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Zaxxon Reviewed by Adam Wallace on . Rating: 64%
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  • Review Score:

  • B-
With Atari securing the rights to most of the most successful arcade games of the era, Coleco was left scavenging for whatever was left for the ColecoVision. One of Coleco's early allies in the second-gen console fight was none other than Sega. Sega had premiered an arcade shooter called Zaxxon, and Coleco felt that it had what was needed to turn console gamers away from the aging Atari 2600.

Zaxxon (ColecoVision)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Coleco was right to grab Zaxxon. Graphically, it blew away any other shooter available at the time with its angled isometric perspective and highly detailed animations. The ColecoVision made an almost perfect translation of the arcade version, a feat that was impossible on any other console at the time. I was definitely impressed with how well the arcade game was adapted to the ColecoVision.

Unfortunately, it was an unbelievable adaptation of a game that is just okay. Once the awe with the faux-3D visuals wore off, I noticed the lack of smooth scrolling. While the ship movements were quite fluid, the stage scrolling and animation for the obstacles stuttered like they were controlled by Porky Pig trying to recite the soliloquy from Hamlet. Trying to play Zaxxon for longer than thirty minutes gave me a headache with all the efficiency of the Virtual Boy.

Zaxxon (ColecoVision)Click For the Full Picture Archive

I would have to give props to Zaxxon for being the first 3D space combat game. All other scrolling shooters of the time scrolled horizontally, vertically, or, in the case of Vanguard, diagonally; however, control was strictly on a two-dimensional plane. With the way Zaxxon was laid out, maneuvering is done on the x- and y-axis while the screen scrolled on the z-axis. I definitely applaud how the stages were set up with that in mind. There are several points where diving and pulling up had to done as often as shifting from side to side to avoid the slew of obstructions and enemies, creating a unique shooter experience.

Zaxxon was a game that was way ahead of its time. It was clear that Sega wanted to make a bold stride into 3D, but technology wasn't there yet. It was also clear that Coleco wanted to show that they had the only second-gen console that could do Zaxxon justice, and they succeeded at that. Unfortunately, the end result is a game that impresses me in some ways but was irritating to play. It's an okay addition to the ColecoVision library; I just wish I could appreciate the whole instead of just the parts.
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