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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 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 Atari 2600 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:

  • Antagonist Title: The title is named after the final boss, the robot Zaxxon.
  • Artifact Title: For the Atari 2600 and Intellivision versions, where the view is instead centered directly behind the player's ship rather than axonometric.
  • Battleship Raid: This game, from The Golden Age of Video Games, is an early example of this trope and consists entirely of attacking surface installations on a giant enemy vessel.
  • Bottomless Fuel Tanks: An exception similar to Scramble, where you fly through an enemy fortress with a diminishing fuel supply and refuel by shooting fuel tanks.
  • Deadly Walls: Big walls have small gaps to fly through. In the second space fortress, the wall's height varies, but is covered above by a force field.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: Zaxxon's Motherbase 2000, outside of having isometric perspective, is actually not related to Zaxxon at all. The game got the Zaxxon moniker only in North America; it was originally titled Parasquad in Japan.
  • Double X: Zaxxon.
  • Every 10,000 Points: You get a bonus fighter at 10,000 points.
  • Isometric Projection: This is one of the earliest games to use it. There is also an altimeter on the left to help gauge the height of the fighter— each section of the altimeter should correspond with the in-game projection to four altitude levels. Some ports decided to add extra markers to the altimeter, which would be slightly confusing.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: The Final Boss theme from Zaxxon's Motherbase 2000.
  • One-Word Title: Zaxxon, a word named for "axonometric projection".
  • Space Is Noisy: There is "space wind" audio during the gameplay.
  • Sprite/Polygon Mix: Zaxxon's Motherbase 2000 has polygonal ships and other enemies over flat-looking diagonal-scrolling backgrounds.
  • Time-Limit Boss: You need to hit Zaxxon's missile six times before it launches, which awards the most points. If it launches, Zaxxon will instead escape and you'll get a smaller point reward.
  • Word Purée Title: The title Zaxxon came from the word "axonometric projection", and is also the name of the Final Boss.