North American arcade flyer
|Mode(s)||Up to 2 players, alternating turns|
|Cabinet||Upright and cocktail|
|Arcade system||Sega Zaxxon hardware|
|CPU||Z80 (@ 3.04125 MHz)|
|Display||Raster, 224 × 256 pixels (Vertical), 256 colors|
Zaxxon is a 1982 isometric shooter arcade game developed and released by Sega. Some sources claim that Japanese electronics company Ikegami Tsushinki also worked on the development of Zaxxon. The game gives the player the experience of flying a fighter craft through a fortress while shooting at enemy entities (missiles, enemy gunfire, etc.) The object of the game is to hit as many targets as possible without being shot down or running out of fuel—which can be replenished, paradoxically, by blowing up fuel drums.
At the time of its release, Zaxxon was unique as it was the first game to employ axonometric projection, which lent its name to the game (AXXON from AXONometric projection). The type of axonometric projection is isometric projection: this effect simulated three dimensions from a third-person viewpoint. It was also one of the first video games to display shadows, to indicate the ship's altitude above the surface; the game also employed an altitude meter, allowing the player to control how high or low the ship is above the surface. It was also the first arcade game to be advertised on television, with a commercial produced by Paramount Pictures for $150,000.
The world record on Zaxxon is 4,680,740 points scored by Vernon Kalanikaus of Lā'ie, Hawai'i, on March 15, 1982, according to the Twin Galaxies Intergalactic Scoreboard. A bootleg of the game was released in the arcades in 1982 called Jackson.
A popular game, Zaxxon was ported to almost all home computer and video game console systems between 1982 and 1985. Among them were DOS (as a booter), Amiga 1000, Apple II, Atari 400/800, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari XL, MSX, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Dragon 32, ColecoVision, Intellivision, Sega SG-1000 and TRS-80 Color Computer. Unauthorized adaptations of the game were published for the TI 99/4A (as Arcturus), Amstrad CPC (as Zaxx), BBC Micro (as Fortress), and the TRS-80 Color Computer (as Zakssund).
The Atari 2600 and Intellivision ports were noticeably different because they used a 3rd person, behind the ship 3D perspective instead of the isometric graphics of the other versions. This is probably due to technical limitations of these consoles. The ColecoVision version, designed by Coleco staffer Lawrence Schick, was the first home version to use the isometric graphics.
In 2006, Zaxxon games were included as bonus game on the Sega Genesis Collection for Sony's PlayStation 2 and PSP consoles. The original Zaxxon is the game included on the PS2, and Super Zaxxon is the one available on the PSP. Zaxxon was also included as an unlockable arcade game in Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Zaxxon spawned an arcade sequel: Super Zaxxon. It did not do as well as the original.
In 1987, Zaxxon 3-D was released for the Sega Master System. This console variation made use of its 3-D glasses add-on for extra depth perception. As the Atari 2600 and Intellivision ports, it was forward-scrolling rather than isometric.
Zaxxon's Motherbase 2000 was released for the Sega 32X in 1995. It is the first Zaxxon game to use full 3D graphics. The game bore the Zaxxon brand only in the United States, as the Japanese version was named Parasquad and the European version was named Motherbase.
A direct sequel, Zaxxon Escape, was released on October 4, 2012 for Apple and Android devices.
Tabletop and handheld games
In 1983, Coleco released a table top version of Zaxxon with a double panel VFD screen. Bandai released 2 Zaxxon handhelds: one VFD table top for the European and Japanese market, and an LCD card game sold worldwide.
Remakes and clones
In 1987's Panther, one had to rescue men and avoid enemy ships in a same isometric 3d-view game.
In popular culture
Zaxxon was a featured plot device of the 1986 independent feature film Hollywood Zap!.
- Future Spy was created by Sega in 1984. This game uses the same hardware as Zaxxon and has very similar game play but with a more realistic military theme.
- Hostile All Terrain Encounter (H.A.T.E.) is a Zaxxon clone developed by Vortex Software for several 8-bit and 16-bit computers and published by Gremlin Graphics in 1989.
- Viewpoint was released by Sammy in 1992 for the Neo-Geo system. This game features the same 3/4 view perspective and similar gameplay as Zaxxon.
- Blue Max, a World War I flying game for the Commodore 64 and 8-bit Atari computers, had a similar isometric perspective and similar gameplay, and was described by one reviewer as "a souped-up version of Zaxxon." 
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