Zaxxon for the PC retains a bit of the same gameplay that made it memorable in the Arcade but loses out in the graphics and sound department. It's an acceptable alternative but not a particularly good one.
Because the game is limited to CGA graphics, you only see four colors throughout the game: black, white, magenta and cyan. The cyan is the most problematic as it's used to color vast tracts of level backgrounds. CGA cyan is a bright, almost fluorescent color that's so harsh and grating that it's difficult to look at for long periods of time. Because of this, many games tend to keep cyan usage to a minimum.
Zaxxon, however, can't avoid its usage since the original level background color in the Arcade version is blue and cyan is the only color in CGA that comes close. Another problem with the limitation of four colors is that eventually everything starts to look the same, which can, in the case of Zaxxon, make it difficult to keep track of your plane's elevation on the screen.
There's also the problem of not having any detail work on the objects in the game since there aren't enough colors to go around. Due to these design limitations, Zaxxon's graphics are ugly and terrible to look at and, seemingly, it's a flaw the designers had to be aware of but couldn't do anything about.
The game's sound effects are fairly ugly, too, if you can even classify them as sounds. Before each game, you're "treated" to a horrible shriek from your internal PC speakers. Upon closer examination, the shriek is really just one very high-pitched beep played back many times very quickly. There's no good reason why this is included and it certainly doesn't add to gameplay; in fact, it actually hurts your ears.
In-game sound effects consist of these same high-pitched beeps, although, thankfully, played singly. If you are able to disable your internal speakers, it's strongly recommended that you do so prior to playing -- it will save you a lot of ear pain.
The levels in Zaxxon aren't the same as those in the Arcade. They're essentially simplified versions with the same types of obstacles and enemies to overcome but in fewer numbers. Another gameplay change involves your ship's movement. Specifically, instead of going in a smooth continuous motion, it moves in individual discrete steps. The essence of Zaxxon is still in the PC version though -- it's just been diluted a bit.
If you have don't have access to Zaxxon in other formats, this is an acceptable alternative. Purists, however, will certainly find the game disappointing.
Graphics: Poor CGA graphics are ugly to look at and they make it difficult to effectively gauge how high your ship is flying.
Sound: Annoying, ear piercing, high-pitched screeches.
Enjoyment: Gameplay is still essentially Zaxxon despite its limitations on the PC compared to the Arcade version and is enjoyable despite some necessary modifications.
Replay Value: Average replay for a shooter.
The Zaxxon defence system must be destroyed in this isometric-viewed shoot 'em up which originated in the arcades. The game has three stages, first taking you through Asteroid City, which is heavily protected by aircraft, guns and missiles. Many barriers are alarmed, leaving you with limited space to progress through, and fire must constantly be dodged.
Stage two is a space shoot out against hordes of enemy aircraft - those you failed to destroy in the first part of the task. Complete this and you reach the final battle with Zaxxon, the game looping with increased difficulty if you can survive the first time. There are three distinct skill levels, while controls involve using forward to dive and back to climb, in the manner of flight simulation.
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