Friday, 13 April 2018

Tech Battle: Panzer Dragoon

I have a thing for comparing different versions of the same game and see how they differ. It's the very first thing I do before starting a new game for the first time, especially the more ports it has. Most people simply go for their favourite platform (i.e., the Saturn, of course) or the one that's most convenient to them, but assuming that I'll only be playing through the game once, I just need to do it with the very best version there is, whether it's about having better graphics, performance or extra content. The problem is this information is not always so easy to find. There are lots of rumours that upon closer inspection turn out to not be true (the Japanese release of Tomb Raider does not have better performance), and sometimes there's just no info at all.

So, because I'm a curious guy by nature, I thought I'd try and figure this out by myself. The choice of game wasn't random, this whole idea came to me soon after purchasing a second hand copy of the PC version and realising that at that moment I finally had the full set of Panzer Dragoon.

Wait, isn't this just a DF Retro rip-off?

Well, kind of. Honestly I'm a huge fan of the show. I thoroughly appreciate what they do, and eagerly watch every episode they release. John Linneman knows way more about this stuff than I do, and has access to hardware that I can only dream of, like an FCAT setup and a PVM, so I couldn't ever compete.

What I can do is cover the stuff they don't, like the (sometimes significant) differences between the NTSC and PAL releases of the same game, or go more in-depth into emulation and modifications like widescreen hacks.

But didn't they make an episode about Panzer Dragoon already?

Yes, they did, and it drove me a little crazy at the time. See, if you go back to episode 8 of our Titancast, recorded before the DF Retro video came out, I mentioned how I was working on a Panzer Dragoon video at the time. Yup, this was that video. It took me a long time, for a variety of reasons. Some personal, which ate up almost all of my free time for a while, and others just related to the making of the video. Between setting up every version, playing, recording, comparing them and trying to figure stuff out for myself, like how to properly measure resolutions and framerate without the adequate tools, this has been a long time in the making, more than two months in fact between capturing the first piece of gameplay and encoding the final product.

In the meantime, out of all the hundreds of retro games that DF Retro could have chosen for a new episode, they just had to pick the very same game I was covering.

My first thought was to just drop the whole thing. Then I watched their video and, despite the usual high quality I noticed how they didn't go as in-depth over the various ports as I expected, nor cover emulation (other than mentioning Yabause), so there was my opening.

The end result is what you can watch above. Feel free to let us know what you think, both of the video itself and my analysis of the various versions, and of course, tell us what yours is.

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