Sestren or [[spoiler: the Heresy Program]]; whoever it is, it's not human.
* NewGamePlus: Box Game in ''Zwei'', the [=PlayStation=] 2 version of ''Panzer Dragoon'', and ''Orta''.
* NiceHat: Keil/Kyle's hat is pretty distinctive, and comes with goggles to boot! Orta's as well, which doubles as a ScarfOfAsskicking due to it being a turban.
* NotSoDifferent: Iva's Story demonstrates how the Empire views Orta and her dragon: a witch hellbent on destruction.
* OddlyNamedSequel: Of course, the series has no real consistent ThemeNaming, but ''Orta'' subverts this in the alternate closing credits, which identifies it as ''Panzer Dragoon Vier''. "Vier" is German for "four".
* OldSaveBonus: ''Zwei'' and ''Saga'' can actually affect each other with their saves, as they were developed concurrently. Having a save file of the first game while playing ''Zwei'' unlocks the Box Game, while having ''Zwei''[='=]s save while playing ''Saga'' will unlock a Music Box that plays ''Zwei''[='=]s theme by talking to a girl in the Holy District of Zoah.
* OrganicTechnology: Almost all technology is organic, including the guns. Yes, the guns are snail-sized and shaped living organisms.
* OurDragonsAreDifferent: Dragons are only dragons in the most general sense: they perform more like living [[Franchise/StarWars X-Wings]] and shoot lasers and tend to look more like giant armored fish with horns crossed with an Creator/HRGiger doodle. They're really only "dragons" in title. The Ancients simply referred to any biological creature with the highest tier of power to be referred to as a dragon. In-universe, the modern day usage is on par with using the word "dragon" to mean a god or an instrument of god.
** Considering almost ''all'' wildlife presented is spectacularly alien with the exception of "humans", this really isn't that far of a stretch.
* PleaseWakeUp: Orta to [[spoiler:her dragon after defeating Abadd]].
-->'''Orta''': "Hey... what's wrong? Open your eyes... please..."
* PointAndClickGame: The non-battle portions of ''Saga'', while still maintaining the series' lock-on control scheme.
* PromotedToLoveInterest: Azel in the English translation of ''Saga''. [[spoiler:Apparently [[AscendedFanon adopted as canon]] in ''Orta'', as she becomes the mother of the titular character for the game using Edge's genes.]]
* PsychicLink: All dragons form a mental bond with their riders which presents their mission of destroying the Towers. Orta is the exception, as the dragon is merely there to guide and protect her.
* PsychoForHire: Evren and her dragonmare cavalry (to a lesser extent) in ''Orta''. And then there's Zastava in Saga.
* RecurringCharacter: The blue dragon is an available form in all four games; it's referred to as "Solo Wing" in ''Zwei'', ''Saga'' and ''Orta''. By default, it's considered the highest form the dragon can assume, being the single most powerful form in each game its in, save for the first, since it was the ''only'' form available.
* RedBaron: The Empire has taken to calling the dragon the "Dragon of Destruction", which pretty much sums it up. Granted, its technical title of "[[spoiler:Heresy Program]]" isn't any better.
* RuleOfCool: How else could you explain a series revolving around a post-apocalypse sci-fi fantasy world with giant robots, ancient androids, and shapeshifting dragons that can shoot laser beams?
* SceneryPorn: When the game launched, ''Orta'' was critically lauded for its gorgeous graphics which showcased a wide range of locations. Even by today's standards, it could be mistaken for a first-run Xbox 360 title.
* SlidingScaleOfTurnRealism: ''Saga'' uses a variant of ''Final Fantasy'''s Active Time Battle. In battle, not moving or attacking will cause the action gauges to fill up, stocking up to a maximum of three. Repositioning prevents gauge from accruing until the motion is over; Edge's gun, the dragon's lasers and using items cost one gauge; and Berserk attacks cost two.
* StoryToGameplayRatio: The first game, ''Zwei'' and ''Orta'' have almost none. The entire story has to be pieced together from ''Saga'' and ''Orta'' via the bonus material world bible.
* TakingYouWithMe: Evren blows up her dragonmare to try to take out Orta. Doesn't quite work, although it does render her dragon temporarily unable to fly.
* TheUnchosenOne: Kyle at the start of ''Panzer Dragoon'', the blue dragon's original rider is killed by the dark dragon, and he just happens to be there to see it. The unnamed rider gives him his mission as his dying wish, then just keels over.
** This also leads to the rather unfortunate side-effect of Kyle being the one rider just about everyone seems to forget, since his place in the series is seemingly nominal at best when compared to the other heroes. However, some DO note that for the dragon to fight at maximum capacity, it ''needs'' a rider; without Kyle, it could never have accomplished its mission.
* UnwittingPawn: Oh, dear god, '''Edge'''.
* UpdatedRerelease: The Sega Ages 2500 Vol. 27 re-release of the first game features an "Arrange Mode" that boasts higher resolution visuals and updated models along with the original Sega Saturn version. It also includes a Box Mode with a slew of unlockables to make it more in line to the game's predecessors, and audio commentary from Yukio Futatsugi, the original game's director.
* VendorTrash: All sorts of it in ''Saga''.
* VestigialEmpire: Simply called "The Empire". It's been crumbling for quite a while and every-so-often someone with a dragon comes along and kicks the crap out of it a little more each time.
** As of ''Orta'', it ''was'' making somewhat of a comeback because it started integrating the colonial cultures into it instead of driving them into the ground. Lord only knows what Orta blowing up their airforce ''again'' did to them, though.
* VoluntaryShapeshifting: Lagi, Edge's and Orta's dragon can remold their bodies to enhance their battle effectiveness in terms of strength, defense, speed and "spirit power".
* WelcomeToCorneria: Played with in ''Saga'', as some people will simply refuse to talk to you because they don't know you. You also have the possibility to listen to conversations from afar.