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Video Game / Zaxxon

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A 1982 Shoot 'em Up created by Sega, Zaxxon was the first Arcade Game to simulate a 3-dimensional view by using Isometric Projection, a form of axonometric projection (hence the name of the game). The game scrolls diagonally through enemy fortresses and outer space as the player's ship dodges the shots of enemy fighters and force field barriers, finally encountering the evil armored robot Zaxxon. Handicaps include the ship's constantly dwindling fuel supply (replenished, as in Scramble, by shooting fuel tanks), and a homing missile that will target the ship if it flies too high. The ship's altitude is indicated on a gauge and by shadows cast on the surface.

Zaxxon received multiple ports to home computers and consoles, though the diagonal-scrolling Isometric Projection was not retained in the Atari2600 and Intellivision versions. A Mission-Pack Sequel, Super Zaxxon, was released for arcades; it replaced the robot boss with a trio of fire-breathing dragons (as well as replacing the space sequence with an underground tunnel, and generally making everything faster). Sega went on to produce two similar isometric arcade games: Congo Bongo and Future Spy.


Sega later released two console sequels that were considerably different:

  • Zaxxon 3-D (1987) for the Sega Master System exchanged the isometric view for an into-the-screen view, the better to take advantage of the 3-D glasses packaged with the game.
  • Zaxxon's Motherbase 2000 (1995) for the Sega 32X went back to the isometric view, but ships were now rendered in bleeding-edge polygonal graphics.

Zaxxon contains examples of:

  • Camera Screw: Due to Isometric Projection perspective, it's often frustrating to judge the height of your plane in relation to the terrain. There's an indicator on the side of the screen, but it's still difficult.
  • Deadly Walls: Big walls have small gaps to fly through.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: Zaxxon's Motherbase 2000 is, outside of haveing isometric perspective, actually not related to Zaxxon at all. The game got Zaxxon moniker only in the North America; it was originally titled Parasquad in Japan.
  • Advertisement:
  • Every 10,000 Points: You get a bonus fighter at 10,000 points.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: The Final Boss theme from Zaxxon's Motherbase 2000.
  • Space Is Noisy: Would you believe "space wind"?
  • Word Purée Title: The title Zaxxon came from the word "axonometric projection", and is also the name of the Final Boss.


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