Reliving the Frustration That Was Zaxxon

Oh Zaxxon. How I despised thee! Sega‘s Zaxxon from the heady days of 1982 is yet another classic from the golden age of nicotine-stained arcade cabinet games. When Zaxxon arrived on the scene it was all at once hailed as a tour de force, as well as a frustrating pile of garbage.  Ok, allow me to generalize here with a grand statement and say that while just about everyone loved to play Zaxxon, no one was good at Zaxxon. The only people who were good at Zaxxon were an elite few who had probably logged at least 8000 hours flying actual planes (or actually Zaxxon). Those were the people who were able to master Zaxxon and defeat that salad-bar looking robot at the end. And all that just to collect a measly 1000 points. Yes that’s right. After all of the pain and suffering of flying into cinder blocks you get to collect 1000 points. Sorry for the 40 year old spoiler.

Or maybe it’s just that I’m still bitter about the many, many quarters that 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 into specifics) 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 developped some semblance of control of the ship, your remaining goal in Zaxxon was 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 by the way is a very strange material to use on a space station!)

In keeping with the game’s futuristic design, the actual ship in Zaxxon looked not unlike NASA‘s Space Shuttle which made it feel current (for the 80’s) but also futuristic, because you know…space stuff. The game also employed a shadow under the ship which helped in giving you a reference point in terms of height and depth. It should be strongly noted here that this did not help me in the least as I continued to suck very badly at this game.

Anyhow, Zaxxon is still revered as a classic and no one can take that away from it no matter how much I appear to bash the game. Zaxxon will retain 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 on some level. Except now I don’t have to spend my hard earned lunch money on the thing. Joke’s on you, Zaxxon!

Thanks to the Internet, you can watch someone finish Zaxxon and Super Zaxxon. Sounds impressive, right? Well you know what? They’re using the invincibility code because that’s right: no one is good at Zaxxon.

Year: 1982
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
Platform: Arcade, various consoles
Genre: Isometric Scrolling Shooter

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