I know the Panzer Dragoon Remake didn’t launch to the best of receptions on Switch a few months back.
People bemoaned frame-rate issues and the quality of graphics, as well as a lack of anything new in the package.
Forever heard a lot of that feedback and put out a great 1.3 patch recently, adding in a Level 0 as well targeted 60 FPS, super weapon, and gyro / rumble controls.
Good news, people seemed to really appreciate the update and like most of the changes, with some really loving the use of gyro.
Up till this week, PD has been a Switch exclusive, with the game now slowly starting to roll out onto other platforms. Up first, surprisingly, is Google Stadia.
Now, I’ve yet to dip my toe in the waters of Stadia. I’ve heard mixed things and often wondered if my internet was up to the job. I’ve been apprehensive.
But when offered the chance to play one of my all-time favourite franchises and with the 2 month free trial still running, the time to jump in felt right.
I’m not entirely a Stadia convert. I noticed a little bit of input lag on the menus and the resolution sometimes got a little distorted, but the ease of launching and the immediate compatibility with my hardware blew me away.
Now, true, Panzer Dragoon isn’t the most technically challenging game on Stadia – believe me, I’m going to be testing many more – but for my several hours of play, my experience was mostly fluid.
Naturally, the resolution and graphical quality was also higher than that of Switch, so you really got a sense of just how much of a remake this is and it looks great.
Gliding over reflective waters, wincing at the blinding light creeping through the clouds, ducking and weaving in-between crumbling buildings, I felt like a fifteen year old boy back in front of my Saturn again.
It’s not a total overhaul – which, you might feel a game like Panzer Dragoon richly deserves. For instance, the cut-scenes don’t look great, mostly feeling out of place and proportion
Sound also comes across quite tinny and echoey. It sometimes seems at odds with the clear effort made to give the visuals a proper makeover, though there are still some wonderful compositions in here, using a lovely mix of instruments. The game’s score still has some magic, for sure.
As for the game itself, I think it’s a bit of a tricky sell to new players. Veterans will feel completely comfortable diving into this and thrive on the nostalgia, remembering the games that came before it, and the ones it inspired.
Newcomers, though, will probably soon yearn for less restrictions, especially with the game’s movement system which has evolved so dramatically since 1995.
Basically, you’re better of thinking of it as if you’re in charge of the rider rather than the dragon itself, with only slight manoeuvrability. You can only really gently guide the dragon in the direction you’d like to go, but you don’t have total control of its movements. This can certainly present some challenges later on when trying to avoid projectiles.
Rather than fly your dragon around, you have to look to your left, right, and behind to fight enemies at your side or at your back. It’s obviously not as free-roaming as what you’re used to now, but it weirdly feels quite refreshing and unique again now, adding a different kind of dynamism to the action.
But the combination of button tapping and automated shooting has become such a comfortable industry standard now and so still works like a dream. It’s a testament to just how incredibly ahead of its time this game was.
Honestly, Panzer Dragoon just remains the most amazing fun. There’s some spectacular boss fights – though some might argue they take a bit too long to take down – the scenery is quite stunning at times, with great efforts made to improve on features like draw-distance.
Panzer Dragoon Remake is a decent attempt to restore one of gaming’s forgotten classics. At times, the game looks lovely and I personally had so much fun replaying a game I adored as a child.
And, I mean, I wanted to replay the game through from the beginning right after finishing, itching to catch enemies I’d missed and mop up some of the achievements. That’s a feeling I really treasure in this day and age.
I’m sad we haven’t seen more of Panzer Dragoon in recent years. Orta was so good, but that’s coming up on 20 years old now.
It’s another of those excellent SEGA IPs that has been allowed to disappear, but as we’ve seen with Streets of Rage 4, there’s always an opportunity for beloved franchises to make their mark and come back better than ever.
Forever have Panzer Dragoon 2 Remake in the works, so that’s a start at least. I’m looking forward to getting my mitts back on that.
For the most part, though, this was a lovely trip down memory lane. Which feels sort of strange to say when it also served as my introduction to gaming’s new groundbreaking, revolutionary platform in Stadia.
On both counts, I had a great time, and the experience has made me want to play more Stadia games, as well as get higher scores in Panzer Dragoon. Whichever way you look at it, that experience has clicked and combined just marvellously.
Panzer Dragoon Remake is now available on Switch and Stadia Pro.
Tested on Stadia
Code Supplied by Forever