The Game: Look out below – and above! You pilot a space fighter taking fire (and potentially kamikaze collisions) from all sides, zooming over an alien cityscape through the night sky and trying to blast your way through their inexhaustible defenses. If you succeed (and in this context, “succeed” = “survive”), you then switch from a side-scrolling perspective to a vaguely 3-D overhead view of the action as your fight zooms over a heavily defended alien fortress and then into deep space, where you’ll need to avoid black holes and comets, as well as a very likely lethal onslaught of fast-moving alien ships. If you manage to survive that, then (A) damn, you’re good, and (B) you’re going to do it all again, over a slightly different background. (Sega, 1981)
Memories: This interesting, if somewhat lesser-known, entry from Sega featured what were some eye-popping graphics for its day, but it seems unlikely that anyone played long enough to notice, since the game was so unbelievably difficult.
And arcade operators were saddled with this turkey (albeit a very easy-on-the-eyes turkey) with no options to set the difficulty level. The enemies were too fast, there were too many of them, and if you didn’t know to scoot your butt off the left side of the screen ASAP, you could easily waste a quarter in under 30 seconds.
Still, the graphics pizazz and the alien space fortress were a bit of a harbinger of Sega’s next big space hit. The foundation was laid, and the way cleared, for Zaxxon.