From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Zaxxon flyer.jpg
North American arcade flyer
Ikegami Tsushinki[1]
Platform(s)Arcade, ColecoVision, Coleco Adam, Commodore 64, MSX, Atari 2600, Atari 8-bit, SG-1000, Apple II, Intellivision, IBM PC , TRS-80, TRS-80 Color Computer, ZX Spectrum
Genre(s)Scrolling shooter
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer
Arcade systemSega Zaxxon

Zaxxon[a] is an isometric shooter arcade game, developed and released by Sega in 1982,[5] in which the player pilots a ship through heavily defended space fortresses. Japanese electronics company Ikegami Tsushinki is also credited for having worked on the development of the game.[5][1]

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,[6] with a commercial produced by Paramount Pictures for $150,000.[7] The game was a critical and commercial success upon release, becoming one of the top five highest-grossing arcade games of 1982 in the United States. Sega followed it with the arcade sequel Super Zaxxon (1982) and the isometric platformer Congo Bongo (1983).


The Zaxxon robot at the end of the second fortress

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).[8] 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.[9] An altimeter is also displayed; in space there is nothing for the ship to cast a shadow on.[10] 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.

The game is controlled by a four-directional joystick. On arcade cabinets this is an aircraft-type stick with a molded hand grip. Pushing forward makes the player's aircraft lower in altitude and pulling back makes it rise. The aircraft cannot move forward or backward; it flies at constant speed. As this sort of control and movement was not common in video games, the arcade cabinets have illustrations around the joystick to indicate the effect of each position on the aircraft.


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.[11] The Atari 2600 and Intellivision ports use a third-person, behind-the-ship perspective instead of the isometric graphics of the other versions.



The arcade game was a major commercial success in North America. Zaxxon reached the top of the monthly US RePlay arcade charts in June 1982.[22] The Amusement & Music Operators Association (AMOA) later listed it among the top six highest-grossing arcade games of 1982 in the United States.[23]

The game did not appear on the annual Game Machine [ja] lists of top twenty highest-grossing arcade games 1982.[24] Game Machine later listed Zaxxon in their June 1, 1983 issue as the eighth top-grossing table arcade cabinet of the month.[25]

The ColecoVision version was also commercially successful. Zaxxon was Coleco's best-selling non-bundled cartridge for the ColecoVision up until 1983.[21]

The home computer ports were commercially successful in North America and Europe. II Computing listed Zaxxon fourth on its list of top Apple II games as of late 1985, based on sales and market-share data.[26] U.S. Gold's home computer version of Zaxxon was ranked number-two on the UK software sales chart in early 1985.[27]


The arcade game was well received upon release. David Cohen in his book Video Games praised the "incredible three-dimensional realism" in the graphics, which he considered the best in a video game to date, while describing the gameplay as "a mixture of driving and zap game."[28] Computer and Video Games praised the game for being "at the frontier of a third dimension in arcade games" and for its "realistic" altitude-based gameplay for the time.[3]

Video Games in 1983 called the ColecoVision version of Zaxxon a "coup for this new system".[29] 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".[30]: 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".[19]

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".[31] 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.[32]


At the 1982 Arkie Awards, the arcade game received a Certificate of Merit as runner-up for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Coin-Op Game.[33] At the 1983 Arcade Awards, the console cartridge conversion received a Certificate of Merit as runner-up for Videogame of the Year.[34] At the 1984 Arkie Awards, the dedicated console version was awarded Stand-Alone Game of the Year, while the home computer conversion received a Certificate of Merit as runner-up for Computer Game of the Year.[35] In January 1985, Electronic Games magazine included Zaxxon in its Hall of Fame.[36] In 1995, Flux magazine ranked the arcade version 51st on their "Top 100 Video Games."[37]



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,[38] the PAL region on March 5, 2010, and North America on April 12, 2010. In 2022, the original arcade version will be included as part of the Sega Astro City Mini V, a vertically oriented variant of the Sega Astro City mini console.[39]


Zaxxon was followed by an arcade sequel in November 1982: Super Zaxxon.[1] It has a different color scheme, the player's ship flies faster (making the game more difficult), the space segment is replaced with a tunnel, and the enemy at the end of the second fortress is a dragon. It did not do as well as the original. Super Zaxxon topped the US RePlay arcade chart for software conversion kits in July 1983.[40] In 1984, Sega released Future Spy with a similar style.[41]

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.

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.[42][43]

Zaxxon Escape was released on October 4, 2012, for iOS and Android devices. The game was criticized for having little resemblance to the original.[44]

Popular culture[edit]

In 1982 Milton Bradley released a Zaxxon board game.[45][46]

In Paramount's 1984 film Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, the character Tommy Jarvis, played by Corey Feldman, plays Zaxxon during his introduction.[47]

In 2012, Zaxxon was shown at "The Art of Video Games" exhibition at the Smithsonian.[48]


