Codex Gamicus


Zaxxon is a 1982 arcade game developed and released by SEGA. Some sources[1][2][3] claim that Japanese electronics company Ikegami Tsushinki also worked on the development of Zaxxon. The game gives the player the experience of flying a fighter craft through a fortress while shooting at enemy entities (missiles, enemy gunfire, etc.) The object of the game is to hit as many targets as possible without being shot down or running out of fuel—which can be replenished, paradoxically, by blowing up fuel drums.[4]

At the time of its release, Zaxxon was unique as it was the first game to employ axonometric projection, which lent its name to the game (AXXON from AXONometric projection). The type of axonometric projection is isometric projection: this effect simulated three dimensions from a third-person viewpoint.

The world record on Zaxxon is 4,680,740 points scored by Vernon Kalanikaus of Lā'ie, Hawai'i, on March 15, 1982, according to the Twin Galaxies Intergalactic Scoreboard.[5]

A bootleg of the game was released in the arcades in 1982 called Jackson.[6]


A popular game, Zaxxon was ported to almost all home computer and video game console systems between 1982 and 1985. Among them were DOS (as a booter), Apple II, Atari 400/800, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari XL, MSX, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Dragon 32, ColecoVision, Intellivision, Sega SG-1000 and TRS-80 Color Computer.[7] Unauthorized adaptations of the game were published for the TI 99/4A (as Arcturus), Amstrad CPC (as Zaxx), BBC Micro (as Fortress), ZX Spectrum (as Zaxxan), and the TRS-80 Color Computer (as Zakssund).

The Atari 2600 and Intellivision ports were noticeably different because they used a side-scrolling perspective instead of the isometric graphics of the other versions. This is probably due to technical limitations of these consoles. The ColecoVision version, designed by Coleco staffer Lawrence Schick, was the first home version to use the isometric graphics.

In 2006, Zaxxon games were included as bonus game on the Sega Genesis Collection for Sony's PlayStation 2 and PSP consoles. The original Zaxxon is the game included on the PS2, and Super Zaxxon is the one available on the PSP. It was also included as an unlockable game in Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

The arcade version was released on the Wii Virtual Console in Japan on December 15, 2009,[8] the PAL region on March 5, 2010 and North America on April 12, 2010.


Due to its success, Zaxxon spawned an arcade sequel, Super Zaxxon. It did not do as well as the original.

In 1987, Zaxxon 3-D was released for the Sega Master System. This console variation made use of its 3-D glasses add-on for extra depth perception.

Zaxxon's Motherbase 2000 was released for the Sega 32X in 1995. It is the only Zaxxon game to use full 3D graphics. The game bore the Zaxxon brand only in the United States, as the Japanese version was named Parasquad and the European version was named Motherbase.

  1. Zaxxon (1982)
  2. Super Zaxxon (1982)
  3. Zaxxon 3D (1987)
  4. Zaxxon's Motherbase 2000 (1995)

Zaxxon was the first game reviewed on the YouTube channel Classic Game Room on February 28, 2008.

Board game[]

In 1982, Milton Bradley made a Zaxxon board game.[9]

Tabletop and handheld games[]

In 1982 Sega released Zaxxon as a tabletop game and a handheld version as well.[10] Bandai[11] and Coleco[12] also released Zaxxon handheld games.

Remakes and clones[]

In 1987's Panther one had to rescue men and avoid enemy ships in a same isometric 3d-view game.[13]

The 2003 Retro Remakes competition produced clones for Linux and Windows.[14]

Similar games[]

  • Future Spy was created by Sega in 1984. This game uses the same hardware as Zaxxon and has very similar game play but with a more realistic military theme.[15]
  • Hostile All Terrain Encounter (H.A.T.E.) is a Zaxxon clone developed by Vortex Software for several 8bit and 16bit computers and published by Gremlin Graphics in 1989.
  • Viewpoint was released by Sammy in 1992 for the Neo-Geo system. This game features the same 3/4 view perspective and similar gameplay as Zaxxon.[16]
  • Blue Max, a World War I flying game for the Commodore 64 and 8-bit Atari computers, had a similar isometric perspective and similar gameplay, and was described by one reviewer as "a souped-up version of Zaxxon." [17]


  1. Company:Ikegami Tsushinki - Game Developer Research Institute
  2. ドンキーコング裁判についてちょこっと考えてみる Thinking a bit about Donkey Kong, accessed 2009-02-01
  3. It started from Pong (それは『ポン』から始まった : アーケードTVゲームの成り立ち sore wa pon kara hajimatta: ākēdo terebi gēmu no naritachi?), Masumi Akagi (赤木真澄 Akagi Masumi?), Amusement Tsūshinsha (アミューズメント通信社 Amyūzumento Tsūshinsha?), 2005, ISBN 4-9902512-0-2.
  4. Zaxxon from the Killer List of Videogames (KLOV)
  5. Zaxxon entry from
  6. Jackson entry from CAESAR (Catalogue of Arcade Emulation Software - the Absolute Reference)
  7. Zaxxon at MobyGames
  8. December 2009 releases in Japan
  9. Zaxxon from the Great Game Database (GGDb)
  10. Handheld Zaxxon from the GGDb
  11. Bandai Zaxxon from the GGDb
  12. Coleco Zaxxon from the GGDb
  13. Panther on AtariMania. Retrieved on 2009-04-28.
  14. Gary Pankhurst. Zaxxon RetroRemake - HomePage. Retrieved on 2009-04-30
  15. Future Spy from the KLOV
  16. Viewpoint from the KLOV
  17. Analog Computing Magazine #19, June 1984

External links[]