Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom

Platforms: Apple II, Arcade, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit, Coleco Adam, ColecoVision, Commodore VIC-20, IBM PC/Compatibles, TI-99/4A


Main Genre:
Sci-Fi / Futuristic
Gameplay Style:


Apple II version of Planet of Zoom
Apple II version of Planet of Zoom
Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom is an action game that was originally released in arcades by SEGA in December 1982. It was later ported to several home computer and game consoles. The game is a forward moving rail shooter where players need to dodge obstacles and destroy numerous attacking opponents. The game is very loosely inspired by the Buck Rogers series of comic strips, movies, and other media; Buck, however, is not directly visible within the game itself and is only in the box or arcade cabinet artwork and in the game title.


Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom features a third-person perspective view of the Buck Roger's fighter ship from behind as the screen continually scrolls forward. The fighter can speed up or slow down a limited amount, move across the screen left and right, and move up and down a limited amount, however it can never come to a full stop. The goal is to destroy a mother ship at the end of four rounds of gameplay before running out of fuel. The faster a player flies, the less fuel is consumed so attempting to complete levels as fast as possible without crashing is often necessary. If fuel run out, the fighter ship crashes on the planet surface and a life is lost. Players begin the game with a limited number of ships and the game ends when all ships have been destroyed. Earning bonus ships is possible after reaching certain point thresholds.

Each level in the game is broken up into four rounds; on each round except the final one, there are a series of electron posts the player can fly through. If the player crashes into a post a life is lost, and starting after level 1 if a player flies outside of the posts electron pulsars are fired at the player from behind which may be difficult to avoid. As the levels progress, the electron posts become spaced closer together, and also enemies become more numerous and more aggressive.

Enemies, Aliens, and Scoring

Along the journey to the mother ship numerous waves of enemies appear that attempt to stop the player's progress. There are several types of enemies and aliens encountered, each with different attack patterns. Opponents that appear are:
  • Electron Posts: Posts appear in pairs and form a path that, ideally, the player needs to follow. The fighter ship explodes when colliding with a post, and on levels after the first one flying outside of the posts causes electron pulsars to be fired at the ship.
  • Alien Saucers: Crashing into the fast-moving saucers causes Buck's ship to explode. They increase in speed and accuracy as the game progresses.
  • Space Hoppers: Bounce around the screen and explode on impact. On some rounds space hoppers also fire at the player.
  • The Mother Ship: Appears on the final round of each level and is difficult to destroy. Shots fired directly at the center will cause damage, shots the miss the center ricochet off of it.
Points are earned for destroying enemies, the mother ship, and flying between electron posts. Alien saucers earn 200 points, space hoppers 300 points, electron posts 500 points, and destroying the mother ship awards 20,000 points plus additional fuel.


Platform: Arcade
Program by: Hideki Ishikawa
Security by: Masatoshi Mizunaga
Platform: Atari 5200
Programmed by: Ken Jordan
Platform: Atari 8-bit
Programmed by: Ken Jordan


Click on a picture below to view a larger version.
Arcade Version
Cockpit variation
Arcade Version
Upright cabinet


Instruction Manual
Atari 2600
Instruction Manual
Atari 5200


Product catalogs, magazines, flyers, or other documentation Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom has appeared in.
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Instruction Manual Advertisements
Advertisement in the Atari 5200 Zaxxon instruction manual
Buck Rogers advertisement from the IBM PC Spy Hunter instruction manual
Magazine Advertisements
1984 magazine ad