  1. ^ Japanese: ザクソン, Hepburn: Zakuson


  1. ^ a b c d Akagi, Masumi (13 October 2006). アーケードTVゲームリスト国内•海外編(1971–2005) [Arcade TV Game List: Domestic • Overseas Edition (1971–2005)] (in Japanese). Japan: Amusement News Agency. p. 131. ISBN 978-4990251215.
  2. ^ Akagi, Masumi (13 October 2006). アーケードTVゲームリスト国内•海外編(1971–2005) [Arcade TV Game List: Domestic • Overseas Edition (1971–2005)] (in Japanese). Japan: Amusement News Agency. p. 77. ISBN 978-4990251215.
  3. ^ a b c "The 3D space fortress: Zaxxon". Computer and Video Games. No. 10 (August 1982). UK: EMAP. July 1982. p. 26.
  4. ^ "Video Game Flyers: Zaxxon (France)". The Arcade Flyer Archive. Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  5. ^ a b It started from Pong (それは『ポン』から始まった : アーケードTVゲームの成り立ち, sore wa pon kara hajimatta: ākēdo terebi gēmu no naritachi), Masumi Akagi (赤木真澄, Akagi Masumi), Amusement Tsūshinsha (アミューズメント通信社, Amyūzumento Tsūshinsha), 2005, ISBN 4-9902512-0-2.
  6. ^ Mark J. P. Wolf (2008), The video game explosion: a history from PONG to Playstation and beyond Archived 2018-04-14 at the Wayback Machine, p. xviii, ABC-CLIO, ISBN 0-313-33868-X
  7. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (July 3, 1982). "Movie Themes Come To Video Games". Star-News. Retrieved 28 February 2012.
  8. ^ Zaxxon from the Killer List of Videogames (KLOV)
  9. ^ Bernard Perron & Mark J. P. Wolf (2008), Video game theory reader two, p. 158 Archived 2015-02-25 at the Wayback Machine, Taylor & Francis, ISBN 0-415-96282-X
  10. ^ Chris Melissinos; Elizabeth Broun (2012). The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect. Welcome Books. pp. 28–9. ISBN 978-1-59962-110-4. Archived from the original on 2012-07-12. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
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  14. ^ "Le site des anciennes revues informatiques". Archived from the original on 2016-03-12. Retrieved 2016-03-11.
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  19. ^ a b Lentvorski, Andrew Jr. (February 1984). "Zaxxon". K-Power. p. 59. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  20. ^ "Software Report Card". Video Games Player. Vol. 1, no. 1. United States: Carnegie Publications. September 1982. pp. 62–3.
  21. ^ a b Dimetrosky, Raymond (November 1983). "Video Game Buyer's Guide: One on One (Zaxxon vs. Zaxxon)". Video Games Player. Vol. 2, no. 2. United States: Carnegie Publications. p. 55.
  22. ^ "RePlay: The Players' Choice". RePlay. June 1982.
  23. ^ "AMOA Announces Jukebox and Games Awards Winners". Cash Box. 30 October 1982. p. 37.
  24. ^ ""Pole Position" No. 1 Video Game: Game Machine's "The Year's Best Three AM Machines" Survey Results" (PDF). Game Machine. No. 207. Amusement Press, Inc. 1 March 1983. p. 30.
  25. ^ "Game Machine's Best Hit Games 25 - テーブル型TVゲーム機 (Table Videos)". Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 213. Amusement Press, Inc. 1 June 1983. p. 29.
  26. ^ Ciraolo, Michael (Oct–Nov 1985). "Top Software / A List of Favorites". II Computing. p. 51. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  27. ^ "Gallup Chart". Computer Gamer. No. 1. United Kingdom: Argus Press. April 1985. p. 14.
  28. ^ Cohen, Daniel (1982). Video Games. New York: Pocket Books. p. 43. ISBN 0-671-45872-8.
  29. ^ Wiswell, Phil (March 1983). "New Games From Well-Known Names". Video Games. p. 69. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  30. ^ Kunkel, Bill; Katz, Arnie (April 1983). "Arcade Alley: Zaxxon, Turbo, and Two for Apple II". Video. Vol. 7, no. 1. pp. 26, 28–29. ISSN 0147-8907.
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  32. ^ "The Best and the Rest". St.Game. Mar–Apr 1984. p. 49. Archived from the original on 2014-07-29. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
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  34. ^ "Videogame of the Year". Electronic Games. Vol. 2, no. 23. January 1984. p. 67. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
  35. ^ "1985 Arkie Awards". Electronic Games. Vol. 3, no. 35. January 1985. pp. 28–9. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
  36. ^ "Hall of Fame Winners". Electronic Games. Vol. 3, no. 35. January 1985. pp. 58–59 [58]. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
  37. ^ "Top 100 Video Games". Flux. No. 4. Harris Publications. April 1995. p. 30.
  38. ^ Life, Nintendo (27 November 2009). "December 2009 releases in Japan". Nintendo Life. Archived from the original on 2009-11-30. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
  39. ^ McFerran, Damien (December 17, 2021). "Sega's Astro City Mini Is Getting A 'TATE' Version Packed With Shmup Goodness". Nintendo Life. Nlife Media. Retrieved 2021-12-17.
  40. ^ "RePlay: The Players' Choice". RePlay. July 1983.
  41. ^ "Future Spy". Arcade History.
  42. ^ "ProReview: Zaxxon's Motherbase 2000". GamePro. No. 82. IDG. July 1995. p. 46.
  43. ^ "Review Crew: Zaxxon's Motherbase 2000". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 71. Ziff Davis. June 1995. p. 36.
  44. ^ "'Zaxxon Escape' Review – Hardly A Resemblance (Review)". 2013-12-06. Archived from the original on 2016-03-12. Retrieved 2016-03-11.
  45. ^ Zaxxon Archived 2006-10-19 at the Wayback Machine from the Great Game Database (GGDb)
  46. ^ Zaxxon at BoardGameGeek
  47. ^ "Sculpt or die Making 'Zaxxon' Mask from 'Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter' – Friday the 13th: The Franchise". Archived from the original on 2018-07-16. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  48. ^ Choney, Suzanne. "80 video games head for Smithsonian art exhibit". NBC News. Archived from the original on 2014-03-13. Retrieved 13 March 2014.

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