The Arcade Video Game by SEGA Enterprises, Ltd. See Timeline

Zaxxon screenshot


[Coin-Op] Arcade Video Game

Zaxxon © 1982 Sega.

Zaxxon is an isometric scrolling shoot-em-up in which the player pilots an armed spaceship and must penetrate heavily-fortified enemy bases, destroying enemy ships and installations before reaching the final confrontation with a giant armoured robot.

The game consists of three different waves:

* Floating Fortress: Players must penetrate the fortress's defences, destroying fuel tanks, gun emplacements, missiles and fighters. An altimeter constantly monitors the player ship's height, necessary to navigate through the walls and electronic barriers that form part of fortress's defences. The player's ship carries a limited amount of fuel that is constantly depleting and can only be replenished by shooting ground-based enemy fuel tanks. If the ship's fuel runs out, it crashes to the ground and a life is lost.

* Fighter Fleet: This takes place in outer-space with the player attacked by waves of enemy fighters and rogue satellites. The player ship's fuel does not deplete during this wave.

* Enemy Headquarters: This is similar to the 'Floating Fortress' wave (with fuel depletion once again being an issue), but with the player facing much tougher defences. Upon completion of this wave, the player enters into battle with a giant armoured robot. The robot fires fast-moving homing missiles and needs to be hit six times before it's destroyed. Upon completion of the third wave, the game starts over with a higher level of difficulty.


Zaxxon Arcade Video Game
Click to enlarge
(members only)
There were 2 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 : Zilog Z80 (@ 3.04125 Mhz)
Sound Chips : Discrete circuitry

Screen orientation : Vertical
Video resolution : 224 x 256 pixels
Screen refresh : 59.999408 Hz
Palette colors : 256

Players : 2
Control : 8-way joystick
Buttons : 1 (FIRE)


Released during January 1982. 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 March 15, 1982.

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

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


Zaxxon was released in at least 2 versions :
The latest version (set 1 in MAME (zaxxon)) corrects a minor error in the way the original zaxxon rom set (set 2 in MAME (zaxxon2)) managed fractions of a credit, seen only when a player earned credit through game play when the game dipswitch settings provided only a fraction of a full credit for each token inserted.


Gun Implacements (Green and Gray) : 200 or 500 points (random)
Fuel Tank : 300 points
Radar Tower : 1,000 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) : 1,000 points
Zaxxon (destroying launched missile) : 200 points
Destroying all planes in space : 1,000 points
Satellite : 300 points


• To kill Zaxxon, 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 Zaxxon'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 platform : 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, Arcade)
2. Super Zaxxon (1982, Arcade)
3. Zaxxon 3-D (1987, Master System)
4. Zaxxon Motherbase 2000 (1995, Sega 32X)
5. Zaxxon Escape (2012, Google Play)



Colecovision usa (1982) "Zaxxon [Model 2435]"
Atari 2600 usa (1982) "Zaxxon [Model 2454]"
Mattel Intellivision usa (1983) "Zaxxon [Model 2487]"
Atari 5200 usa (1984) "Zaxxon [Model 008-02]"
Atari XEGS
Sega SG-1000 japan (1985) "Zaxxon [Model G-1038]"
DynaVision brazil (198?) Zaxxon
Sony PlayStation 2 usa (November 7, 2006) as an unlockable extra in "Sega Genesis Collection [Model SLUS-21542]"
Sony PlayStation 2 europe (February 2, 2007) as an unlockable extra in "Sega Mega Drive Collection [Model SLES-54333]"
Sony PlayStation 2 [AU] (February 8, 2007) as an unlockable extra in "Sega Mega Drive Collection"
Microsoft XBOX 360 usa (February 10, 2009) as an unlockable extra in "Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection [Model 68034]"
Sony PlayStation 3 korea (February 10, 2009) as an unlockable extra in "Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection" by SCEI
Sony PlayStation 3 usa (February 10, 2009) as an unlockable extra in "Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection [Model BLUS-30259]"
Microsoft XBOX 360 europe (February 20, 2009) as an unlockable extra in "SEGA Mega Drive Ultimate Collection [Model 384-40210]"
Sony PlayStation 3 europe [AU] (February 20, 2009) as an unlockable extra in "SEGA Mega Drive Ultimate Collection [Model BLES-00475]"
Microsoft XBOX 360 [AU] (February 26, 2009) as an unlockable extra in "Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection"
Nintendo Wii [Virtual Console Arcade] japan (December 15, 2009)
Nintendo Wii [Virtual Console Arcade] europe [AU] (March 10, 2010)
Nintendo Wii [Virtual Console Arcade] usa (April 12, 2010)


Tandy Color Computer usa (1983)
Apple II usa (1983)
Atari 800 usa (1984) "Zaxxon [Model 008-03]"
PC [Booter] (1984)
Commodore C64 europe (1984)
Commodore C64 usa (1984) "Zaxxon [Model 008-05]"
MSX europe japan (1985)
Sinclair ZX Spectrum europe (1985)
PC [MS-DOS] usa (1985)
Amstrad CPC europe (1986) "Zaxx"


VFD handheld game usa (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 usa (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 usa (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...
BlackBerry usa (December 21, 2009) "Zaxxon [Model 5341]"


Game's ROM.
Game's picture.
F.A.Q. by Kevin Butler A.K.A. War Doc
Details of the code analysis can be views at

Page last modified on September 25, 2015