Early Panzer Dragoon Remake Switch impressions

While we knew the release date for the Panzer Dragoon Remake was sometime in Spring 2020, we didn’t know when exactly. Thankfully, the game was shadow dropped today, during the Nintendo Direct Mini and I had to do a double-take when I heard the game was out today. Me, being a fan of all of the Panzer Dragoon games, and the Sega Saturn. So I did what any self-respecting fan of the series would do and picked up the game. What’s one more to add to my growing Switch collection, right?

But was it still the Panzer Dragoon I grew up with, or another disappointment like Crimson Dragon on the Xbox One was? I figured, I’d find out one way or another, once the download finished.

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So far the game has made my inner-child very happy, as this it’s faithful to the original Panzer Dragoon release. Visually, this remake is a huge step up from the original game, no argument there. The music, the controls which are still clunky and the overall feel of the game are still very much intact. For purists, everything that made the game popular back during the Sega Saturn days is still there.

Gameplay-wise, there’s not much to this simplistic but enjoyable title. You take control of a mystic dragon who has the ability to single fire at targets or by holding down the fire button, you can perform a charge attack that locks on to several enemies. An attack that you’ll use most of the time unless you need to take down projectiles that are coming at you. You also can control the dragon, albeit limited as this is a rail shooter. The most you can do is move around the screen while the game takes you from one destination to the next.

There’s also something new in the way a modern control scheme that takes advantage of the Switch Joy-Cons and Switch Pro controller triggers, Though you aren’t able to remap any of the buttons, which was frustrating. Outside of that, you’re able to mute the soundtrack (but why??), toggle certain sound effects, and change the language.

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There’s also a photo mode, that might have been announced previously, but I missed it. Which was unexpected as I didn’t think a photo mode would benefit the game at all. However, after playing with for a while, it’s a nice addition. There are several filters to play with, and you can remove the UI to save images directly to the Switch.

Panzer Dragon Remake Switch Impressions - Photo Mode

The game also tracks your progress in terms of your performance, number of times you played the game and what level of difficulty that you’ve used.

I do have a few concerns with the game, that being the controls and the loading times. Upon entering a stage, it takes between 18 – 20 seconds for it to load up or restarting. Though I do have the game installed on a microSD card, so hopefully moving it internally helps with the loading speed. While the controls feel sluggish.  Aiming with the analog stick is noticeably laggy, as is when you use the bumpers to rotate the screen which allows you to see 360 degrees. You do get used to it, but it does make shooting down enemies and projectiles more of a nuisance than it should be. I don’t remember this being how the original game was, but since I don’t own a copy of it anymore, I can’t verify. However, I do have a copy of Panzer Dragoon Orta, which includes the original game so I’ll give that a spin and report back. Hopefully, both of these issues will be addressed in an upcoming patch that was already announced.

Update: Gyro controls are also coming to the game after the initial patch is released as well.

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Forever Entertainment has already stated a patch will be released for the game, which will add several updates. Including a toggle to switch the in-game music from between the classic tunes and a remade soundtrack. There are a few other changes that weren’t mentioned in this tweet, so I’ve reached out to Forever Entertainment to see if they can provide some details on that.

I’m glad to see this game finally being released, as there are a number of gamers who weren’t around when the Sega Saturn was out are now being exposed to history. While Star Fox has been known for its rail shooting with 3D objects, many weren’t aware that Panzer Dragoon also did it. In my honest opinion, it a bit better. especially in the later game, Panzer Dragoon II. Speaking on Zwei, I’m fully looking forward to that title as it does everything the first game does, but so much better.

I honestly never thought I’d be excited to play this game again. But here we are 25+ years later and I can’t put the controller down. 

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Panzer Dragon Remake Switch Impressions -04

That said, don’t go into this expecting gameplay from a modern age game, because it isn’t. The game isn’t very long either, depending on well you play, it will be over just as soon as you start.  At the core, this is a dated rails shooter with fantastic music, gameplay mechanics that are simplistic and nothing more. A nod to the past games and successor to more ambitious ones that we’ve played throughout our gaming lives. This works for me, as this remake has allowed me to relive a time of my gaming life that I thought was lost to time (and the Sega Saturn).

Panzer Dragoon Remake is currently available for the Nintendo Switch and is priced at $24.99. The game is also releasing on PC (Steam) this Winter 2020. For now, the game is exclusive to the Nintendo Switch.

About The Author

Keith Mitchell
Editor-in-chief and all-around good guy!

Keith Mitchell is the Founder and Editor in Chief of The Outerhaven. A grizzled IT professional during the day, but a passionate lover of video games after his 9-5 grind. Loves playing the Dark Souls series and has been gaming since he was 6 years old. Yes, I am a black gaming journalist.