Sega's phenomenal Sega Saturn on-rails shooter has been delighting gamers for 25 years and now, you can enjoy the action on Switch.
Whether you enjoy the genre or not, there's no denying that Panzer Dragoon is a top-notch classic on-rails shooter that truly elevated at-home arcade experiences back in the day. In fact, I included it in my Top 10 Games of 1995 list and it even ranked at number 4. Considering many classic games from that time were 2D platformers and RPGs, Panzer Dragoon holds up impressively well with its 3D gameplay. Thankfully, this remake is extremely faithful to the original. On the plus side, fans will have a very familiar experience but unfortunately, it's also an easy game for fans to nitpick. Meanwhile, newcomers will find an enjoyable and challenging shooter although it does feel rather dated and lacks features that modern gamers have come to expect, especially from remakes of classic games.
Panzer Dragoon is played by dragging a target around the screen in order to aim your regular shot or lock-on to enemies so you can fire homing lasers at them by holding the shoot button down then letting go when you're ready to deploy your attack. This may sound simple but you have to keep in mind that as you move the aiming reticule, your dragon moves as well so the challenge relies on your ability to shoot enemies down efficiently while dodging incoming attacks. It's a lot trickier than it sounds but overcoming the challenge is supremely rewarding. Another gameplay wrinkle is that the action occurs all around you so you have to regularly rotate the camera 90° in order to shoot down enemies that appear on your radar. Overall, it's a formula that both delights and challenges.
Panzer Dragoon: Remake's stages look great and each of them is quite memorable. You'll also encounter a handful of epic boss fights throughout the campaign and taking them down is rewarding stuff, especially if you manage to just barely survive which happened to me on multiple occasions. Anyway, although I appreciate this remake's visuals and find that the graphics are a fantastic modernization of the original, the sound effects are more generic and some even sound out of place. It's a weird thing to complain about but they must really stand out for me to notice the difference from the original. With that being said, the orchestral soundtrack is great and provides a wonderful atmosphere for shooting down hulking monsters as you ride on your blue dragon to victory.
Aside from the unsatisfying audio effects, Panzer Dragoon: Remake has a few other notable downsides. First, rotating the camera is extremely delayed. Even after applying the new update that released today, tapping the shoulder buttons still makes the camera rotate after a slight delay which is not only disorienting; it also causes you to accidentally receive damage from time to time. Next, even though this remake features unlockables that you can achieve after completing the campaign on hard difficulty, it simply doesn't feel like enough. What I find to be the silliest omission is the fact that the original Panzer Dragoon isn't included. Perhaps they couldn't include it due to licensing or something but I wish it was available to play as well as the remade version. That would have been awesome!
Panzer Dragoon: Remake is a solid take on the classic Sega Saturn shooter. Hardcore fans may find that certain aspects changed for the worse while newcomers may be perplexed by its barebones approach yet it's hard not to enjoy your time with this on-rails remake.
- + Tight on-rails shooting with memorable stages and epic boss battles
- + Solid visual overhaul
- + Fantastic orchestral soundtrack
- - Rotating the camera is super-delayed
- - Audio isn't as satisfying as the original
- - I wish it included the original