Zaxxon: Classic Arcade Game Video, History & Game Play Overview
Created and published by Sega in 1982, Zaxxon was the first arcade game of its type. This shooter uses an isometric theme, dividing the screen into equal planes and quadrants. The result was a game that was among the first to simulate a 3D perspective for players.
In addition to a copycat version of the game titled Jackson, there were two official versions of Zaxxon and four sequels. Super Zaxxon came out the same year as the official, while Zaxxon 3-D was released in 1987. Zaxxon Motherbase came out in 2000, and finally, Zaxxon Escape came out in 2012.
The first port for Zaxxon came out in 1982 for the ColecoVision. Soon after, ports were made for the Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari XEGS, Intellivision and Sega home gaming consoles. Ports for the Sony PlayStation 2 and 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii were also developed.
Zaxxon is an infinite play one or two player game.
Game Play Overview
The main antagonist in Zaxxon is an evil robotic force that goes by the same name. Players control a space ship, which travels through space. Along the way, multiple enemies sent for by Zaxxon attack. Because of the unique way that Zaxxon was designed, players feel like they are in the game, traveling in space, rather than controlling a visible, 2-dimensional ship.
There are two main parts to Zaxxon, which take place in two futuristic cityscapes. After each of the main stages there are two secondary levels, which consist of an outer space fight and the final Zaxxon boss battle. Points are earned for destroying obstacles and enemies alike. While the player ship is visible to players, the background moves in a way that makes each individual player like he or she is participating in the action directly.
Opponents, such as enemy aircrafts can appear both below and within the same airspace as the player ship. Shooting down an enemy airplane while it is still on the ground is worth 50 points. By contrast, either 50 or 100 points are earned when enemy planes are shot while they are in flight. If all of the enemy aircrafts present on the screen are destroyed, you will get a 1,000 point bonus.
Missiles launched from the ground and shot down by the player ship are worth 150 points. Earn 200 points by destroying a missile that was launched in mid-air. Large, imposing buildings resembling satellite towers are worth 1,000 points. Individual satellites floating along in space have a 300 point value. Green and grey guns will also appear from time to. They have a point value that ranges from 200 to 500 points.
Lastly, fuel barrels are worth 300 points. These are especially important as the player ship has a limited amount of fuel. Shooting fuel barrels will give you points as well as re-fill your fuel reserves. After the main two stages have been passed, players will face off with Zaxxon.
There are two ways to get bonus points in Zaxxon. Eliminating all opposing aircrafts on screen will yield an extra 1,000 point bonus. Zaxxon attacks with missile launchers. Target the red missile and blow it up before a missile is launched and earn another 1,000 points.
Zaxxon – Only seem in the latter portion of the game, Zaxxon is the force pulling all of the strings. Each enemy that you fight has been sent by Zaxxon, who is an evil robot of unknown origins.
Fuel barrels – Hit fuel barrels with your gun for extra points and more fuel. Your fuel will deplete faster at later levels.
Player ship – The player ship is small, maneuverable and can move in many directions. This ship can be shot down if players are not careful to avoid foes.
Enemy aircrafts – Enemy planes will be seen both on the ground and in the air. Shoot them down in order to avoid dangerous battles.
Barriers – At certain points in Zaxxon, barriers with small openings will block your path. Guide the player ship between these gaps so that you can continue to fight.
Satellites – Satellites do not shoot at the player ship, but they can cause players to lose a turn if they are collided into. Additionally, blowing up a satellite will give players a small boost in fuel.
Guns – Guns can either be green or gray, but they are always dangerous. Stay away from them and shoot them down whenever possible.
Force fields – Toward the top of the screen, there will sometimes be force fields that can literally suck the player ship in. Coming in contact with a force field always results in the loss of a turn.
Missiles – Missiles pose the single most dangerous threat. Even after a missile has been destroyed, another can be launched. Approach missile bases with caution.
Satellite towers – These enemies do not move, and they do not attack. However, you must be careful not to accidentally fly into them.
How to Play Zaxxon
Besides having a gun that never runs out of ammunition, it is most important to depend on the directional controls. There are enemies that cannot be killed, so you will need to maneuver the player ship to stay away from them. In Zaxxon, players have to learn how to instinctively ‘know’ which direction the ship will fly toward next. By shooting your gun, you will be able to follow the path of your bullets. However, this trick only works on the first level.
There will be dozens of barriers for you to fly over and between on level 1. Over time, the spaces within these barriers will grow smaller, making it more difficult for players to navigate safely. In addition, satellites, enemy planes and missiles will litter the landscape.
Since it is easy to reserve fuel on this level, you will not need to go after many fuel barrels. However, it still makes sense to get used to shooting them now. Missiles will appear from underneath quite often, so anticipate many surprise attacks.
Sub-Level 1 – Outer Space
After getting through the first level, the player ship will go into outer space. In outer space match the size of the player’s aircraft to that of the enemies to take them out and earn extra points. There, 20 enemy airplanes will appear in quick succession. After they have been dispatched, another group will appear. The last group of enemy aircrafts will come onto the screen just behind the player ship. A few satellites will also appear in between the eradication of each plane formation.
You will have to shoot and move quickly in order to make it through this stage. If successful, 1,000 points will be added to your score. This stage also readies players for the chaos that is to ensue.
Although level 2 officially marks the middle of the game, this stage is described as being quite simple to complete. There will be fewer enemies, mainly missiles that come from underneath. However, fuel will be in short supply. The player ship burns much more fuel on this stage.
Constantly stay on the lookout for fuel barrels, destroying them whenever you have the opportunity. If you are able to keep a fresh stock of fuel in your reserves, you will be able to complete this level.
Sub-Level 2 – Zaxxon Boss Fight
Next, the boss fight with Zaxxon will take place. Only six direct hits will cause his destruction, but this is easier said than done. Every missile that Zaxxon launches must be shot down. If his missiles are not intercepted, the player ship will take a major hit.
The best way to approach the boss fight is to fly so that you are just above the center point of the screen. This will force Zaxxon into your line of fire, which will increase the accuracy of your shots. After you have hit him a few times, fly away. Once he has been struck six times, he will be destroyed.
Beyond Level 2
Zaxxon has no end screen, so players can continue to cycle through the four stages until they run out of men.
Hints and Tips
- Level 1 is often regarded as the most difficult stage in the game. Always destroy ground missiles immediately and keep your fuel reserves as high as possible.
- Barriers can be treacherous if you have not yet learned how to completely control the player ship. The key to guiding the player’s ship through openings in the barriers is to first shoot the wall. Then based on the shot location, gauge whether you are flying too high or low.
We hope you enjoyed the video and the information shared on this classic arcade game.
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