North American arcade flyer
|Platform(s)||Arcade, ColecoVision, Coleco Adam, MSX, Atari 2600, Atari 8-bit, SG-1000, Apple II, Intellivision, IBM PC , TRS-80, TRS-80 Color Computer, ZX Spectrum|
|Arcade system||Sega Zaxxon|
Zaxxon[a] is a 1982 isometric shooter arcade game, developed and released by Sega, in which the player pilots a ship through heavily defended space fortresses. Some sources claim that Japanese electronics company Ikegami Tsushinki also worked on the development of the game.
Zaxxon 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 simulates three dimensions from a third-person viewpoint. It was also the first arcade game to be advertised on television, with a commercial produced by Paramount Pictures for $150,000.
The objective 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 (300 points).
There are two fortresses to fly through, with an outer space segment between them. At the end of the second fortress is a boss in the form of the Zaxxon robot.
The player's ship casts a shadow to indicate its height. An altimeter is also displayed; in space there is nothing for the ship to cast a shadow on. The walls at the entrance and exit of each fortress have openings that the ship must be at the right altitude to pass through. Within each fortress are additional walls that the ship's shadow and altimeter aid in flying over successfully.
Between 1982 and 1985, Zaxxon was ported to the Apple II, Atari 8-bit family, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, MSX, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Dragon 32, ColecoVision, Intellivision, IBM PC compatibles, Sega SG-1000, TRS-80 Color Computer, and TRS-80. The Atari 2600 and Intellivision ports use a third-person, behind-the-ship perspective instead of the isometric graphics of the other versions.
Video Games in 1983 called the ColecoVision version of Zaxxon a "coup for this new system". In Japan, Game Machine listed Zaxxon on their June 1, 1983 issue as being the eighth most-successful table arcade unit of the year. Video magazine also praised the ColecoVision version in its "Arcade Alley" column, describing it as "one of the most thrilling games available", and noting in passing that the only "serious criticism" of the arcade original was that "many players felt they needed flying lessons to have even a ghost of a chance of performing well".:26 K-Power rated the Color Computer version with 8 points out of 10. The magazine praised its "excellent three-dimensional graphics", and concluded that "Zaxxon is a game that can't be praised enough".
Softline in 1983 called the Atari 8-bit version "a superb three-dimensional computer game ... Not since Choplifter has a game looked so impressive". The magazine also liked the graphics of the Apple II and TRS-80 versions despite those computers' hardware limitations, and predicted that Zaxxon would be a "long-lived bestseller". In 1984 the magazine's readers named the game the fifth most-popular Apple program, the worst Apple program, and third-worst Atari program of 1983.
II Computing listed Zaxxon fourth on its list of top Apple II games as of late 1985, based on sales and market-share data.
Zaxxon is a bonus game in the Sega Genesis Collection for the PlayStation 2. It is also an unlockable arcade game in Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The arcade version was released on the Wii Virtual Console in Japan on December 15, 2009, the PAL region on March 5, 2010, and North America on April 12, 2010.
Zaxxon was followed by an arcade sequel: Super Zaxxon. The color scheme is different, the player's ship flies faster (making the game more difficult), and the robot at the end of the second fortress is replaced by a dragon. It did not do as well as the original. Future Spy was released by Sega in 1984, which uses the same hardware as Zaxxon and has very similar gameplay but with a more realistic military theme.
In 1987 Zaxxon 3-D was released for the Master System. This console variation makes use of the 3-D glasses add-on. As with the Atari 2600 and Intellivision ports, it is forward-scrolling rather than isometric.
In October 1993, Atari Corporation filed a lawsuit against Sega for an alleged infringement of a patent originally created by Atari Corp. in the 1980s, with the former seeking a preliminary injunction to stop manufacturing, usage and sales of hardware and software for both Sega Genesis and Game Gear. On September 28, 1994, both parties reached a settlement in which it involved a cross-licensing agreement to publish up to five titles each year across their systems until 2001. Zaxxon 3-D was one of the first five titles approved from the deal by Sega in order to be converted for the Atari Jaguar, but it was never released.
Zaxxon's Motherbase 2000 was released for the Sega 32X in 1995. It is the first Zaxxon game to incorporate polygon 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. U.S. gaming critics generally remarked that the game was not similar enough to Zaxxon to justify the use of the brand.
In popular culture
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