[Review] Panzer Dragoon: Remake – Nintendo Switch

Written by Kevin Orme
  • Developer: MegaPixel Studio
  • Publisher: Forever Entertainment
  • Price: $24.99 / £22.49
  • Release Date: 26/03/2020
  • Review Code Provided By Forever Entertainment

Introducing: Panzer Dragoon Remake Review

I have been waiting a long time to talk about Panzer Dragoon Remake. This remake was announced many moons ago in an E3 Direct what seems like years ago and I was noticeably hyped for it. I played the original game back on the Sega Saturn and loved it. I mean, what wasn’t to like? In 1995 this game was the bees knees. It was everything that I loved from Star Fox for the SNES and that had only come out two years before! The N64 was a year away and the PlayStation was too new for me to really know anything about it. But my seven-year-old self knew a little bit about the Sega Saturn: It had a super cool name and I wanted to play it. A friend of a friend had one, so I got to sneak a peek some weekday nights. I watched as this kid flew around as a righteous dragon blowing up anything that got in his way. I was instantly in love.

Fast forward a jillion years later (and at least three sequels) to today, where after waiting what felt like an eternity to have this game in my hands, I finally have it: Panzer Dragoon Remake. Let me tell you folks: there are a few things you should know before you jump in to this game to make sure you have the best time possible.

Stars, Foxes, and Dragons

Panzer Dragoon Remake is an extremely faithful recreation of the original work, and I can tell you now that this is a good thing. If you’re curious about what this plays like, it’s essentially Star Fox 64 except you can aim in a full 360 degree range around you. Oh yeah, and you’re riding a freaking dragon! I forgot that you also need to add that the entire game is on hard mode compared to Star Fox, but it’s still pretty great. It’s actually a really great setup for games like this.

Much like Star Fox, the game is what is affectionately called a “rail-shooter.” This means that it’s kind of like a roller coaster in the sense that you don’t get to adjust your speed or direction, just your position on the screen and where you’re shooting. It ends up making you much more aware of all the things going on around you. See, near the top of the screen, there is a radar that shows the dragon and a cone shooting off of it to show where you are looking and what enemies are coming close to you. Keeping a constant eye on your radar is key to surviving. See, as compared to Star Fox, there are no health pickups in each stage. You get one life and that’s it! Given, lives are near infinite and continues are pretty common, so it’s not that big of a loss, but you do have to start each stage over from the beginning if you die in the process. It’s something to keep on your mind as you play through this beast.

Dragon Mastery

Panzer Dragoon is an arcade shooter, and this means a few things for those playing. This remake, like Star Fox 64, is meant to be beaten many times. Each time you complete the story mode you are given stats based on how well you performed. Things like enemies defeated and completion percentages fill up the stage completed screen, pushing you to replay stages and get those elusive “100%” ratings. I have seen people complain that “Oh, man! I can’t believe it’s already over!” but games like this are meant to be played like you would an arcade game. In a standard arcade game, I would be more excited about how well I scored and how much better I did than my friends than how long the experience was.

Also, something to think about the length of Panzer Dragon is that while there may not be a hundred levels or thirty bosses, the levels that you are faced with are certainly tough. The game will give you credits or continues with every successful level clear and I promise that you will use them. This game will chew you up and spit you out if you go into it thinking this will be a breeze. You’re gonna die a bunch, but that’s all part of the game’s appeal. Panzer Dragoon challenges you to constantly be aware of your surroundings and to respond quickly and powerfully. Reacting quickly to assaults from all sides will not only get those stage stats up, but also keep you alive.

Picturesque Dragons

Now, enough about the gameplay. This remake addsa lot of things that fans of the series will really appreciate. As I said earlier, the game originally released in 1995, so you can imagine that it might look marginally better than its original form. You would be very correct in thinking this. The artists who redesigned the world and the enemies have done an amazing job making this world shine as it was originally intended. For comparison, look at the screenshots above. On the left is the original, in all of its Sega Saturn glory. And then, through black magic and wizardry twenty five years later, the righthand screenshot shows how the game looks remade.

Good heavens that’s a heck of an upgrade! This loving care is so wonderful to see as the team behind the game has fine tuned a few things mechanically while massively upgrading the visual style for this gem of a game. You love to see it.

Speaking of loving to see it, this game understands that you probably want to stop and look at the world around you. It is just so dang pretty! So, the fine folks working on Pazer Dragoon Remake decided to add a photo mode so you can take incredible action shots of the beautiful landscapes. If you want to, at any moment during gameplay you can pause the game and select “Photo Mode” to get an amazing perspective on how great this game looks. This mode pauses the game where you are and lets you adjust the camera angle to take some pretty stellar shots. The tools are simple, but they can make some stuff look incredible. It really lets the visual design of the game shine!

I highly recommend noodling around in this mode to really get a great look at how wonderful this new art is.

Technically Speaking

This game runs really well in handheld mode and I couldn’t find any huge frame rate or resolution increase in docked mode. The music fits the game and I can’t say that it was amazing, but it was certainly good. There’s not a lot to complain about with this game. The studio behind it has been meticulous in making sure that the game is as good as they were able to make it.

The only gripe I have with the game on a technical aspect is the loading times. Those times range anywhere from forty to fifty seconds per load. Now, I know I might sound like a whiny baby about it, but it kind of feels just a bit too long to not be noticeable. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but it’s just frustrating enough to be something you notice. Otherwise, Panzer Dragoon Remake runs really well.

Final Thoughts

On the whole, Panzer Dragoon Remake is pretty great! I’m not sure there’s anything you’re not going to like if you’re into this kind of game. Yeah, it’s a bit hard, but it is a throwback to 1995 difficulty. While tough at times, the challenge and the goal of getting perfect scores in every stage kept me coming back for more. It’s quality stuff and I hope that you support this game and get to know how good it is. Considering that the remake of Panzer Dragoon Zwei (the sequel) is already in the works, I’m excited to see more!

Pros

  • Solid difficulty to keep you coming back for more
  • Gorgeous visuals
  • A great entry point for people to fall in love with the series again.

Cons

  • Long load times
  • Leaves you wanting more
  • Occasional frustration with dodging

Verdict

With a satisfying challenge and incredible visuals, Panzer Dragoon Remake is a great arcade shooter and simply a quality video game.

4/5

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