Apr 21, 2020

Panzer Dragoon Remake Nintendo Switch Review

A Sega Saturn classic returns 🐲



By Paul Hunter

Some series have completely disappeared from the gaming landscape, but not necessarily from the hearts of players. Good examples would be Banjo-Kazooie, Sly Cooper and Ape Escape. Then there's Panzer Dragoon, another beloved franchise we haven't seen since Orta released in 2003. The series captured gamers attention when it helped launch the Sega Saturn in 1995, yet despite the praise would later fade away like so many great ones do. That is, until this year when seemingly out of nowhere a remake by MegaPixel Studio launched on Nintendo Switch.

The title is exclusive to Nintendo Switch for a couple months, but is expected to release soon on Stadia and later Steam on PC. While I had never heard of MegaPixel Studio before, I was excited to revisit this classic to check out the revamped graphics, as well as the all-new soundtrack. 

Panzer Dragoon Remake

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: MegaPixel Studio
Publisher: Forever Entertainment
Genre: Arcade, Action
Modes: Single-player
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)



Great memories


Panzer Dragoon was released exactly twenty-five years ago on Sega Saturn, which feels like forever considering how far gaming has come in the time since. While Saturn sold poorly being faced with fierce competition from Sony's PlayStation, a few standout titles really made the console shine. Panzer Dragoon is definitely at the top of this short list considering its industry-leading 3D technology at the time.

Panzer Dragoon expanded on the shooter genre with its on-rails gameplay that offered full 360-degree camera freedom. You could look left, right and behind—something that hadn't been done in this kind of shooter before.



A faithful remake


Panzer Dragoon was sublime on Sega Saturn, even considering the limited capacities of this console compared to today's offerings. The Remake sticks close to what made the original unique with almost untouched gameplay and enemy attack patterns. Compared to modern games, its bestiary is perhaps a little too limited, and its bosses—which wowed us in the original version—are no longer the graphical showcases they once were.

Despite it bearing the "remake" name, this version is much more akin to a remaster, in that not a whole lot has actually changed. The levels are exactly the same, and the controls are as I remember them. Where there has been improvements is the graphics—the new textures look noticeably better than the original, although still below modern standards.

Surprisingly, the remastered soundtrack wasn't available at launch so I was only able to sample the original OST, which still sounds fantastic decades later. The updated soundtrack by Saori Kobayashi is expected to come in a patch arriving later this year.

All in all, this remake is certainly faithful, but perhaps to the point where it's purpose as a remake becomes questionable. Had this game been named Panzer Dragoon Remastered it would have better set fan expectations.



A modern take


One of the major updates of Panzer Dragoon Remake is you can now use the left stick to control your reticle, while the right controls the camera. In the original game, camera shifting was done using the bumper buttons, an options that's also available for purists. It requires a certain amount of time to adjust to the new controls, but ultimately I found them to be an improvement.

Looking at the game's difficulty, at just seven levels that offer a modest challenge, it's perfectly reasonably to be beat the game in just the first hour or two. It's a very short game, one that encourages replay to improve your overall score and completion time. And considering its $24.99 price tag, it's an expensive proposition. However, if you enjoy the original Panzer Dragoon or on-rail shooters there's a lot to enjoy here, provided you're fine with replaying the adventure several times over.



The Verdict


Panzer Dragoon Remake offers a nice overhaul of a Sega Saturn adventure that almost disappeared forever from the gaming landscape. However, let's face it, some good memories are better kept preserved in the past. While I did enjoy this improved port, it's necessary to recognize its concept is from generations ago and its short one-hour lifespan might leave you wanting more. This game is best for retro lovers who want to discover this monumental Saturn game without suffering through the outdated controls of the original.

Final Score: 6.5/10 - Okay

A review code for the game was provided by the publisher.