Catalogue of Arcade Emulation Software - the Absolute Reference

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Zaxxon (set 1)

Zaxxon (c) 02/1982 Sega.

Zaxxon is a three-quarter perspective, space shooter style game. You must first go over a base on an asteroid. Things located on this base include gun implacements, fuel tanks, radar stations, missiles, and fighters. After you successfully navigate this base, you will be in space to tangle with enemy fighters and floating fuel tanks. You then will have to navigate through a series of barriers on another asteroid in order to take on Zaxxon, the enemy robot. After you do this, the cycle begins anew. Sitting behind a desk pushing paper never looked so good.


There were two different dedicated cabinets available for Zaxxon, an upright and a cocktail :

* The upright version came in a nice woodgrain cabinet with black and blue sticker style sideart. The marquee is a blue 'Zaxxon' logo with a star filled background. The control panel has a nice 8-Way flight stick with fire buttons on either side, and graphics explaining how to play the game. Finally the upright uses two sets of coin mechs that are of an odd 'skinny' style.

* The cocktail version came in the standard Sega/Gremlin cocktail table (this same table was also used for "Frogger", "Carnival", and several other titles). This was a relatively unadorned machine, the only decorations were a set of instruction cards underneath the glass. This machine had a control panel on either side and used Wico balltop joysticks instead of flight sticks.

All versions used a vertical open frame monitor, and ran the same set of game boards. This game is fully compatible with "Congo Bongo", "Super Zaxxon", and "Future Spy" (those boards will plug right in without modification).

Main CPU : Z80 (@ 3.04125 Mhz)

Sound Chips : Discrete circuitry

Screen orientation : Vertical

Video resolution : 224 x 256 pixels

Screen refresh : 60.00 Hz

Palette colors : 256

Players : 2

Control : 8-way joystick

Buttons : 1 (FIRE)


At the time of its release, Zaxxon was unique as it was the first game to employ isometric projection, something of a three-quarters viewing perspective. This effect simulated three dimensions (albeit from the viewpoint of a second person).

In the game, Zaxxon is the name of the enemy robot who you must destroy. Milton Bradley turned this and other Sega titles into board games. 'Can You Complete Your Mission Before Zaxxon Zaps You?'.

Vernon Kalanikaus holds the official official record for this game with 4,680,740 points on 03/15/1982.

A Zaxxon unit appears in the 1983 movie 'WarGames'.

A bootleg of this game is known as "Jackson".


Gun Implacements (Green and Gray) : 200 or 500 points (random)

Fuel Tank : 500 points

Radar Tower : 1000 points

Missile (Ground-to-Air) : 150 points

Missile (Air-to-Air) : 200 points

Fighters (on runway) : 50 points

Fighters (in air) : 100 points + (50 points/level after level 2)

Zaxxon (destroyed with missile in launcher) : 1000 points

Zaxxon (destroying launched missile) : 200 points

Destroying all planes in space : 1000 points

Satellite : 300 points


* To kill the robot at the end of every second level, fly at 2 1/2 units (in other words, with two blocks of your altimeter filled in and one at halfway). Shoot 6 shots at the robot's missile, and you will kill it quickly. If you miss, either dodge the missile, or keep firing and you can still blow up the missile. However, you get less points for hitting the missile while it's in the air.

* Flying at an altitude of 1 1/2 will allow you to hit ground targets while making their shots go harmlessly under you.

* Shoot airplanes on the ground : it will reduce the number you need to kill in the space scene. If you shoot all the airplanes in space you will get a bonus.

* On the levels in outer space, start up the highest point on the upper left and start shooting immediately. You should be able to hit the satellite right away. If you miss, keep moving to the left and keep firing. This works for the second satellite also.

* This is important in later levels because it is possible to run out of fuel in space : if you hit the satellite, you will get some back.

* There are only two levels that repeat. The first air fortress level never gets much harder : use the same pattern for it. On the other levels, only the gaps become narrower.

* Always keep firing! This way you can see if you will make it through the gaps, and you can adjust your height as needed.

* The white canopy only indicates that the enemy plane is at the highest altitude. At any altitude, when an enemy is in your line of fire you will hear a tone and a white X appears in front of your plane. This makes it much easier to grab the 1,000 point bonus for destroying 20 enemy planes, as well as to avoid their shots.

* On later levels you will lose fuel quickly. Make sure you hit as many fuel tanks as possible. If you run out of fuel you will lose a ship.


1. Zaxxon (1982)

2. Super Zaxxon (1982)

3. Zaxxon 3-D (1987, Sega Master System)

4. Zaxxon Motherbase 2000 (1995, Sega 32X)


* Consoles :

Colecovision (1982)

Atari 2600 (1982)

Mattel Intellivision (1983)

Atari 5200 (1984)

Atari XEGS

Sega SG-1000 (1985)

Sony PlayStation 2 (2006, "Sega Genesis Collection")

* Computers :

Tandy Color Computer (1983)

Apple II (1983)

Atari 800 (1984)

PC [Booter] (1984)

Commodore C64 (1984)

MSX (1985)

Sinclair ZX Spectrum (1985)

PC [MS-DOS] (1985)

Amstrad CPC (1986, "Zaxx")

* Others :

VFD handheld game (1981) released by Coleco : one of the coolest handheld arcade conversion, Coleco's Zaxxon uses a unique combination of mirrors and 2 different VFD displays to get a 3-D affect. Your ship appears to be flying above the surface of the planet and actually flies over walls and other VFD generated images (not possible with just one VFD display). The planet's surface and ground based enemies are created by one VFD, while you and air-based enemies are created by the VFD reflected off a mirror.

LCD handheld game (1982) released by Bandai : it's a cool double panel LCD game (there are two LCD panels on top of each other). The dual panel creates a kind of 3D effect with lower objects on one panel, and higher ones on the other. Also, all of the background images are created by the LCD and animated. It's quite impressive for an LCD game (and a must have if you love Zaxxon!).

VFD handheld game (19??) released by Bandai : this game has a unique way of creating a 3-D effect - it only uses 1 VFD display (unlike Coleco's Zaxxon which uses two). The VFD is basically split in two, the upper half you see as the lower part of the playing field, while the lower part of the VFD is reflected on a semi-transparent mirror to create the upper half of the 3-D playing space.. Pretty cool idea to help, and it really works in that all of the ships (not just the players ship like on the Coleco version) have a true depth. It's a little awkward to play sometimes as you have to sit just right to get all of the screen centered perfectly, but once you are in position, it's a very nice version of Zaxxon. It features the planes in space mode, and the flying over land mode.. The only thing that seems to be missing is the actual Zaxxon boss at the end...


F.A.Q. by Kevin Butler A.K.A. War Doc