For over a year, we’ve been anticipating each bit of word, footage, and image of MegaPixel, Forever Entertainment, TA Publishing, and SEGA’s from the ground up remake of Panzer Dragoon. For those unfamiliar, Panzer Dragoon was an early SEGA Saturn title that gained acclaim for its unique setting, shake-ups in the rail shooter genre, and challenging gameplay. It spawned two more rail shooter sequels and a full role-playing game before being put to rest with the series finale, Panzer Dragoon Orta for the Xbox. For the nearly two decades since, fans have wanted to return to that science fiction fantasy world and see the series brought back with as much aplomb as possible.
Then, at the end of 2018, it was revealed that a little-known French-based publishing company and development house MegaPixel Studio were set to release remakes of Panzer Dragoon, and its sequel, Panzer Dragoon Zwei. Since then, we’ve seen art, we’ve seen gameplay, we’ve seen its due arrival on Switch and Steam, but we still had burning questions. To sate our (and especially my) own curiosity, I reached out to Benjamin Anseaume, producer on the remake project, to ask him several things. Learn about extra game content, the process of getting the game into the developer’s hands, and even get a glimpse at what the original creator of Panzer Dragoon, Yukio Futatsugi, thinks of the new project!
All this and more, after the jump!
(Full disclosure, parts of this interview have been edited at Benjamin’s request to fix wonky English. The content is the same as the original e-mail interview.)
Q: How long currently is the game estimated to be? Longer than the original?
A: We are doing a real remake, 1 to 1 in terms of content; levels, enemies, bosses, so you can expect around the same length for the game. On the other hand, we are adding bonuses, and they will add additional hours of gameplay for those who want to expand the experience.
Q: What’s the main thought process for redesigning and updating the classic art and game assets? Are you referencing old art materials or going with a new style entirely?
We had the chance to check a lot of original resources, including story content, concept arts, backgrounds, characters…it was extremely precious for us and important in the process of recreating the game.
But we also had two extremely great helps: first is SEGA, aside from approving our work, they have people in the company who perfectly know the game, its story, and its universe. They are extremely picky when we deliver a build of the game, to check if it respects the vision of the original creators. For us, it’s essential assistance.
Speaking about the original team, we also had the chance to show the game to members of the original team, and get their opinions, including about the story and the universe. We worked hard to gather all this feedback to ensure that we respect the incredible lore of the series.
Q: How is the music being handled? Are there any plans to remix or re-orchestrate tracks?
It’s hard for me to talk about the music because I can’t say a lot. For us, the music is a major part of the game, and we worked extremely hard to ensure that the player will like the music in the game, we really know how important it is. I can’t wait to tell you all more, but the time has not come yet!
Q: Can you tell us the process for getting this project into MegaPixel Studios and Forever Entertainment’s hands? Was it a result of SEGA approaching you, or you pitching SEGA?
We pitched SEGA some time ago. We, as a group, I mean Forever, Megapixel and TA Publishing, which are all connected, had the chance to work on existing IPs previously; Fear Effect (Square Enix), Wizardry (Taito…), and we really wanted to work on Panzer Dragoon, as we really thought the game deserved a remake to “relaunch” the IP. So we made the pitch and we had the chance to show it to SEGA. After some discussions, we had in our hand the scope of the project, and the authorization from SEGA. We were extremely excited.
Q: Can we expect the return of Pandora’s Box, or other similar unlockables like an art gallery?
Hmmm, it’s hard to reply. Not really in the form of the “Pandora Box” you had in Panzer Dragoon II, but there will be some enhancement of the game after you complete it for the first time.
Q: Are there planned to be any extra features? Score attacks, challenge modes, things of that nature?
We plan to add several improvements to the game, and new modes, I can tell you that we are thinking about adding a photo mode, for example. The Panzer Dragoon world is so beautiful, we want to offer the player the possibility to create their own pictures. This idea was submitted by the community and we loved it, so we are excited to implement it.
There may be some other surprises though!
Q: Will the original SEGA Saturn or PC version of Panzer Dragoon be included with the remake, as some kind of bonus ala Panzer Dragoon Orta?
It’s not planned, and it would require a huge amount of work, developing a great “new-old school” experience is already a big challenge and the whole team at Megapixel is focused on our remake. Adding the original game would be extremely difficult at the cost of the remade experience, so we never thought about this, to be honest.
Q: Has anyone on the original team been contacted or consulted with on the remake?
Absolutely, we had the privilege to meet several members of the original team including Futatsugi-san and Yoshida-san, we played the game with them and wrote down their feedback with extreme concentration, as you can imagine!
The Panzer Dragoon Remake is planned for release this Winter for Nintendo Switch and Steam.