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Buy on Apple II
Buy on Atari 5200
Buy on Commodore 64
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Description official descriptions

The Zaxxon defense system must be destroyed in this isometric-viewed shoot 'em up. The game has three stages, first taking you through Asteroid City, which is heavily protected by aircraft, guns, and missiles. Many barriers are alarmed, leaving you with limited space to progress through, and fire must constantly be dodged.

Stage two is a space shoot out against hordes of enemy aircraft - those you failed to destroy in the first part of the task. Complete this and you reach the final battle with Zaxxon, the game looping with increased difficulty if you can survive the first time. There are three distinct skill levels, while controls involve using forward to dive and back to climb, in the manner of flight simulation.


  • アクソン - Japanese spelling

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Credits (Apple II version)



Average score: 80% (based on 17 ratings)


Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 101 ratings with 2 reviews)

A damn fine game.

The Good
It's great - the graphics are excellent for a CGA game, the controls are OK and it's really fun. And all that in 20k!

The Bad
Well, it's long and very challenging.

The Bottom Line
A good shoot-'em-up for the XT.

PC Booter · by Tomer Gabel (4539) · 1999

Pioneer in isometric perspective...

The Good
Zaxxon, one of the first games to feature isometric perspective, was released on ColecoVision platform. And it's a nice game! Besides nice graphics (is it needed to explain why?), ColecoVision's version had nice sound effects and gameplay. One of the best coin-op conversions for ColecoVision!

The Bad
ColecoVision's version was harder than other Zaxxon coin-op conversions.

The Bottom Line
A nice game! Recommended. Play Zaxxon, specially in Colecovision or Commodore 64, and enter the pseudo-3D spacial adventure waiting for you!

ColecoVision · by Gustavo Henrique dos Santos (97) · 2014


Cancelled ports

  • Advertisements by U.S. Gold for upcoming Amstrad CPC conversions also included Zaxxon, but no such port was released.
  • The German magazine Telematch mentioned a Ti-99/4A version in their Zaxxon review in issue 04/1983. According to their own accord in issue 07/1983, they saw a prototype, but it was cancelled because of license issues between Datasoft and Texas Instruments.

Commodore 64 licensing

Synapse's C64 license deal for Zaxxon was actually the result of a dodgy scheme set up by one of SEGA's own lawyers, Robert Crane. It involved setting up his own company called Universal Licensing, which managed to get the Zaxxon license, despite not being able to manufacture disks or pay licensing fees. One of his friends, Brian Depew, posed as Universal's general counsel, while Crane was using a pseudonym during the process of sublicensing the game to Synapse. He was actually writing to himself from Universal to SEGA. He also set up a deal later that granted Hesware the rights for Super Zaxxon. Eventually, the whole thing was discovered and a settlement agreement reached.

    Sources: The case is described in Lawyers on Trial: Understanding Ethical Misconduct by Richard L. Abel. A shorter summary can also be found in the Entertainment Law Reporter, April 1991 issue.

Commodore 64 versions

There are two different, official ports of Zaxxon for the Commodore 64. Sega released the game on cartridge and Synapse Software released it on disk and cassette. Of the two, most people tend to agree that the Synapse version is superior. While the cartridge version's graphics are somewhat more faithful to the arcade original, the gameplay and sound aren't as polished as the Synapse version.


John Garcia was actually in management at Datasoft when Zaxxon was written.

Telematch charts

In issue 06/1983 of the German magazine Telematch, the non-existing Ti-99/4A version of Zaxxon reached number one of the Readers' Choice charts. The responsible employee was fired. More information about the Ti-99/4A version under "cancelled ports".


The curious moniker "Zaxxon" is derived, circuitously, from "isometric axonometric projection", its early 2.5D perspective which it is credited with being the first game to use.


  • TeleMatch
    • Issue 04/1984 – #2 Video Game of the Year 1983 (Readers' Vote)
  • Zzap!
    • May 1985 (Issue 1) - #54 'It's the Zzap! 64 Top 64!'

Information also contributed by John Romero

Related Games

Super Zaxxon
Released 1984 on PC Booter, Commodore 64, Apple II...
Zaxxon 3-D
Released 1987 on SEGA Master System

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Tomer Gabel.

Wii added by Charly2.0. ColecoVision, Commodore 64 added by PCGamer77. Atari 5200 added by RKL. SG-1000 added by Sciere. Coleco Adam added by Kabushi. MSX, TRS-80, ZX Spectrum, Atari 8-bit added by Martin Smith. Arcade added by Pseudo_Intellectual. Apple II added by Servo. TRS-80 CoCo added by L. Curtis Boyle.

Additional contributors: Alaka, Martin Smith, Pseudo_Intellectual, Rekrul, Trypticon, Patrick Bregger, Rwolf, FatherJack, robMSX.

Game added November 10th, 1999. Last modified August 17th, 2023.