Several years ago, to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the very much unappreciated for its time, Sega Saturn, I spent a month cleverly titled Sega Saturn month to give highlight to a few of its exclusive titles like Deep Fear and Burning Rangers, but the main part was a 2 parter looking at the Panzer Dragoon series, I had nothing but praise for the flight based rail shooter and its RPG spin off, back in 1995, even with all the Saturn’s architecture and launch problems, the original title blew everyone away, including Steven Speilberg who witnessed the game at the first ever E3. The music, the creature designs, even the CGI animations at the time being an absolute trailblazer for the industry
But in 2018, reports were emerging that Sega were planning to remake Panzer Dragoon and its sequel Zwei for modern systems, but we wouldn’t witness the first evidence of that until Nintendo’s E3 2019 presentation, where that familiar music sent more than a few people into excited screams, yours very much included. Then, after an almost 200 day Nintendo Direct drought was quenched by a “Direct Mini”, the remake shadow dropped exclusively on the Switch that day.
I was lucky enough to be gifted with a review copy by the folks handling the remake, Forever Entertainment, to witness how accurate they keep to the original.
From the very beginning with the opening cinematic, it’s clear the small crew over at MegaPixel Studios are certainly Panzer fans like myself, putting a lot of time and effort into making this as familiar as possible, the recreated opening cinematic runs in sync with the original version on Saturn, just with far much more detail.
Graphically, the game obviously looks far better, even on Switch the game runs with nary any framerate issues to speak of. That being said, MegaPixel may have bitten off more than they can chew, with this being one of the first games they have ever released besides the Switch ports of Agony and Grave Keeper, with the character animations feeling a little stiff in places.
But it’s not all bad news, the game still utilizes the old arcade feel with credits, but you can thankfully resume your progress if you decide to leave after several levels. Plus, the remake introduces the best upgrade for the game, dual stick aiming and being able to fire and turn using the shoulder buttons, so aiming is an absolute breeze and plays more like Sin and Punishment then Starfox, but this can be a real double edged sword, the original controls were horse shit, even with the 3D Control Pad, it could be a real struggle getting past even Episode 4. But with these new controls, I was able to breeze through the entire game in almost a day.
Aiming can have a learning curve for other people though, I found that the three spinning squares used as a targeting reticule could prove disorientation to where you are actually aiming, but the game seems to allow you to lockon to an almost infinite amount of enemies on screen, so just wiggle the reticle around and hope for the best at first, and in just the latest adjustment, it seems you have fair more energy compared to the original.
Despite the ups and downs I’m still going to support this game, hell I’m gonna shell out for the Limited Run physical release. Why? Because I want more, I bloody love Panzer Dragoon, more specifically the 3rd Iteration in Panzer Dragoon Saga. That game alone justified the purchase of a Saturn……and a modchip because holy shit, have you seen the prices online. However, while it is certainly in vogue right now to get RPG’s from the Mid 90’s remade in glorious HD, I wouldn’t want Saga in the hands of such an untested studio like MegaPixel, recreating an on rails shooter like Panzer Dragoon and Zwei is one thing, but Saga is a multi hour adventure spanning four discs and unlike a similar game released at the same time on Playstation, barely anyone played it legitimately. Which is sad as it truly is one of the most uncovered Gems in Sega’s history. There has been suggestion that Yukio Futatsugi, the man behind the series wants to tackle a Saga Remake himself, and expand upon the original with a much larger world to explore, and all I can say is, Yes, Yes to ALL that please.
But back to Panzer Dragoon on Nintendo Switch, if you are a fan of the original then you really can’t go wrong, it is everything you loved about the original back in 1995, with a really really shiny new coat
- Faithful to the 1995 Saturn Original
- Beautifully Designed Levels
- Modern Controller Scheme Offers Improved Handling
- Rough around the edges concerning character animations
- Better Controls can make the Game too easy in parts
Review copy supplied by Forever Entertainment, played on Nintendo Switch
The founder and Editor in Chief of UnboxedTV. Nintendo lover and not afraid to admit it, can always go for a good Indie Metroidvania with a nice cold Cider.