The World of Panzer Dragoon
The Panzer dragoon games are set on an unidentified post-apocalyptic planet which was once home to highly evolved race of humans known as the Ancients. The Ancients possesed the technology to create genetically engineered monsters which were able to survive the mysterious cataclysm that destroyed their creators and now hunt the remaining humans. The technology of the ancients also forms the bases for current military's technology and through salvaging and reparing ancient weapons a faction known as the Empire has been able to gain dominance over the rest of the planet.
The first three games in the series all center around the destruction of the Towers, gigantic structures built by the ancients to regulate the planets climate and control the population. Each tower housed thousands of monsters which once activated would eliminate any human resistance. The idea being that this would prevent pollution, overpopulation and wars.
There are many towers throughout the Panzer Dragoon World, they vary on form from the static structures seen in Panzer Dragoon Saga, to the gigantic flying Shelcoof from Panzer Dragoon Zwei. All of them are controlled by a central entity called Sestren whom Edge defeats at the conclusion of the third game.
The Heresy Program
The Heresy program was created by an unknown group of Ancients who sought the destruction of the Towers. Originally they tried to destroy them by deploying the program directly into sestren but the program was rejected and their plan failed. The program survived by inhabiting living creatures, then altering their creatures DNA. The Mutant Coolia discovered by Jean-Luc Lundi at the start of Panzer Dragoon Zwei is one such creature. If allowed to mature these creatures will then evolve into fully grown Dragons intent on destroying the towers.
The games in the franchise are primarily based on an on-rails format that limits the player to a pre-determined path (multiple paths in later games) where the only control they have over the dragon is to avoid attacks and obstacles. You also control a reticle for targeting enemies with both your rider's weapon and the dragons' attacks. A staple of the series is the locking on of multiple targets then releasing a barrage of homing attacks after charging for a period of time.
The different game mechanics can be traced back to previous Sega arcade titles like Space Harrier and After Burner, including the lock-on function and the ability to traverse on the ground and the air at will.
Much has been said about the distinct art style of the franchise. When it initially was shown, the refreshing style and fully imagined world were astounding where robots and cartoon characters were common place in the games of the time. This is also responsible in some way of ushering in the new era of 32-bit gaming where high production values could allow games to look much more cinematic and detailed with the new technology.
The art design in the Panzer Dragoon series has always been attributed to the works of Moebius. While he himself only produced a number of concept paintings and the cover art for the first game, his involvement was predominantly as inspiration. The otherworldly landscapes of barren desert dotted with ancient ruins under a cloudless stark blue sky, with humans wearing attire of nomadic hunters riding fantastical beasts are the stuff games are made of.