The Game: As the pilot of a lone fighter infiltrating a spaceborne fortress, your mission is simple – survive long enough to vanquish the evil Super Zaxxon robot hidden deep within the fortress, and take out as much of the defenses as you can in the meantime. (Sega, 1985)
Memories: Just as Super Zaxxon in the arcades was merely a rewrite of the code for the original Zaxxon, it’s somehow fitting that the same is true for Super Zaxxon on the Apple II. But while it may have saved Sega some development time to reuse the code from Datamost’s version of Zaxxon for the Apple, it didn’t exactly result in a satisfying gaming experience.
Where the original Apple edition of Zaxxon was almost as fast as the arcade game, Super Zaxxon is frustratingly slow. That’s not the only frustrating thing about it, either. Sega’s attempt to make this game’s graphics more detailed seems to be part of the problem: the gun turrets, radar dishes, fuel tanks, etc. all appear to be graphical “tiles,” and they stick out like a sore thumb. The game moves like a sloth doing the backstroke through the La Brea Tar Pits. It took so several minutes to crawl through the first fortress in this game, and during that time, I was getting frustrated enough with it that I almost walked away from the game.
Worse yet, the red “deck plating” detail on the fortress floors completely masks any incoming fire from the fortress’ ground defenses. I walked straight into an oncoming shot so many times…well…I almost walked away from the game. The deck plating is red. The laser fire is red. You can probably figure out the rest from there.
And this is on an Apple IIc – for playing Apple games, this should be a top-of-the-line machine that can run this game at full speed. Oh – wait. It is running the game at full speed. It’s not like trying to play Pentium III games on a 486 and watching the game just crawl. The whole thing was slapped together haphazardly from the word “go,” and leave me wanting to – you guessed it – walk away from the game.
Actually, better yet, it makes me appreciate Zaxxon in its original form on the Apple II even more. I file Super Zaxxon under “why the hell didn’t they write their own code?” – not one of Sega’s finest early hours in the home gaming business.