Platforms: Apple II, Arcade, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit, Coleco Adam, ColecoVision, Commodore 64, IBM PC/Compatibles, Intellivision, MSX, Sega SG-1000, TRS-80, TRS-80 Color Computer, ZX Spectrum


Main Genre:
Isometric , 3rd-Person
Gameplay Style:
Sci-Fi / Futuristic


Arcade version of Zaxxon
Arcade version of Zaxxon
Zaxxon is a scrolling shooter by SEGA Enterprises initially released in arcades in 1982 and later ported to numerous home computers and game consoles. In the game players need to fly a space craft past numerous defenses to destroy a deadly, armored robot. Zaxxon uses an isometric view to create a 3D look and was the first game to do so. Zaxxon was quite successful prompting SEGA to release a sequel, Super Zaxxon, shortly after.


In Zaxxon players control a space-fighter craft with goal of earning points by navigating through a heavily guarded fortress; The craft is able to fire forward at opponents and obstacles, however that is the only defense players have. The game screen utilizes an isometric perspective and continuously scrolls towards the right; to help players determine their ship's position in the 3D environment the game provides an altitude meter on the left side of the screen and a shadow is cast along the ground. As players fly through the fortress there are numerous defenses including enemy planes, missiles, and gun emplacements which constantly attack the player. Additional targets such as fuel tanks and radar towers are found as well and earn points if destroyed; demolishing a fuel tank will also refuel the player's ship.

Each level in Zaxxon is consists of three distinct sections:
  • First Space Fortress:
    Players need to fly past numerous defenses and can destroy many fuel tanks, guns, missiles, radar towers, and more along the way. In this section the player's ship as limited fuel which is replenished when fuel tanks are destroyed. Numerous walls and force fields are found which players need to carefully fly over or under.
  • Outer Space:
    The second section in the game takes place in outer space with numerous enemy planes attacking. There are no barriers and obstacles in the outer space areas and the player's fuel level doesn't deplete. Since there is no ground in this section, the players ship doesn't cast a shadow which can make it more difficult to determine the ships position.
  • Second Fortress and Robot Encounter:
    The final section starts off resembling the first space fortress, however this time the defenses are tougher to get past and fuel is once again a concern. At the end of the fortress is a large Zaxxon robot which must be destroyed to complete the level. Destroying the robot takes six hits and players will also need to dodge or destroy the numerous homing missiles that it fires.
If players successfully navigate all three sections the game will then repeat but with a higher level of difficulty.

Graphical Variations

Most conversions of Zaxxon feature the same isometric view as the arcade version; the Atari 2600 and Intellivision versions, however, vary and use a behind the ship view with the screen moving forwards rather than scrolling horizontally due to system limitations.
Zaxxon characters


Platform: Apple II
For the Apple computer by: John A. Garcia
Platform: Atari 5200
By: Ronald J. Fortier
Platform: Atari 8-bit
Game Programming by: Ronald J. Fortier
Assisted by: Robert A. Bobbio, Greg Hiscott, James C. Ratcliff, Mark A. White
Graphic Artist: Kelly Day
Documentation: Jean A. Stedman
Platform: TRS-80
Programmed by: Wayne Westmoreland, Terry Gilman
Platform: TRS-80 Color Computer
Programmed by: Steven R. Bjork


Click on a picture below to view a larger version.
Arcade Version


Instruction Manual
Atari 5200
Instruction Manual
Atari 8-bit
Cassette version
Instruction Manual
Atari 8-bit
5.25" disk version


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