Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Panzer Dragoon Remake (PS4, Switch, 2019)

Here we've got a beloved Sega Saturn game that got a remaster in 2019. It's barely an hour long, costs $25, and is digital-only... so it's $25 that one will never get back for one hour of gameplay. That's kind of rough. Hopefully it leads to bigger things (Panzer Dragoon Saga Remastered).

I didn't really know what to expect with this game, having never played anything from this series, so it was all new to me.

We start with a text into about how this takes place well after the fall of an ancient civilization. Cyber-genetic warfare, huh? Is this the Metal Gear Solid universe?

You play as this guy who rides a dragon around (hence Dragoon). The pilot can shoot lasers, and the game itself controls a lot like Star Fox.

The intro ends with a shot of a Bioshock-like ocean tower, which is also the site of the game's final battle. Paladin's Quest did the same thing, where the end of the intro shows you a quick glimpse of the final boss in his room.

The title screen is noteworthy because it shows a dragon fossil, indicating that the story has a lot to do with the world's history. Lot of potential here that the game doesn't scratch the surface of.

That's a lotta languages! You've got English, Italian, Polish, French, Chinese, Russian, German, Spanish, and Japanese.

There's a stats screen with all kinds of info on it. Apparently there's a trophy for getting to 100 hours played, but I haven't been able to get it to go past 33 hours. Leaving it on the title screen worked for a while, until it didn't. Not sure what the deal is. I might try to plat this, so if this dumb "100 hours played" trophy keeps me from getting said plat, I'll...well, I'll frown sternly.

Here we go, excited to play a Sega Saturn game remade. This is more like Star Fox 64 than the original, with the targeting ring and lock-on charged shots. This also pre-dates Star Fox 64.

The first stage, a ruined city, is a pretty memorable one. Besides Star Fox 64, another thing that this may have inspired is the original Drakengard for the PS2. One thing is for sure, this game is a trend-setter.

For the most part you can get by with dodging and weaving and using lock-on shots to take out foes. However some times you have to spin the camera to get enemies that aren't in front.

These imperial battleships are recurring bosses and minibosses throughout the game's short runtime. Given how incredibly brief the game is, I was hoping for more variety of bosses.

Here's an example of switching the camera to side-view to blast the boss with laser beams.

This dragon is more like a wyvern, come to think of it. The distinctive head-spear is easily the most memorable thing about it.

Looks like this whole game is you versus this evil empire. It feels like there's a LOT more story to be told by this world, which I guess is where the sequels will come in.

The next level is Dune, complete with giant sand-creatures.

A look at the charged homing lasers. There are trophies for finishing these levels with higher-than-70% hit rates, and the best way to do that is to stick to the homing lasers.

Another imperial attack craft. Are these things made out of stone?

Things get a bit more hectic as the game goes on, with lots of artillery firing your way.

It looks like we're crossing the Badlands to reach the Dark Portal.

This imperial craft is a little different from the others. It feels like a real boss, with multiple forms. Very Star Fox esque too. Kinda feels like this got some inspiration from the first Fox game and then Fox 64 got inspiration from this.

In interior areas, the blue lasers really illuminate your surroundings. It's awesome.

Whoa, is that Un'Goro Crater? World of Warcraft Classic, so hot right now.

Gotta say, the visuals in this game are absolutely stunning.

Yet another imperial attack craft! They sort of resemble Triple H's nose. He may be a 14 time world champion, but the King of Kings has a sizable honker.

The 6th stage is basically Venom from Star Fox, a dismal industrialized red planet.

The visuals continue to be stunning and atmospheric, even when the settings are dismal. They really did a great job with this remake. Question is, how well will they do with the following, more expansive games in the series?

The final boss lurks around this...glowing flower thing in the depths of the imperial zone. The game is nice enough to separate the final boss into its own Stage 7 rather than having it be at the end of Stage 6.

Said final boss is a bigger, nastier dragon-rider, basically the Dreadnought version of your character.

Win, and your hero makes his escape. For a while I thought the lasers you fire were from the dragon's mouth or something. Nope, the rider has a laser gun.

After the escape, your hero washes up on a shore nearby.

Wait, where's the dragon?

Soon after, the game just kinda ends.

I like the dragon design, but what would really be cool is if you had multiple dragons to choose from. Hopefully that's a thing in later installments.

You get a Not-Konami-Code for beating the game, and it unlocks some cool stuff like godmode.

Whoa, is this a confirmation that we're getting more remakes of this series?

After that, it was off to collect trophies. This is one of the easier plats out there, and some of the trophies are fun. Leeroy Jenkins involves flying through a level without actually firing at anything.

The most challenging one is probably Goliath (beat the game on Hard). If all else fails, this can actually be obtained on God Mode.

Actually I take that back, the most challenging one is Lifeless. As I mentioned before, this one requires you to play the game for ONE HUNDRED HOURS.'s a 40 minute game. Also, cheats disable this one (unlike the previous one, weirdly enough) so you can't just put on invincibility and let the game run.

However, there's a trick to this. Restart the game (to clear out any codes that may or may not be running), then leave it on the title screen and turn the TV off. This actually accumulates played time. The issue I ran into before is, your time isn't "banked" (aka it doesn't count) until you start a new game and quit out. Lot of folks left it idling at the title screen only to have their time "reset" the next time they played, and this is why. Once you know all of this, it's a simple trophy to get.

That said, asking people to leave a system on for 100 hours in this day and age of people being more environmentally-conscious (and more conscious of their electric bills), as well as wear and tear on your system... well, maybe none of the above make that much of an impact if only a few people do it, but it's still mind-numbingly stupid to have a trophy like this in a 40 minute long game. Changing it to 10 hours (at the MOST) would be a good thing to patch in, but this game has been out for many months with no changes.

For my part, I got this gradually over a few months by doing a few replays of the game to get extra screenshots for this post, and usually doing the title screen trick as well.

That wasn't even the last trophy I got. The last one was this trophy for finishing level 2 (or maybe 3) with a high hit ratio (easily accomplished with homing lasers). Scissor me timbers!

Annnnd that's it. You kind of HAVE to get a platinum in this game, because it's the only way you're going to get your money's worth out of it. At a 40 minute runtime, $25 was waaaay too much of an ask, especially for a digital-only game. Paid the same amount for digital-only SaGa Frontier Remastered and got like 45 hours out of that.

Final thoughts: I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what the next 2-3 games (whatever they end up remaking) have to offer. This is a pretty rad game, no doubt about it, and feels like Sega's answer to Star Fox as I mentioned before. However, the cost is pretty steep, especially for a digital game. It feels more like a demo of the full game than the actual full game. It can be beaten in 45 minutes on a first go, and it isn't like there's too much else to do after that. Trophy-hunting can be fun, and extends the game to...four hours or so, at the most. It just gives you the sense that there's supposed to be a lot more here... and there isn't.

Final note, here's the end-boss fight. Easily the toughest fight in the game and I underperformed a bit here. Somehow didn't suffer a single death in my 45 minute first plowing of the game.

Bring on the next one, regardless.

1 comment:

  1. Price and length aside, what a remarkable game. I'd like to play this version too.