I only have two memories of the Panzer Dragoon series; one being when I played through Panzer Dragoon Orta on the original Xbox about twenty years ago, and the other being when I was able to get ahold of Panzer Dragoon Saga on the Sega Saturn and add it to my collection, when the game was roughly around $300 on ebay. That’s pretty much it though. I don’t even remember much of Orta, and I believe I only booted up Saga once and played it for around 5 minutes to make sure the disc ran.
All that being said, I have a soft spot for the series I never really played, and that’s mostly thanks to my wife who loves dragons. So when the remake of the original Panzer Dragoon game was announced, it was always on my radar. Sadly, when it finally became playable, I heard really bad things about the remake, and also the sticker shock of it being a $20 game was a bit off putting. But, when the game became $6 on a Steam Sale I just had to get it.
For anyone like me, who isn’t familiar with the series, the gameplay is “on rails” meaning you can’t move your character wherever you want, you are on a pre-destined path, and being pushed forward without any input from you. So it’s like being on a track, kinda like Autopia at Disneyland. The main gimmick for Panzer Dragoon is that you are piloting a Dragon that can fire homing attacks at will, and that you have 360 degrees of full shooting. So as your dragon flies forwards, you can shoot forwards, backwards and on both sides of you, all in glorious three dimensions.
Back in 1995, this was really an impressive feat, and it’s the main thing being showcased. As the game itself consists of 6 levels and all take around 5 minutes to complete. So the game itself is finished in one single sitting, and can be completed in less than an hour. Now this feels like a rip off for a full priced game, and while I didn’t own a Saturn back when it launched, I can’t speak to how good of a value the game had; I do know that graphics were a much bigger deal than they are now, and 3D being novel and exciting did carry a lot of weight as well.
The remake feels like an upres of a Saturn game and nothing more, and sadly there are a handful of technical issues with the game that really make a bad first impression. Screen tearing even when Vsync is enabled is truly unforgivable at this point, especially when the game doesn’t have any refresh rate options either. As well as the game popping into the desktop for a brief moment during loading of levels, it really just shows how amateurish this product seems.
While none of the technical issues are that big of a deal, it does make the package feel like a bargain bin game. In addition to the length of the game, a single “Episode 0” which is basically an endless level really does nothing more to add any more value to the package. There is nothing wrong with the game itself, and these sorts of “Remakes” are a welcome addition to gaming in my eyes. As long as they are quick cash grabs, and are remakes of games that were exclusive to lesser praised consoles. No one needs a 40th port of Mario for the newest Nintendo Handheld, but everyone could use a Remake of Panzer Dragoon on a modern console, if for nothing else than to just see what all the ruckus over this series is.