The Game: Zoom being the operative word here, your mission – as space hero Buck Rogers – is to fly in close quarters with all kinds of enemy ships, landers and structures, fending off their attacks, and generally staying alive as long as possible. Obligatory robot wisecracks and utterances of “beedy-beedy-beedy” not included. (Sega, 1982)
Memories: Debuting in arcades a mere two years after the exit of the popular but troubled Buck Rogers TV series, Sega’s coin-op had no real connection with it. If anything, the enemy ships and architecture in Planet Of Zoom are a bit more art deco, suggesting the comic book roots of Buck Rogers. Sega later ported the game to a few home consoles, and while the player’s ship in those games seemed to hearken back to the sleek fighters of the TV series, it was more likely a case of simplifying the arcade game’s fancy rocketship.
Visually, Buck Rogers is still a stunner, the next logical step in Sega’s parade of pioneering 3D games (a pantheon which includes Space Odyssey, Zaxxon and Turbo). The graphics are fast-moving and well-rendered, amazingly colorful, and really add a unique flavor to the game. Even though Sega’s own in-house engineers did the various home console editions, they had a very hard time approximating the game’s look; most of the time they seemed to settle on just doing the planet surface screen, which was a simple plane with approacing objects, and not the more daunting “trench” battle.