Panzer Dragoon II Zwei officially getting a remake this year

2020 turned out to be a remarkable year for the Panzer Dragoon franchise, as the original game came back for the first time since its initial debut on the Sega Saturn for a new generation to enjoy. It released on Nintendo Switch back in March before arriving on new platforms, including the Xbox One, PC, PlayStation 4 and Google Stadia. With it, it brought refreshing visuals, a remixed soundtrack by the series’ original composer, and that fun lock-on gameplay we remember so well.

Good news, folks – there’s more where that came from.

While we still have no word on a remake of Panzer Dragoon Saga (yet, anyway), we do know that Forever Entertainment is hard at work on a remake of Panzer Dragoon II Zwei. The company confirmed the news on Twitter, with the development team at MegaPixel Studio behind the conversion. And what’s more, it’ll release this year.

Platforms and a release window weren’t given yet, but the game will likely again hit the Switch, PS4, Xbox One and PC. It could hit Stadia as well, and a version for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X wouldn’t be completely out of the cards.

We’ll let you know as soon as more details on the game surface. In the meantime, enjoy the classic Sega Saturn gameplay below and prepare for a return to greatness! We can’t…Zwei-t?

Taxi Chaos review: For the love of crazy

So…why haven’t we gotten a new Crazy Taxi game from Sega again? It’s literally been one of their most popular franchises since the Dreamcast era, and yet lately, all we’ve really seen is a fun sequel on Xbox (taking place in Las Vegas, no less) and some mobile games. It’s almost like the company is aboard the Yakuza and Persona train and not looking back on the classic franchises that got them here.

Fortunately, we have developers that understand the love of these classics. So the team at Team6 Game Studios actually took Sega’s formula (with their grace and permission, mind you) and ran with it through their own game, Taxi Chaos, which is available for various consoles. And while it’s not quite the same Crazy trip that we remember from the past, it certainly beats nothing – especially if you’ve got to scratch that “make as much money in a short amount of time” itch.

The game takes place in New Yellow City, a variation of New York City, which isn’t far removed from Crazy Taxi formula at all. You choose one of two drivers – Vinny or Cleo – and then hit the streets, picking up passengers and trying to get them to their destination in the fastest time possible. You’ll have an arrow guiding you along the best route, though, with some ingenuity, you might just be able to find some shortcuts.

There are some subtle changes, some good and some bad, with Taxi Chaos. While there are only two drivers – and neither of them are a B.D. Joe type – they do have some personality as they speak to customers while rampaging through the streets. They seem awful calm about it, but it does add a layer of character to the proceedings, instead of the usual “hey, be careful!” dialogue.

But along with that comes the music, and it’s not that great. That’s not to say that it isn’t listenable, because it is. However, compared to the iconic Offspring and Bad Religion songs we’ve been spoiled by over the years, it simply can’t hold a candle. You’re better off muting the music and blaring “All I Want” at top volume. You’ll feel way better.

For an indie title, Taxi Chaos looks great. While the visuals can be a bit fuzzy at times, Team6 Studios does a great job replicating the Crazy Taxi formula on a budget. The streets can be a little barren at times, but the city itself is well represented and gives you tons of room to run around, albeit in a small time frame. The animations are also pretty good, though some customers don’t have running nailed down that well. Ah, well, it’s the taxi antics that count.

As for gameplay, it feels like vintage Crazy Taxi. Handling is done exceptionally well here, particularly with turns and being able to jump over things, thanks to an on-demand jump command that works just as well as it did in Crazy Taxi 2. In fact, you might just shave a few seconds off the clock with a perfectly timed maneuver. Practice makes perfect.

There are also three modes to choose from. Arcade Mode is definitely the go-to, as you’ll feel like you’re putting quarters into a machine to rack up as much cash as you can. Pro Mode is more challenging, as you’ll need to figure out your own route to destinations without the help of a market. And Free Roam is pretty cool, letting you look around and get a better idea of what New Yellow City holds. That’s really about it, with no multiplayer to speak of, but the general Taxi basics are intact.

Overall, Taxi Chaos can’t quite replicate the sheer success of Crazy Taxi, but it comes damn close. The lack of a fundamental soundtrack certainly hurts, and there’s only so much mileage you can get out of a game with minimal characters and barely any unlockables (with forthcoming updates hopefully fixing that). But it’s good fun for the price, and a nice reminder of a Sega era gone by – one we hope the company revisits someday. For now, Team6 does a good enough job to put you back behind the wheel. Now go make some cuhrazy money.

