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Zaxxon

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Released: 1982

Genre: Shoot-'em-up

Format reviewed: Colecovision

Publisher: Coleco

Developer: Coleco

The Colecovision wasn’t a console with a massively long life, but it definitely made an impact during its short time on the market. Coleco correctly reasoned that the Atari 2600’s strength was in its ability to offer home versions of the most popular arcade games, so in building a competitor to the Atari 5200, it licensed every arcade hit it could get its hands on. Of course, it wouldn’t have mattered a jot if the conversions were rubbish, but the console’s powerful hardware ensured that they were relatively authentic.

A great example of this is Zaxxon, Sega’s hit isometric shoot-’em-up. The Colecovision version of the game was excellent, incorporating all of the elements that made the original arcade game great – the pseudo-3D levels, the early examples of boss fights, even the atmospheric lack of music. Was it arcade perfect? It wasn’t – sprites were a little smaller, backgrounds less detailed, and the sound effects a little less realistic. But was it better than any competing versions? It sure was – unlike the Atari 2600 and Intellivision versions, it retained the isometric stages of the original, and it managed to make it to market before the vast majority of others hit the market. If you wanted to play a great version of Zaxxon, you needed a Colecovision.

While the Colecovision’s version of Zaxxon has been surpassed since the Eighties, like many of its conversions, it’s still easy to see how the machine was appealing. All the thrills of the arcade in your own home – who wouldn’t want that?