About the Game
How to Play

Original Release

Other Releases
Apple II
Atari 2600 (Coleco)
Atari 2600 (Nanochess)
Atari 5200
Atari 8-Bits
Commodore 64 (Synapse)
Commodore 64 (Sega)
Commodore Amiga
Commodore VIC-20
PC (DOS/Windows)
TRS-80 CoCo

Picture Galleries
Coming Soon

Screenshot Galleries
First Asteroid (1)
First Asteroid (2)
Space Dogfight
Second Asteroid (1)
Second Asteroid (2)

Video Games Go 3D

There are technical terms that define how 3-dimensional objects can be represented in, or "projected" onto two dimensions, such as in a drawing, or on a video monitor. The method used by most modern video games is called "perspective projection." Scenes are created to look like they would when viewed by the player in real life. Distant objects are smaller than nearby objects, and objects at different positions are seen from different angles. Perspective projection takes considerably more computer power, data storage, and programming know-how than the familiar 2-dimensional graphics of older arcade games, which is why 2D games remained the standard for many years. However, in the early 1980s, programmers discovered they could create graphics that look 3-dimensional, and to a certain extent even act 3-dimensional, without the complex code and other resources necessary for perspective projection. One way is to use a process called "isometric projection." The resulting graphics look 3D, but on-screen objects will always have the same size and the same angle no matter where they are in relation to each other, and so they can be created and manipulated the same way as 2D graphics. Isometric projection is actually a specific form of a process called "axonometric projection." Take part of that first word, add a Z, and you have the very first game to use this trick: Zaxxon.

Prior to the release of Zaxxon, Sega was best known for games they licensed from other companies. Moon Cresta, Frogger and Astro Fighter were among their more memorable titles, but the company actually only distributed those. Sega's own creations, games like Twin Course T.T., Monaco GP and Space Tactics, were often moderately successful, but not exactly run-away hits. That all changed in 1982, when Zaxxon reached the arcades. Entranced by the 3D graphics and game play, players pumped mountains of quarters into Sega's coffers, securing a place for both the game and the company in many video game halls of fame. Zaxxon then saw ports for many different home systems, including the ColecoVision, the first console to duplicate the arcade game's isometric graphics. Sega would later go on to even bigger success with games like OutRun and Space Harrier, and of course, Sonic the Hedgehog. Before all that, though, Sega was the house that Zaxxon built, and the game remains their most enduring title from the early '80s.