RATING: 7.5/10

There’s No Jet Set Radio Sequel, But There Is Bomb Rush Cyberfunk

It seems that these days, we’re getting more spiritual successors than we are sequels from Sega. Instead of Crazy Taxi 4, we have Taxi Chaos, which just dropped this week. And now, while we patiently await any kind of sign that Jet Set Radio is still alive, a developer has taken matters into their own hands with their own formula, Bomb Rush Cyberfunk.

The game comes from the developers at Team Reptile, and is set to debut on “all relevant platforms” starting in 2022. A trailer for the project finally dropped, and we’ll be damned if this doesn’t look like the long-awaited return to Jet Set that we’ve been longing for. The game features some interesting visuals alongside the likes of classic Sega games, as well as some neat new gameplay tricks.

Per the game’s Steam page, Cyberfunk’s description is as follows:

“1 second per second of highly advanced funkstyle. In a world from the mind of Dion Koster, where self-styled crews are equipped with personal boostpacks, new heights of graffiti are reached. Start your own cypher and dance, paint, trick, face off with the cops and stake your claim to the extrusions and cavities of a sprawling metropolis in an alternate future set to the musical brainwaves of Hideki Naganuma.”

The team also listed a number of “facts” surrounding the game.

  • In the game you can choose a character from your crew and explore the three-dimensional streets freely.
  • The goal is to bomb and get your name up. Every neighbourhood has many spots to find where you can paint graffiti. Once you get enough REP you can challenge the local crew for the territory.
  • Features a unique trick system with grinding, sliding, wallrunning and tricking in the air as well as on the ground.
  • You will encounter a lot of weirdos. (Side note: not the DVS Gaming staff, but who knows.)

Bomb Rush Cyberfunk is taking some time to arrive, but you can enjoy the debut trailer below and imagine what the groove will be like when it arrives!

Sonic the Hedgehog Blu-Ray review: a speedy recovery

When the big-screen foray of Sonic the Hedgehog was announced, most people weren’t happy. It wasn’t a matter of casting or anything like that, but rather the somewhat creepy human-esque design of Sonic himself. But rather than release it to the public and prepare for a lambasting, Paramount Pictures delayed the film and gave him a much more loyal makeover. And boy, did it pay off.

Sonic scored big box-office bucks before COVID-19 put a dash in his speedy hopes and dreams, but now he’s on home video for all to celebrate. And if you’re a fan of the fast little hedgehog, you’ll find that this film is definitely up to…speed? Okay, that may be enough puns.

A Decent Story, Backed By a Fun Jim Carrey

In the film, Sonic (voiced by Jean Ralphio himself, Ben Schwartz) comes to Earth, where he makes friends with a police officer (James Marsden) and begins a cross country journey to recover his helpful rings from San Francisco. Hot on their trail is the nefarious Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey), an evil scientist who wants to harness the power of Sonic’s quills for his very own.

The redesigned Sonic is ready for battle.

It’s a routine story, for the most part, and one built with family comedy in mind. But somehow, it works. That’s mainly due to the charm of the cast. Though he’s no Roger Craig Smith, Schwartz does a terrific job as Sonic, capturing his persona alongside the CG effects.

But this is Carrey’s show. He’s back to his manic self after a few oddball dramatic choices in his career, and he doesn’t disappoint. He plays Robotnik like the full-tilt diva that he is, right down to the bad jokes (“Rock-conaissance!”) and the awesome makeover he gets at the end. It sets everything in place for a potential sequel, which, honestly, I hope we get.

Would the film have worked the same way without the makeover? I’m actually scared to see if that would be the case. But the fact it ended up as it did – and still remains charming and fun – is a miracle. Paramount actually listened to the fans, and it shows in a movie that’ll breeze right by you in about 90 or so minutes. Oh, and you should stick around for the post-credits scene. You’ll love it.

A Strong Presentation, But Lacking Extras

We were sent the typical Blu-Ray/DVD set for the film along with a digital copy. So we couldn’t tell how the 4K transfer went on that disc. However, the Blu-Ray quality is nothing short of excellent. The visual effects shine on the screen; and there’s hardly a grain in sight when it comes to its exquisite transfer. This is definitely one you’ll want to keep an eye on. The audio is great too, particularly if you have a sound system that holds things up. It definitely gets up to that Sonic level.

