Panzer Dragoon Remake
Panzer Dragoon -- The Godfather Of Shooters
Initially, I thought that Panzer Dragoon was the first “on-rails” 3D console shooter to grace a platform for many of its players at home until I quickly remembered that technically it was Star Fox that pushed the boundaries to what was possible due to the SuperFX chip. The Saturn trumped the SNES in power, of course largely because its competition was the Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation, making the capabilities of Panzer Dragoon go leaps and bounds over Star Fox.
Unfortunately, the lack of sales on the Saturn meant that the shooter classic and its sequel were, for the longest time, unplayable for many who did not own a Saturn. Aside from a sequel released on the Xbox under the title Panzer Dragoon Orta, the series has remained dormant until Sega revealed plans to have the first two games of the series remade, with the first being remade on the Switch first and on other consoles and the PC versions at a later time that same year. Limited Run Games handled the “limited ran” physical copy of both the Switch and the PS4, which is what I looked at in terms of the former.
A Faithful Recreation Of Panzer Dragoon -- Or Is It?
So, once again, I was uncertain that there was a console version available of the Panzer Dragoon Remake. By all accounts, I wish that I found out about the other versions before the Switch version. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so harsh towards it. It’s understandable once the main negative gets brought to light.
Focusing on the positives, the intro video is reminiscent of the original, telling the story of how the protagonist would come across a dragon. Armed with a blaster cannon, the protagonist and the dragon rides off to fight other dragons and mechs and enemy fleets, with the dragon doing most of the piloting and the player responsible for using his blaster cannon to attack waves of enemies.
How Do You Do, Mr. Dragoon?
Shooting is done via rapid cannon fire or a lock-on system that automatically targets all possible enemies and blasts them away after a small delay. The latter is needed for most enemies that come in droves, yet precision shooting is a necessity for some bosses when the former fails to do its justice.
Another selling point for Panzer Dragoon alongside its remake is the “360-degree view” which means that the player can rotate the camera with a push of a button, allowing them to target their flank and their rear.
Panzer Dragoon Is A Big Experience, Short Package
The levels themselves are fairly short, taking the player through bright open forests, arid deserts, and claustrophobic interior bases. The different ranges of levels require the player to maneuver their dragon through the various obstacles as well as enemy fire, most of which can be destroyed by shooting at the projectiles, otherwise needing to be avoided. Each level ends with a boss that has their specific mechanic outside of “avoid their projectiles and shoot when vulnerable.”
One boss fight required me to use the rapid-fire shooting to even deal damage to the boss because my targeting shots were causing the boss to deflect everything I threw. Of course, by the time I realized this I was already dead, but thankfully the levels are short enough to reach the end in no time should you have to use a continue. The game consists of seven stages, all of which with perfect play can be finished in under an hour.
Panzer Dragoon Remake Is A Fun Game -- If I Could Play It...
The visuals are beautiful to look at, with not much difference between quality and performance mode in terms of gameplay at least while docked. The major criticism for the Switch version is its abysmal load times. It got to be a point when I would count how long it would take to load each level, rounding out anywhere from 40 seconds to over a minute. For a game this small of a size, it’s inexcusable and it makes dying feel more like punishment as even while I died with the level fully loaded I found myself waiting the same amount of time as if it was an entirely new level.
I had a goal to finish the game within the end of the first take, but, I grew annoyed from the load times as it were. When the load times end up taking seven minutes in total and you spend more time twiddling your fingers or browsing your phone to fill in the silence as you wait for the next level to load, that’s when things become a huge issue. The remake is a beautiful spectacle and a faithful reimagining of the first game. Thankfully there are much better platforms to experience the title and the Switch would be the last place I’d recommend to do so, not even for the portability advantage.
Panzer Dragoon Remake is available on the PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Google Stadia.