PANZER DRAGOON: REMAKE / DEVELOPER: MEGAPIXEL STUDIO / PUBLISHER: FOREVER ENTERTAINMENT / PLATFORM: SWITCH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Originally released almost 25 years ago on Sega Saturn, Panzer Dragoon was an innovative on-rails 3D shooter which was seen as both Sega’s answer to and a natural progression to Nintendo’s Star Fox series. Showing off some of the most impressive polygon-based graphics seen at the time and the ability to turn a full 360 degrees, Panzer Dragoon was a beacon of hope for disenfranchised Saturn fans, full of buyer’s remorse for refusing to wait for Sony’s far more successful PlayStation console. As both a launch title and the best-reviewed game on the system, PD was absolutely vital in Sega’s bid to remain even remotely competitive with Sony’s 32-bit juggernaut. The success of the game facilitated two sequels, a couple of spinoffs and a huge cult legacy with gamers the world over.
Handled by Megapixel Studios, Panzer Dragoon: Remake is an authentic level by level recreation of the original game in high definition with souped up graphics, but can it capture the imagination in the same way the original did? Well, yes and no. There’s absolutely no denying that as a gameplay experience, Panzer Dragoon both knocks it out of the park and stands the test of time. As far as on-rails arcade-style shooters go, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better one, but a lot of the original’s magic has been somewhat lost in translation. Although the game plays absolutely fine (basically exactly the same as the Saturn version) and is nice and smooth, the stylistic elements and general vibe seem at odds with the ambience of the original. Graphics are colourful and vibrant with busy backgrounds, but also appear stagnant and slightly lifeless. As pretty as the environments are, they don’t feel alive in the same way they did in the original. Visuals also have a slightly budget feel to them, with the graphics looking a little like what one would expect to see in an Xbox 360 era XBL game.
Overall we would highly recommend PD:R to anyone who hasn’t experienced the original or is hankering after some on-rails shooting action, but we’d be hard pressed to recommend it to big fans of the series. Although the visuals aren’t quite what we might have hoped for, Megapixel Studios have done an admirable job with the remake and we look forward to seeing how the sequels turn out.