Panzer Dragoon first released way back in 1995 on SEGA’s failed SEGA Saturn as a launch title. While the game was overall positively received, it failed to reach the sales target SEGA had set for the first entry in the on-rail dragon shooter as Sony was making waves in the gaming world with its then newly released first PlayStation console. A remake was announced way back in December 2018 and here we are two years later. Is Panzer Dragoon Remake worth your hard-earned money?
Set thousands of years after a great war between humans and their biologically engineered weapons, Panzer Dragoon Remake tells the story of Keil Fluge who, while hunting, was attacked by two huge creatures. Fluge is then saved by a blue dragon; after the latter was embroiled with a dangerous black dragon. With the blue dragon’s original rider succumbing to his wounds during the battle, he approaches Fluge and an instant psychic connection is made. From there, they are on the hunt of the Black Dragon before he reaches the Tower.
Panzer Dragoon Remake is an on-rail shmup (shoot’em up) where you navigate levels and taking down every enemy on your path. On-rail means you are limited with movements; while you can obviously dodge enemies and their projectiles, it’s a limited movement window and you move forward automatically. The game also has a single shooting mechanic, so it’s pretty simple, straightforward and easy to pick up.
The game features a bevy of enemies and trust me at times, you’ll feel overwhelmed. While your movement is limited to a narrow movement window, you can switch the camera to go left, right and behind so you can take out incoming enemies seen on the HUD’s mini-map. The problem, however, is that in any other view except from straight forward, it becomes difficult to dodge projectiles as you don’t see yourself so it’s kinda hard seeing your position compared to the incoming projectiles.
One thing I definitely found odd is that levels are harder to survive than boss battles. Unless you replay the game over and over in order to remember every spawning enemies, later levels will pummel you with enemies and projectiles; sometimes you’ll see the projectile a fraction of a second before damage is done. If you survive the level, you’ll reach a fairly easy boss fight. Their patterns are easy to figure out and dodge.
If you manage to go through the game, which can take about an hour, you’ll be given a code to use at the menu screen which will allow you to unlock a few secrets such as Pandora’s box. The “box” allows you to tweak some of the game’s mechanics and select which level to start at or enable God Mode. It’s actually a neat inclusion, but given the game’s archaic and shallow gameplay, there’s no reason to play it more than once unless you’re a die-hard fan of the series or achievement hunting.
While this is a remake, it shows that the development team only focused on the game’s visuals as the game’s gameplay is still as archaic as it was in 1995. Players use a single button to shoot (A or B), but the game lacks an auto-fire feature (holding down the fire button so it shoots continuously) meaning that you’ll have to button mash your way through it and given the number of enemies on screen sometimes, your buttons will get a workout. After a play session chances are your hand will hurt.
Panzer Dragoon Remake’s fresh new paint of HD coat makes it stand out. Every level has its own unique flair and design/visuals vary from highly bright colorful forests to darker, drab corridors. The difference between the remake and original is like night and day; definitely one of the better-looking games in this in-between gens. The biggest hiccup here is the overly long loading times when waiting for a level to load. Additionally, the font used is reminiscent of those un-readable fonts black metal bands use to make sure their band names are undecipherable. The soundtrack is definitely interesting with its mix of some orchestral bit to more electronic-y scores. Far from the soundtrack of the year, it does the job well and keeps you focused.
Panzer Dragoon Remake is definitely an interesting and fun on-rail shooter. The game looks and plays great but, unfortunately, given the game’s length, lack of gameplay depths, it’s difficult to recommend this game, especially with a $25(USD) price tag. Unless you’re a die-hard fan of the Panzer Dragoon series or looking for a vastly different shump, I’d recommend waiting for a sale on this one.
- Easy to pick up and play
- Great visual upgrade
- Shallow gameplay
- Surprisingly short