Oh Zaxxon. How I despise thee! Sega‘s Zaxxon is yet another classic from the golden age of nicotine-stained arcade cabinet games that was all at once hailed as a tour de force, as well as a frustrating pile of garbage. Ok, let me generalize here with a grand statement and say that while everyone loved Zaxxon, no one was good at Zaxxon. The only people who were good at Zaxxon were an elite few who had probably spent at least 8000 hours flying actual planes. Those were the people who were able to master Zaxxon and defeat that salad-bar looking robot at the end, and just to collect a measly 1000 points. Sorry for the 40 year old spoiler.
Or maybe it’s just that I’m still bitter about the many quarters I offered up to the arcade gods only to remain supremely bad at this game. Maybe.
The isometric view (axonometric if you really want to get specific) was spectacular and groundbreaking at the time, and as cool as it was, it didn’t help me to suck any less at this game. Once you got used to the isometric view and control of the ship, your remaining goal in Zaxxon is to just destroy everything in sight and not die. But die I did, and I did it by mostly crashing into that cinder block wall (which is a very strange material to use on a space station by the way!)
The ship in Zaxxon looked not unlike NASA‘s Space Shuttle which made it feel current (for the 80’s) and also futuristic, because…space stuff. The game also employed a shadow under the ship to help give you a reference point in terms of height. This did not help me as I continued to suck badly at this game.
Anyhow, Zaxxon is still a classic and it has its place in the pantheon of classic arcade games regardless of how frustrating I found it to play. Playing it again this week brought back the same hot tears and feelings of worthlessness, so I guess Zaxxon is still winning. Except now, I don’t have to spend my hard earned lunch money on the thing. Joke’s on you, Zaxxon!
Here, watch someone finish Zaxxon and Super Zaxxon. And you know what? They’re using the invincibility code because that’s right: no one is good at Zaxxon.
Platform: Arcade, various consoles
Genre: Isometric Scrolling Shooter