(available for Nitendo Switch only for now)
(PC, Xbox One and Google Stadia versions are currently being developed)
During the Nintendo direct at E3 which was June last year a trailer was played showing a full remake for the Sega Saturn game Panzer Dragoon. For younger readers that don’t remember the Saturn it was Sega’s console between the Mega Drive/Genesis and the Dreamcast that Sega botched by releasing it months early as a surprise at E3 1995 and to beat the PlayStation 1 to release which annoyed almost every electronics retailers so some didn’t carry it and it didn’t have many good games which weren’t also on the PlayStation 1 and it also didn’t have an original Sonic game for it so as a result of all that no one really cared about it and that’s why you’ve never heard of it. Now I never owned a Saturn but even I’m aware through pop culture osmosis that Panzer Dragoon was one of the few bright spots on the Saturn so was keen to give it a go and was happy to see it was a stealth release on the march mini direct. Panzer Dragoon has a story but it’s very inconsequential so to summarise you play as a dragon rider in a war fighting of enemies in Arial battles in an on rail shooter with enemies on all sides. The game is essentially an arcade style game which I think suits the pick up and play style of the switch but I’m noticing that there’s a reason these kinds of games don’t get made as often and I think I know why. Games like this that rely on trying to get as high a score as possible really relies on being short but repayable experiences which Panzer Dragoon and many games like it don’t really have. In fact I was really surprised by the level length of the various levels but I’ll save that for the cons section. I also surprised that that there’s very little new content and most of what was promised like gyro controls were not in the game at launch and 2 months down the line they haven’t been patched in as promised. This also was extremely surprised that either this game doesn’t have an auto save or my save file got deleted in an update.
- I love the 360 degrees camera gameplay: the gameplay is still really good and is still kind of unique I found myself really thinking about how would tackle individual challenges. I got used to having to move the camera to attack enemies on all sides pretty quickly though I wish I got a chance to use the gyro controls for this one since the Switch is normally quite good for that
- It’s short but doesn’t outstay it’s welcome: not including deaths you can probably beat Panzer Dragoon in about 3 hours but for the type of game it is
- Graphics: while it’s a really excellent update to the Saturn’s graphics I don’t think it’s as good as the trailers made it look and while I’m not great at telling how many frame rates a game has I have it on reliable information that the trailer had the game was 60 fps and the game released with 30 fps and looking back on the trailer before writing this it has become noticeable.
- Inverted controls are not the default: I don’t like inverted controls, probably something to do with my dyspraxia but I’m not a fan of inverted controls so to see them not be the default was a treat for me. However it would be obtuse not to point out that
- Level length: it’s a weird cognitive dissonance that a game that’s so short has almost every level outstay it’s welcome. It feel like all 6 levels go on for about 2-5 minutes too long and it really made me tire of them before they were over and it also ruins the replay value.
- Too many features missing still missing almost 2 months after release: I know I shouldn’t be complaining during a pandemic that the gyro controls and remastered soundtrack are not in the game but they were both advertised and it gives off the impression that the game was rushed to launch. The former of which is probably going to be a switch only feature so my opinion of it wasn’t going to apply to the PC and Xbox one versions (didn’t mention Stadia because if google hasn’t killed that by the end of the year I’ll be very surprised) but it doesn’t change the fact that the game looks like it was largely designed for this feature so I would’ve like to have given it a go.
- I hate the lock on mechanic: it’s way too slow, most time I lock on to an enemy I have to fire immediately to avoid being hit or I would be hit in the process. I found it was safer and more successful to blindly fire towards the enemy rather than lock on to multiple enemies most of the time. And this isn’t me being bad at the game I’ve seen multiple reviews complain about the speed of the lock on.
I wish this game was better but they updated the first entry in a series that I’ve been told gets better with later entries and have missing features at release it seems like it’s a more average product of a rushed development which makes me happy to know that sega have already confirmed a remake of the sequel in devlopment.
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