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Zaxxon 3D

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Released: 1987

Genre: Shoot-'em-up

Format reviewed: Sega Master System

Publisher: Sega

Developer: Sega

Back in the early Nineties, Sega and Nintendo did something that console manufacturers rarely do today – they retained their old hardware as a budget alternative to their flagship consoles. What that meant was that the trusty Master System became the console of choice at my primary school, as parents had seen a cheaper box bearing Sonic’s face and leapt at it. Borrowing games from friends was an everyday activity as a result, and so it was that I came to experience Zaxxon 3D. In fact, that’s how I came to own it – it’s been at least 20 years, so I don’t think I’m ever getting Gauntlet back.

The original Zaxxon’s key appeal was the addition of depth, thanks to its isometric perspective, and Sega evidently thought that a new rear view take on the game would serve to show off its 3D glasses well. Of course the 3D glasses were a discontinued rarity which wouldn’t have worked with my Master System II, forcing me to play in 2D mode. The game becomes an exercise in frustration in this mode though, as without any sense of depth it is quite difficult to line up with enemies. As you can imagine, my interest in the game faded quickly.

But not too long ago, I finally acquired my own pair of 3D glasses and was inspired to take the game off the shelf for the first time in years. To my surprise, it was actually fun! It’s not the most spectacular shoot-’em-up, but I certainly gained a new respect for the game when I played it as it was meant to be experienced.

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