Panzer Paladin Draws Inspiration From 8-Bit "Black Sheep" Like Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link

Tribute Games reminds us there's a lot we can learn from weirdos.

It's very common for indie game developers to deliver elevator pitches by referencing other games, particularly beloved retro titles. "Our game is like Mega Man," they might say. Or "our game is like Castlevania."

Tribute Games pitched its upcoming action-platformer Panzer Paladin as both those games to me—and then named several more 8-bit classics, including Sunsoft's Blaster Master and the not-technically-8-bit-but-close-enough Shovel Knight. Indeed, there's so much "retro love" going on in Panzer Paladin that I was initially worried there'd be no room left for its own voice, its own creative expression.

Interestingly, something about the way Panzer Paladin picks and chooses mechanics from so many old games made the demo I played at PAX East feel unique. I guess it's a bit like how Mr. Burns from The Simpsons carries so many deadly diseases that there's no room for any of them to manifest fully, so he enjoys good health as a result.

What a wonderful night to curse at fools. | Tribute Games

It might also help that Panzer Paladin doesn't hesitate to take inspiration from the "black sheep" of beloved 8-bit series. Justin Cyr, one of Tribute Games' founders, named some of these oft-criticized games as he walked me through my session. Two notable titles are Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest and Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link. The latter's influence is clear in the upward- and- downward-stab attacks you can perform while you're riding your titular Panzer armor (you can eject from the armor at any time to fight as a lither but less-powerful warrior. There's that Blaster Master shout-out). I also fought a heavily-armored enemy who attacks and defends much like an Ironknuckle from Zelda 2. If you've ever tried to break through one of those metallic bastards' shields, you know exactly what I mean.

It's intriguing to see how Panzer Paladin takes inspiration from lesser-loved entries in long-lived series. Castlevania 2 and Zelda 2 are huge risk-takers, and while some of their design decisions miss the mark, their differences still make them special in an industry that generally favors "safe" ideas. Zelda 2 takes us to the far northern reaches of Hyrule, a place we haven't explored since. Castlevania 2 favors narrative and adventure over tricky platforming, and its "slower" pace inspired Koji Igarashi to pitch Castlevania: Symphony of the Night to Konami.

Good things come from strange ideas, and Panzer Paladin might offer us another example when it comes out in spring 2020. The demo I played was short, and there's a long way for Tribute Games to go, but if it remembers what makes black sheep games so interesting while refining said games' oft-clumsy mechanics, we're in for a cool ride next year.

Disclosure: USG is owned by ReedPop, which runs PAX East.

Tagged with Action Adventure, Opinions, PAX East 2019, PC, Platformer, tribute games.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Read this next

Apex Legends Season 2 Release Date - When Does Season 2 of Apex Legends Start?

This is our guide to the Apex Legends Season 2 start date, including Battle Pass details and more.

PS5 Spec Details Hard Drive and Ray Tracing - PS5 Release Date and Price Speculation

Sony finally talks about the PS5, giving the first official info on the next-gen console. We round-up of all the PS5 release date news and price speculation, PS5 spec leaks, and general PlayStation 5 gossip.

Fortnite Beach Party Locations - How to Complete the Fortnite Beach Parties Challenges

Here's our guide to all the Fortnite beach party locations, so you can complete the new Fortnite beach parties challenge.

Fortnite 14 Days of Summer Challenges and Rewards

Here's our guide to the full Fortnite 14 Days of Summer LTM, including start date, schedule, rewards, and more.

How to Get Spell Energy in Harry Potter Wizards Unite

This is our guide to Wizards Unite spell energy, detailing how to get spell energy quickly.

Easy Ways to Increase PS4 Download Speed and Get Faster PSN Downloads

How to increase your PS4's download speed and get your games downloaded faster. Improve your PS4's download speed for free or at a cost. No longer be plagued by slow PSN download speeds with this guide explaining why PS4 download speeds are slow.

FIFA 19 Best Young Players With Highest Potential Under 21

In this FIFA 19 Potential guide, we detail the best young FIFA 19 players you can buy in the FIFA 19 Career Mode.

More Opinions

Starting Screen | Auto Chess is the Latest Gaming Industry Gold Rush, Like MOBA and Battle Royale Before It

In such a short period of time, there's been an explosion in the autobattler genre.

Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 Trailer: All the Big Fan Theories That Have Already Emerged

It looks like Ganondorf is making his Breath of the Wild debut, and that can only spell trouble. We've analyzed the Breath of the Wild 2 trailer.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night Reminds Me How Much I Missed Touring Castles from Hell

Sometimes you want to go where everybody eats your skin.

Sea of Solitude is a Deeply Personal Project For One Developer

This fantastical adventure is based on a real story.

More on PC

Apex Legends Season 2 Release Date - When Does Season 2 of Apex Legends Start?

This is our guide to the Apex Legends Season 2 start date, including Battle Pass details and more.

Fortnite Beach Party Locations - How to Complete the Fortnite Beach Parties Challenges

Here's our guide to all the Fortnite beach party locations, so you can complete the new Fortnite beach parties challenge.

Fortnite 14 Days of Summer Challenges and Rewards

Here's our guide to the full Fortnite 14 Days of Summer LTM, including start date, schedule, rewards, and more.

FIFA 19 Best Young Players With Highest Potential Under 21

In this FIFA 19 Potential guide, we detail the best young FIFA 19 players you can buy in the FIFA 19 Career Mode.

The Sims 4 Cheats: How to Use Cheats, Cheats List, Money, Relationship Cheats - All Sims 4 Cheats for PC, Xbox and PlayStation 4

The Sims 4 is a ton of fun as is, but can be made even better by using Cheats. Here’s a full list of The Sims 4 Cheats.

NBA 2K19 Ads - Can You Skip Ads in NBA 2K19?

Here's how you can avoid the new unskippable ads in NBA 2K19.

Crash Team Racing Online: Private Matches, Battle Mode, Friends Menu

Crash Team Racing Nitro Fuelled brings online to the Crash universe for the first time. Here’s everything you need to know.

More Action Adventure Games

Zelda Breath of the Wild Champions' Ballad - How to Start BOTW DLC Pack 2

This is our guide on how to get started with the Zelda Breath of the Wild Champions' Ballad DLC pack.

Capcom Still Wants to Make New IP, Even as Established Franchises Find New Life

Capcom hasn't given up on new franchises, but older ones are doing better than ever.

After a Rough Fiscal 2019, EA Executives Give Up Their Bonuses

After struggling with Anthem and Apex Legends, EA's top execs lose their bonuses.

Final Fantasy 7 Everything We Know

Here's our guide to the Final Fantasy 7 Remake on PS4, including the release date, the new redesigned Tifa, pre-order bonuses, and more.