While the Epic exclusivity deal is no doubt a disaster, I’m surprised to see generally positive receptions from the people who played Shenmue 3 at E3. I was honestly expecting a broken, unfinished game at this point, so it’s actually looking better than I had expected.
As for being unsure Grounding Inc has what it takes: they have key members from Team Andromeda, and Futatsugi still has close connections to SEGA of Japan and other SEGA icons like Tetsuya Mizuguchi (Rez). And they already worked on a rail shooter in the form of Crimson Dragon (which would have turned out to be a better game if it hadn’t been for some unfortunate business decisions from Microsoft). Who could possibly claim to be in a better position to remake Panzer Dragoon? Meanwhile, Forever Entertainment is only really know for Fear Effect Sedna, which wasn’t exactly received well. Nobody predicted FE of all companies to get the Panzer Dragoon license, and I think it’s perfectly normal to be wary of how they’re going to handle the Panzer Dragoon franchise, especially without input from the people that actually worked on the original games.
That’s not to say it can’t turn out to be a good thing. Streets of Rage 4 is looking great in my opinion, and barely anyone had heard of the 3 companies making it. But that team is actually making levels and implementing things based on the original design documents of Streets of Rage 2. So far, Forever Entertainment doesn’t seem to have much, if any, access to basic assets (sound effects) or documentation. We don’t know how much they’re interested in the story and the world of Panzer Dragoon, or if they just want to focus on making a good railshooter. I hope they can still do both, but hearing them say that they need to alter the original level design because “players request nice and detailed backgrounds today” is rather worrying. I also found it to be a really odd thing to say when you consider that they reveal the game on the Switch, which is known for games that value artistic direction over graphical prowess. The gameplay trailer was far from achieving a constant 60fps for that matter, so it’s not like they had room to spare for the added details. And there’s the example of Panzer Dragoon Orta’s episode 5, which was somewhat of an homage to the first episode of the original game (possibly even set in the same location). They didn’t add more details even though they could have.
Anyway, long story short, I’m worried about the remakes. We still haven’t seen much, and to their credit the developers seem passionate about what they’re doing and they put a lot of work in already. I don’t want to draw conclusions this early when so much still has to be revealed. And I’m fully aware that the majority of people who’ll play the game won’t care about many of the details that worry me. But we’re relatively close to release already, so I’d rather send constructive feedback now in the hopes that they take it into account during development.
As for the future, if the remakes end up doing well, I’m all for Futatsugi working with them. I do regret that he was sidelined for this project. It’s not like they’re unable to contact him. I kind of still hope they reconsider and get him involved. If I was asked to work on a remake, I’d certainly be looking to ask input from the very people that created the franchise.