Review: Zaxxon (Atari 5200)

In this review, we give the Atari 5200 game Zaxxon our best shot. We determine if this shooter game is worth playing or not.

This game was released in 1984.

You fly a jet through an isometric plain with enemies trying to stop you.

Some of these enemies include landed ships and turret guns. The bigger obstacles, however, are likely the walls and force fields that cause your ship to blow up instantly.

On the second level, you’ll go up against fighter jets flying in the other direction. After that, you go into a more complex fortress area with even narrower paths to fly through.

A positive about this game is its simplicity. While the ship in a black backdrop is a confusing sight to see, it is possible to quickly figure out the controls and form strategies.

The downside is that all of the enemies are on the ground waiting to be blown up. The only thing they do is randomly shoot from their positions. It makes the gameplay a little bland.

Another downside is that the games difficulty goes steep rather quickly. All you need to do is reach level 3 before the games difficulty becomes apparent as you are forced to effectively fly through coin slots that yous ship is barely able to fit through. While that merely sounds challenging, in the isometric viewpoint, it is extremely difficult to judge if you have the correct height or not.

Because of the steep difficulty curve, the replay value suffered because I always knew I was going to die on level 3 anyway.

The fact that there was clearly thought put into the level does help make things more bearable in the game.

Generally speaking, the level design concepts are not bad, but with all enemies on the ground and the steep difficulty curve, it makes me want to say that this game needed more thought put into it. Because of other games that have already been released by this time, this game comes off as rather primitive in spite of the isometric style of play.

The graphics are extremely basic. The intro screen showed unnecessarily blocky letters. The players aircraft is OK, but the brick walls has a very MS paint style going for it. Enemies are fairly basic and the blackened section just makes the game feel incomplete. I don’t think the graphics really holds up for a game of its time.

There is no music or jingles. Instead, you are stuck with some basic sound effects and the aircraft’s engine. The engine is probably the only bright spot in the sound department, actually.

Overall, this game ends up being a bit on the primitive side in spite of the isometric perspective. The enemies are extremely simplistic and the difficulty curve is steep. The graphics are a little dated for a game of its time and the audio only had a decent jet engine for a positive. I’d say this game should be skipped over.

Furthest point in game:
Died on level 3

General gameplay: 15/25
Replay value: 5/10
Graphics: 4/10
Audio: 1/5

Overall rating: 50%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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