Panzer Dragoon Orta was recently re-released on Xbox One via backward compatibility and as a downloadable “Xbox Original”. That’s great! A new whole new set of gamers will be able to appreciate the most technically advanced Panzer Dragoon game for the first time, and previous fans will be able to relive the game in high definition. Furthermore, the original Panzer Dragoon is included as an unlockable title.
Half of the mainline Panzer Dragoon series is now available on a modern piece of hardware.
Re-releasing the other two Panzer Dragoon games is going to be considerably harder, and if we’re being honest, unlikely to happen. Technically, there are a lot of blockers compared to re-releasing a Megadrive, Dreamcast, or Xbox game. But assuming it did happen, are these games that a modern gamer would necessarily understand or appreciate? A lot has changed since the 90s, an era that was highly experimental when it came to figuring out how to make a 3D game. The graphical capability of consoles improve immensely between the Saturn and original Xbox (compared to today, where an Xbox 360 or PS3 game can still be very easy on the eyes, especially if the resolution is bumped up). But even putting aside graphics, the systems of those early games became a lot more fluid in Orta. Zwei was relatively straight forward shooter, and even though it remains my favourite Panzer shooter, there wasn’t a lot to it when it came to systems. Saga has a lot going for it, and even though I’d argue it was ahead of it’s time, feels very much like a 90s game - long, non-interactive FMV sequences for story telling, random encounters, turn based combat. These are generally no-nos to a modern audience that expects more control and freedom than was present in earlier titles.
So my thought is, although seeing Zwei and Saga re-released is something that I’d very much like to see happen, perhaps it is too late for most gamers to really appreciate these games. If these games came out and no one really cared besides the old fans, how much better off would we be? It might be better to push for a remake, reboot, or some other kind of successor instead. We always have Saturn emulators to play these titles on; Saturn emulation isn’t too bad these days, although it could always improve. Gamers can be introduced to the series via Orta, and – if they care enough – they can hunt down other ways of playing the older games.
It will be interesting to see how well the older Shenmue games hold up when re-released. But even these games ran on considerably more powerful hardware than the Saturn.