Does anyone remember the Sega Saturn? No, just me then. I loved my Sega Saturn when I was a lad and one game I remember very fondly was Panzer Dragoon. I remember the bold colours, the simple yet addictive gameplay and I remember the strange mix of fantasy and technology the game delivered.
The original Panzer Dragoon was first released in 1995 and I adored it. Along with Daytona, Nights and Decathlete, these four games got a lot of screen time in my household. I did not have many games for my Saturn but these games really stood out, along with a handful of obscure RPGs and weird shooters.
Fast forward 25 years and we have a Panzer Dragoon re-release for the Nintendo Switch in the form of Panzer Dragoon: Remake. This re-release is touted as being true to the original gameplay-wise but with improved visuals and controls. I wonder how this classic title fairs against modern games? I wonder how my memories of this game will hold up? Read on to find out.
For players who have not played Panzer Dragoon, you ride on top of a magnificent blue dragon. You must stop another dragon, not too dissimilar to yours, reaching the tower any way you can. You and your armoured dragon must fight an evil empire in a post-apocalyptic world while shooting down an all manner of tech-drenched beasties.
As the description states, the gameplay, from my vague memories, remains unchanged. It was a long time ago and I have played thousands of games since, so some things may be a bit hazy. You move your dragon with your left stick and your reticle with your right, you must then shoot any enemies coming into view of your flying death machine.
Foes do not just come from in front of you either, you must use the shoulder buttons to rotate your view around you and take out any enemies in view. This paired with a charged homing shot adds just enough to the gameplay to make the 7 short chapters enjoyable and different enough from each other.
I say this because I don't know if I am remembering this game with rose-tinted glasses but Panzer Dragoon seems very short and very simple, shorter and simpler than I remember. I know times were different back then but I am sure there was more to it than this. Don't get me wrong, I had fun over the couple of hours it took to beat Panzer Dragoon, I just thought there was more meat on those video game bones.
I would have liked some new features, new stages or something fresh to sink my teeth into but from what I can remember the game is identical other than the controls and graphics. I suppose the purists among us will revel in these facts and that, I can certainly understand. Some players will want Panzer Dragoon in the same state as when they initially fell in love with it and that is definitely what they got.
Graphically the game is good and I got some nice screenshots, included in this review, using the games inbuilt photo mode. The sound design feels a bit dated by today's standards but again, it represents the era the game was released and I am fine with that. I think the more you improve things the further you get from the starting point that fans enjoyed all those years ago.
Panzer Dragoon performed well, I had zero issues whatsoever and was left to just enjoy my short trip down memory lane. It ran well, had a decent framerate and it did not suffer from any technical hitches at all. I don't think it pushes the Switch anywhere near its limits but it is nice for it to run proficiently all the same.