As for extras, they’re somewhat lacking. What I wouldn’t give to hear Carrey go on for the whole movie as Robotnik, talking about how great he is in the film. Alas, there are some featurettes here, including one where he talks about his villainous character.

There’s also a fun “For the Love of Sonic” piece that talks about the speedy hero in great length. But, surprisingly enough, there’s nothing here about the process in redesigning him from his somewhat oddball original form. That would’ve been a fascinating piece of dive into.

Jim Carrey is terrific as Robotnik. Fight us.

The Deleted Scenes and Gag Reel are pretty fun, and there’s also a music video if you get into “Speed Me Up” for some reason. We didn’t.

A Rapidly Good Time

Sonic the Hedgehog may not be the best video-game-to-film adaptation out there, but it’s a surprisingly stable one, built on some good laughs, goofy moments (really, Olive Garden?!) and top-notch performances from Carrey and Schwartz, among others. If you’re looking for a good piece of summer entertainment, make sure you warp this one right into your library. It’s worth your precious rings.

RATING: 8/10

Sonic the Hedgehog finds his way home in a package filled with summertime fun.

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.

DVS Movie Review: Sonic the Hedgehog

The Sonic the Hedgehog film manages to avoid the pitfalls of failed video game movies by sticking to the source material.

Video game adaptations of movies are a mixed bag; you generally expect it to closely follow the source material. There have been successful video game movies such as Tomb Raider and Detective Pikachu and flops such as Assassin’s Creed and Super Mario Bros. The Super Mario Bros. adaptation was so bad, Bob Hoskins (who played Mario) said that it was not only the worst job he’s ever done but also called it his biggest disappointment and something that he would edit out of his past in a 2007 interview. Knowing the track record of video game films, would Sonic the Hedgehog suffer the same fate as their Nintendo-based plumber rivals?

Most classic Sonic the Hedgehog media is memorable; could the live-action film create new memories?

I enjoyed watching Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog as a kid; the TV show cast Jaleel White as the voice of Sonic (he would also voice Steve Urkel in the successful African-American sitcom Family Matters) and also played Sonic games fervently in my childhood. I even was Sonic for Halloween, so this was sort of a homecoming for me after Sega significantly chucked the franchise down the toilet in the new millennium. After the fall of Sega as a console developer, the company relegated him to terrible video games on the Nintendo Gamecube, Xbox, and Xbox 360, as well as token appearances on other Nintendo consoles.

Sonic the Hedgehog

Thankfully, Paramount Pictures had bought the film rights to the franchise in 2017 and a cast of James Marsden, Ben Schwartz, and 90s comedy superstar Jim Carrey had joined the cast by 2018. The film was scheduled for a November 2019 release, but fans were upset about the Sonic design. The producers listened, and they pushed the film back to a February 14, 2020 release.

Jim Carrey turns in one of his finest performances in years.

The film avoided a major pitfall by sticking to its source material. The trailer prominently featured the Green Hill Zone from the original Sonic the Hedgehog game. While Tom Wachowski (James Marden) provides straight-man relief for Sonic’s (Ben Schwartz) 500-miles-a-minute speech patterns, the real star of the movie was Dr. Ivo Robotnik (Jim Carrey). The United States government begrudgingly employs Dr. Robotnik to investigate Sonic’s appearance, which sets off the events of the film.

Sonic the Hedgehog Dr. Robotnik

His performance during the movie reminded me a lot of the Jim Carrey of old, who made audiences double over in movies such as Ace Ventura and Liar Liar, harkening back to his roots in physical and slapstick comedy and doing what he does best: playing over-the-top, exaggerated characters. I would go as far as to say that Carrey enhanced the role of Dr. Robotnik, who portrayed a cartoon villain in the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog series. Carrey used his experience as someone who portrayed those over-the-top and exaggerated characters and seamlessly placed it into the Dr. Robotnik character like he never missed a beat.

Although Sonic made way too many pop culture references during the film, his performance brings together the Sonic fans of old (such as myself) and younger audiences who may have never heard of him or heard about him from their parents. The film rides the wave of 90s nostalgia and revivals that have been a part of Hollywood for the past five or so years and surfs it almost perfectly from start to finish. The synchronization of the live-action and cartoon elements of the film cannot be ignored either. We hope this kicks off a long string of live-action Sonic movies, as this may be the blueprint that video game movies need to succeed.

Grade: A