In a now-deleted tweet, the official PanzerDragoon: VR Twitter account claimed that producer Haruto Watanabe had died and the game would no longer be completed. According to VGC, the original post read: “Panzer Dragoon Voyage Record has been canceled due to the cancellation of the contract by Sega and the death of the producer, Haruto Watanabe, CEO of Wildman Inc. Thank you for your support.”
Written in both Japanese and English, the strange tweet was then deleted and promptly debunked by a number of people online. One Twitter user posted: “I went to the Wildman office and can confirm he’s safe. A lot of friends are gathering.” Another stated: “We’ve just received confirmation of the safety of our friend and colleague. More information will be tweeted by him as soon as he is settled.”
PanzerDragoon: Voyage Record was first announced in March 2020 and offers a new spin on the original titles that were released for the Sega Saturn in the ‘90s. Panzer Dragoon, Panzer Dragoon II Zwei, and Panzer Dragoon Saga came out for the Saturn in 1995, 1996, and 1998 respectively. The games mixed fantasy with arcade-like gameplay, providing a rail shooter that was memorable enough to warrant a revisit more than 10 years after the fact.
Will we get a release still? — It may read as insensitive but it is still unclear what this strange piece of debunked news means for the future of the game. PanzerDragoon: VR was supposed to drop this past March in 2021 and information regarding development has been scarce. While delays are not exactly uncommon (looking at you Halo) a false claim of death is never part of the release rollout.
Around the time of the original announcement for PanzerDragoon: VR, a remake of the original Sega Saturn series was released for the Nintendo Switch and was literally titled Panzer Dragoon: Remake. Helmed by Polish studio Forever Entertainment, the rail shooter was billed as “true to the original, with improved graphics and controls, that suit modern gaming standards.”
For what it’s worth, Remake was developed by a separate company from the forthcoming VR game, which is under the supervision of the Japanese developer and publisher, Wildman. Whether or not PanzerDragoon: VR sees the light of day is still up for debate but for now at least Watanabe is safe.