Hey Harvey!

Posted on May 16th 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (slackur)
Posted under Switch, Streets of Rage 4, Panzer Dragon Remake

Insert obvious Nintendon't and Genesisn't joke here

The Switch keeps taking my attention.  I play other systems, I really do!  Yes, there are other fantastic games not on the Switch to play right now, such as Persona 5 Royal, Final Fantasy VII Remake, and Doom Eternal.  Our current situation requires a person to sit inside with a lot of free time, and this is a pretty great gaming season to do so!  There are some epic (and incredibly time consuming) titles out right now, but personally I've found myself drawn to the Sega properties on Nintendo's excellent machine.  As a gamer who fondly remembers the "console wars" between Nintendo and Sega, I still shake my head at being able to both write that sentence and mean it.  It didn't even occur to me until this week that most of what I've played lately on my Switch were originally from Sega, but sure enough here we are:

Streets of Rage 4

I'm going to begin with the best, Streets of Rage 4.  This is on other platforms, but the Switch runs just as well as the others and has that lovely portable addition, so that's the one I nabbed.  If you are a fan of the classic series or belt scrollers/beat 'em ups in general, this one is highly recommended .  Pretty much everything clicks; the art, the animation, the homages to the series' history, the unlockable characters, the music, and most importantly the feel and gameplay.  The attention to detail is remarkable; rats scurry about, cans blow about in the wind, neon lights brighten the characters, reflective surface actually reflect, corrupt cops and thugs beat each other if you aren't nearby, flies buzz around garbage and lights, all in a 2D game.    I've played through it a number of times now and I'm still enjoying the novel change-ups in each stage, the excellent pacing, and how fun it is to pick up and play.  It all comes together and really does the franchise justice.  A physical release is on the way if you'd prefer to wait for it, but I'd definitely pick it up.

Panzer Dragoon Remake

I have always been a fanboy of this series.  The first game completely sold me on owning a Saturn, and even after all this time it is still one of my favorite fictional universes.  I'd have probably bought this just to support even the potential of a Saga remake, which happens to be one of my favorite games of all time.  A remake of II: Zwei has already been announced, so here's to hoping!

As for this remake, it didn't start out strong.  Thankfully the 1.3 version patch just released a couple days before this writing and the improvements are significant; everything from the framerate to the movement speed to the feel of the lock-on (pretty important to the game) are all greatly improved from the Switch debut.  It also now has the cheat codes, Episode 0, and a few other goodies to help round out the package.  So how is it now?  I was surprised at being more critical about it than I expected.  I spent so, so many hours on the original and still appreciate the artistry, mystery, and general aura it so masterfully produced in me.  The remake is truly a remake and not a 1:1 reproduction, so it felt "off."  I love some of the new art design, and given the primitive 3D hardware of the Saturn much of the remake is really more of an interpretation of some of the crude polygons and textures of the original.  I wasn't as much a fan of the reworked cinema scenes, as they seemed to feel rushed and lacked polish.  Post-patch, the controls feel much better though again it is somewhat more of an interpretation of the feel of the original.  There is an option to play in a more modern 3D twin-stick variant that I just couldn't pull off; I still have the original game in muscle memory.  I didn't try the gyro controls though I could imagine it being fun. 

I'm happy to say after all these years that I did manage to get through it on my first sitting, and I immediately wanted to crank up the difficulty and play with the settings.  It is tough to separate my nostalgia on this one, if it isn't obvious by now.  Overall I appreciate the remake and I would recommend giving it a try if you enjoyed the Saturn version or a good rail-shooter.  The very fact that I get to play a remade Panzer Dragoon on a portable system right now still amazes me so I am still overall satisfied and glad I bought it.

Besides these two new titles, I'm really into Sega's catalog of remakes and ports on the Switch, most of which I've already mentioned in the past.  When it comes to M2's SEGA AGES line I'm happy with how each of these respect the originals while giving some quality-of-life modern touch-ups.

G-LOC: Air Battle
Another fairly new addition through the SEGA AGES line, this is the first time the arcade game has received a faithful port.  Though it looks at first glance like another After Burner game, tactically it is an aggressive time attack with much more freedom of movement.  It isn't for everyone, as the tough canyon stages and general quarter-munching difficulty make it a quick burst game instead of something you are likely to spend hours at a time playing.  Still, for both gaming historians and fans of SEGA arcade games, it fits right into the Switch lineup.

Virtua Racing
I dig each of the previous console ports despite the varying physics engines on each.  I even put many weekends into the Genny cart.  But this Switch release truly feels like the arcade machine to me, as much as a console port ever could.  The included split-screen multiplayer has already gotten more plays than I expected and has been a lot of fun.

Lightening Force: Quest for the Dartstar (AKA) Thunder Force IV
I keep mentioning it but I still want to champion such a perfect port of one of the greatest 16-bit shmups.

Phantasy Star
I've played a few versions of this over the years, from the original Master System version to the GBA collection.  While I adore old-school game design, in my old age I also welcome modern quality-of-life updates, and the additions to this port are a perfect list; auto-mapping, item descriptions, tweaked enemy encounter rates, smoothed-out leveling, and of course the ability to play it just like the original for historical (or masochists') sake.  Any fan of traditional JRPGs owe it to themselves to give it a spin and see one of the grandfathers of the modern RPG.

The Entire SEGA AGES Lineup

There are many more SEGA AGES ports with M2's signature skill and thoughtfulness on the eShop; Fantasy Zone, Alex Kidd, Columns II, Gain Ground, Ichidant-R, Puyo Puyo, Shinobi, Out Run, Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic 2, Space Harrier, Wonder Boy: Monster Land, and the upcoming Thunder Force AC.  I hope one day to have a physical collection, but these digital versions go on sale often and are among the best games of their generation.

After these and the Genesis Classics compilation and the all-but-confirmed rumor of Sega Rally on the Switch, all I need now is Panzer Dragoon Saga and my Switch will have all my needed SEGA goodness.

Oh, after Guardian Heroes, Dragon Force, Mr. Bones, Herzog Zwei, Sewer Shark, Rocket Knight Adventures, Silpheed, Popful Mail, Burning Rangers, Shadow Squadron, Crazy Taxi, Dark Wizard, Skies of Arcadia, Red Dog, Mars Matrix, the entire Shining Force series...


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