Zaxxon is one of the early Arcade shootem ups which made it on to many home computers and consoles. What makes Zaxxon stand out from other titles of the time is its strange view point which is neither horizontal or vertical, as is the norm, but goes diagonally across the screen. As your joystick is meant for the two normal axis it can confuse the mind for a while as you view your ship from the wrong angle. Once that is settled in your head though, you get to play a great but very tough game.

The first thing you need to do once you can control the ship is navigate through a cut out in a wall and then get down and lined up to shoot the barrels below. The unusual viewing perspective really does complicate this the first few times as lining up is just alien from this view. Anyway you’re then skimming the ground to shoot out the fuel barrels and alien bases dotted along the level, always minding out for the walls and occasional rockets which launch out of the ground.

By the end of the first level you will hopefully be used to the view and able to avoid what needs to be avoided and shoot that which needs to be shot, but then it all gears up a notch. You now have planes coming at you too, and they shoot at you as well, so you have to dodge shots, fire back and keep an eye on your fuel level as the higher you go the more power and fuel you need. Oh yeah I forgot to mention that didn’t I, the fuel meter along the bottom is critical to keep one eye on or you’ll crash and burn if you run out.

Keep killing planes, then flying saucers, top up your fuel by shooting out the barrels, and you’re really getting somewhere. Right up until the big boss comes along, shooting rockets, lasers and everything else in his armory at you while you try to dodge and shoot to end his threat to your survival. And so it continues, tough terrain, tough enemies and tough bosses to tackle while watching your fuel level  and avoiding the walls.  That’s Zaxxon.

The ColecoVision console saw a few good arcade conversions, and Zaxxon can be counted among them. The sound effects are definitely par for the era the console was in it’s heyday, and the 8 bit graphics follow the Arcade version as I recall it. There are other ports of Zaxxon and some may be better graphically or have better sounds but the gameplay of Zaxxon on the ColecoVision is exactly what you’d want from any game on any console, too difficult for me to go far even with 5 lives, but challenging enough to make me want to try again.  Score from me is 8/10

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