There weren’t many games that came out on the Saturn that can be called ‘classic’. It’s not exactly a console well known for great titles. However, there are a few that have stood the test of time. The likes of Virtua Fighter, Virtua Cop, Guardian Heroes and the subject of this remake, Panzer Dragoon.
Originally released in 1995, Panzer Dragoon was the first entry in a series that spanned four games in total. The last, Panzer Dragon Orta, was released in 2002 for the original Xbox console.
All the games, baring the Panzer Dragon Saga, follow the same formula and are ‘on-rail’ shooters. Something that feels really restrictive these days but were a highlight back in 1995 as it felt like the arcade was being brought into the home space.
This remake doesn’t change that but comes with an optional new control system for the Nintendo Switch. Where you can aim independently of movement using the second stick. It… works ok. That’s about all the good can be said about the new control system.
Elsewhere, it’s had a graphical overhaul that certainly makes it look shiny and nice. It wouldn’t have been too hard to improve upon 1995 graphics but you can’t help but think something just isn’t quite right. Like draping a cover over a grotty old couch. It’s particularly noticeable when going from cutscene to gameplay.
Talking of which, there’s no overhaul here. It’s a rail shooter where you have just one attack that can be fired rapidly depending on your finger strength or held down to lock on to several targets at once. Release and watch the enemies go boom, most of the time. A few enemies and bosses in particular require a bit more effort, of course.
Those battles, the ones with bosses, are often the best moments in the game as they require quick reactions and fast adaption to the enemies mode of attack. Your rider, on the back of the dragon, can aim in four directions which is controlled with the shoulder buttons. Some enemies (and bosses) will move around, requiring quick turns to avoid taking damage. It often adds a bit more threat to a game that is very easy on easy and punishing on hard.
Should you choose to play it on one of the tougher difficulties, it will certainly extend gameplay as the unfortunate reality is that it’s only about an hour long. There are six levels with a boss at the end of each. Most levels last no more than 5 minutes with only the relevant boss potentially taking longer because of big health bars.
It’s very reminiscent of that arcade feel but is pretty unforgivable when you take into account the asking price for the game. There’s no real replay value either, you’re given a score for taking down as many enemies as possible but that’s it. Completing the game does reward you with a code you can enter at the title screen but this just allows you to make changes to the game should you run through it again. Changes like having ‘god’ mode on or having bosses be easier. Nice enough but hardly a good reason to play back through the game again.
Overall, Panzer Dragon: Remake is perfectly fine if all you want is a visual redo of the original. It would have been nice to see some extra modes thrown in or even some variety in gameplay looked at but that’s not the case. Worth picking up if you see it on sale.
Panzer Dragoon: Remake (Nintendo Switch)
The Final Score - 6.5/10