Panzer Dragoon Remake Nintendo Switch review: taking flight again

Back in the 90s, Sega fumbled things up really good with its Sega Saturn, launching it several months too early and throwing both retailers and developers off guard. As a result, it never stood a chance against the mighty PlayStation. That said, it did have its perks, and among them was the unique shooter Panzer Dragoon. It easily earned its place in video gaming history, and also inspired several sequels, including the notable RPG Panzer Dragoon Saga, one of the most sought after games on the market these days.

Now, after last year’s surprise announcement, Panzer Dragoon Remake has come to the Nintendo Switch, bringing most of the game’s glory back with it. It does have a few issues when it comes to controls, and its journey is far more satisfying than its destination. But for anyone that’s up for a little gaming nostalgia while being stuck inside their house (with Coronavirus and all), it should do you a world of good.

Panzer Dragoon Remake is a fine-looking beast.

The game has your character, a loner looking to fight against a dangerous enemy, teaming up with a vast dragon, shooting their way through a number of stages. The story itself is a bit on the cryptic side but ties in with the overall majesty of the game’s design. It’s totally unique and remains that way even after 25 years on the market.

As for the shooting action, it’s simple to grasp. You can either fire single shots at enemies and projectiles that come your way, or you can use a lock-on system to hit multiple foes at once. Both are effective, but Forever Entertainment didn’t quite port over the game’s controls so beautifully.

That’s because it can take a bit to get used to the targeting reticule, which isn’t as accurate as it used to be. Also, turning can take a little bit, which can make a difference when you’re trying to keep a consistently moving boss enemy within your sights. However, it’s still got the spirit of the original, and after you take a little bit of getting used to, you’ll find the game somewhat fairly easy to grasp. Here’s hoping that Forever finds a way to patch it a little bit, though, so it’s not so difficult for newcomers. (The team is already hard at work on updates for the game, including a beautiful musical score by Saori Kobayashi.)

Once you get over the control issue, you can enjoy the rest of what the game has to offer. Which, thankfully, is quite a bit. Forever Entertainment did a great job with Panzer Dragoon’s visual remastering. While it’s not quite perfect (some larger items have a weird fade-in effect that you’d think would’ve been fixed), it’s still a great looking game, both for on-the-go play and at home. 

Also, the music score has been faithfully lifted from the original Saturn game. While I can’t wait to hear Kobayashi’s take on the soundtrack, it’s still excellent music, and ties in with the game’s overall design. The sound effects are good as well, complete with screeching dragons and gibberish-style speak that fits the nature of the game.

Another example of Panzer’s fine visuals.

It’s clear that we’ve seen better remasters in the past that have followed the core layouts of the game right down to a tee, and the lack of refined controls hold Panzer Dragoon back from true greatness. But the fact we’re getting this game back at all is a feat in itself, and it sounds like Forever Entertainment wouldn’t mind tackling future chapters for digital re-release – possibly even Saga. So this first chapter is worth embracing and shows that there’s a lot of promise in bringing these games back into the spotlight. It’s well worth a look if you’re up for a retro-themed adventure – or just don’t feel like dragging the Sega Saturn out of storage just yet. (Though you probably should have anyway if you managed to get a hold of a copy of Saga…)

RATING: 7.5/10

A slightly flawed but still beautiful remake of a Sega Saturn favorite.

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