Lathum, known as Zūsū in the Japanese version of Panzer Dragoon Saga, Azel: Panzer Dragoon RPG, is a huge mutated creature that lived in the desert areas of the Continent. The name Zūsū name is recognisable in the spoken Japanese dialogue when Edge and Gash discuss the lathum they encounter.
Lathums lurked under the desert sands and fed on unsuspecting worms. They were known for their distinctive flat appearance, bubbling skin covered in slime that emitted scalding steam from pores located on their backs, and a foul odor.
Lathums in Panzer Dragoon Saga
Lathums were first introduced to players when Edge and Gash encountered a lathum lurking in the sands of the Garil Desert. At first they saw what simply appeared to be a mound, but Gash soon recognised it as a lathum. He spoke of it being “a” lathum, implying that Team Andromeda had already decided that there were multiple lathums in the Panzer Dragoon world at the time when Panzer Dragoon Saga was developed. Moreover, Gash knew the strategy for defeating lathums, implying that the Seekers had heard of or encountered lathums previously. Edge had not heard of lathums before, although Gash appeared to be quite knowledgable of the creatures. Gash described them as “the most disgusting thing alive” and commented on the lathum’s horrible smell.
The lathum is a sub boss in Panzer Dragoon Saga, and the battle is the first time that players encounter a boss without any safe areas (which display as green on the radar). Edge wondered how he could defeat something as big as the lathum, to which Gash replied that he had to find the lathum’s weak spot. The weak spot appeared in a seemingly random location of the lathum’s back and when exposed it turned a pinkish red colour. Players controlling Edge could then shoot the weak spot and inflict significant damage on the lathum. The lathum was not without its defences, however, and produced heat breath and scalding breath attacks which inflicted significant damage on Edge’s dragon.
When Edge defeated the lathum, it disappeared from view, perhaps to die or nurse its wounds. Since the lathum had been located nearby a worm passageway, the worms could enter freely once again. A red worm broke open the passageway which allowed Edge and his dragon through the passage into the next area of the desert. It is unclear whether the worm was thanking Edge for defeating the lathum or whether it simply wanted to access the passageway which it was only able to do once the entrance was clear.
Lathums in Panzer Dragoon Orta
Lathums were featured in a much different way in Panzer Dragoon Orta than in the game’s predecessor. Rather than being an enemy that the player is required to defeat, the lathum in Panzer Dragoon Orta took the role of a location that Orta visited on her journey. This lathum was much larger than the lathum in Panzer Dragoon Saga and was surrounded by smaller lathums. This suggests that the lathum in Panzer Dragoon Saga was a baby lathum, a different species or subspecies of lathum, or lathums grew to a size which fit their environment. The giant lathum in Panzer Dragoon Orta may have evolved in a much larger desert area giving it room to fill an evolutionary niche with its immense size that the Garil Desert’s small areas enclosed by cliffs did not, however fans can only speculate on the true reason for the size difference between the lathums.
The lathum that Orta visited was home to a tribe of people called the Wormriders. On the back of the lathum the Wormriders had built their village, a small settlement of Wormrider huts. It appears that unlike the back of the Panzer Dragoon Saga lathum, the surface of this larger lathum was inhabitable by human beings. Not only did the lathum’s back feature the Wormriders’ den, but it hosted an ecosystem of mountains, rivers, trees, and perhaps non-human animals.
When the Empire attacked the Wormriders’ den they fired on the back of the lathum. However, likely due to its immense size, the lathum appeared to not find the gunfire harmful enough to retaliate; it perhaps did not feel the gunfire at all. The Imperial soldier who discovered the Wormriders’ den called the lathum “that giant floating creature”, suggesting that he did not recognise the lathum; however the Admiral he reported to recognised it as the creature associated with the Wormriders.