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Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From StrategyWiki, the free strategy guide and walkthrough wiki

Zaxxon is a simple four-part space shootout, but it's three-dimensional appearance and colorful graphics make it stand out from other similar games of its time. The three-dimensional movement of your Fighter Ship is unique and difficult to control at first. Once you can maneuver the ship well enough, you can begin to develop "patterns" for each of the four sections. When you can anticipate what is ahead of you and position your ship accordingly, you'll have no problem with any of the enemies. Zaxxon should be played aggressively, especially on the two platforms. The space section is the most difficult and survival is more important than points. Destroying the Robot is easiest with the proper positioning.

Good Zaxxon strategy means good flying abilities. A general strategy is to stay low when you're on the Space Platform and change altitude often when in outer space. If you consider Zaxxon an obstacle course, you basically understand the game. The following strategies will help to get you think about the game's design.


First Platform

Fire at the wall the gauge your position

The ground targets are always in the same place on the platforms. The only changes are the spaces in the walls. They get smaller as you advance to higher levels, and also change position. Most players know that firing shots will show you where you ship is headed. This is fine for beginners, but don't depend on looking at you shots on the higher rounds. You have to learn to position your ship just by looking at it in relation to other objects. If you can do that, you can position your ship quickly and have more time to shoot everything and still get through the walls. There are two ways that your ship can be destroyed. The underground rockets come up through holes in the platform, and the ground cannons shoot you. Running out of fuel or crashing into something shouldn't be a problem after some practice. One simple trick can keep you from crashing into the ground targets.


Flying over Walls

You'd better learn to navigate over Walls if you want to succeed at Zaxxon. Although you'll probably collide with one during your first few games, a little foresight will ensure accurate and consistent passage over all Walls. Always shoot at the Walls and Forcefields to observe where your shots are hitting. Adjust your position by this observation and then fly through the gap the the top of the Wall and below the Forcefield. This gets trickier as the game progresses, but test fire should ensure safe passage. When your shots continue on past the Wall and the Forcefield without exploding against either one, you're on course.

Outer space

Satellites are bonus points and appear twice

After you clear the last wall of the first platform, you head into space to battle the Fighter Planes. Most of the Planes move in set patterns, but some track your ship and try to shoot it or crash into it. You should try to get out of the space section as quickly as possible by shooting the required number of Planes for the 1,000 point bonus. The first four Planes move in a formation. You can shoot them on the bottom of the screen. Just after clearing the last wall, move down to the bottom right corner. Move left about an inch and start shooting. The first Satellite comes out just after the four Planes. Shoot it as you move up to the top of the screen. Stay near the center so you have all four direction to move if necessary. The ship reacts slowly, so you have to prevent the smart Planes from trapping you in the corners. Once they shoot at you, you have to move immediately to give yourself enough time to escape. If you shoot most of the formation Planes, you can end the section quickly without being in danger. Later on, Planes will start entering the screen from behind you. Move to the side and let them come out. If you follow behind the last Planes, you can shoot them while they're still going backwards.


You must learn to survive the dogfight in outer space without loss of your ship. If you destroy 20 Fighter Planes, you're awarded 1,000 bonus points. This count includes any grounded Planes that you may have destroyed before you reach outer space. By all means, destroy the Fighter Planes. It is usually good strategy to change altitude immediately after hitting one to avoid being hit by its final shot.

Second platform

If your shots pass through, you're safe

The second platform is much the same as the first one, only much easier. There aren't any underground rockets, which were the only real obstacle in the first platform. Use the same technique of staying just below the second height line. Be sure you hit all of the fuel so you have enough to kill the Robot. You should be able to hit just about everything on the ground. With no rockets to worry about, you only have to avoid crashing into the walls. In the second platform, you have to fly through small spaces in the walls. Once you know where the space will be before you can see it, you can plan ahead and avoid a last second attempt at getting through. It is easier to see your shots reflecting off the bricks rather than the forcefield, so you should always start below the space and shoot off the walls. After you clear the last wall, there are three fuel tanks before the Robot. You should be able to hit all three so you have enough fuel to kill Zaxxon.

Respect Forcefields

Forcefields are dangerous. High point targets are often inconveniently placed just after the Forcefield. Therefore, you must learn to make quick sharp turns immediately after passing a Forcefield in order to maneuver into position to hit these targets. On later screens, beware of horizontally firing Guns which are designed to thwart such maneuvers.


Destroy the Cruise Missile before it destroys you

The Robot signals the end of a round. It is somewhat of a letdown since it's the easiest part of the game. The Robot always appears on the screen in the same spot, so you can be waiting for him. Put your ship 2½ segments up on the height gauge and in the middle of the second hexagon from the left. Start firing as the Robot comes onto the screen and you can score a few quick hits on the Missile. Then just follow the movement of the Robot, keeping a steady stream of shots going towards the Missile. You have to hit it a total of six times to destroy it. You should be able to destroy it before it's launched every time. If it is launched, it lines up directly in front of your ship and flies straight at you. As long as you've hit it a few times early, you still have time to destroy it by firing as fast as you can. After you destroy the Robot, you earn a flag and advance to the next round. If you earn enough flags, the game stops showing them and pleads with you to give up. It really makes you feel like you've beaten the game when it wants you to give up. Have no mercy, keep racking up those points.

Defeating Zaxxon

Confrontation with the Robot occurs on the second wave, the fourth wave, and so on. Your prime objective is to destroy the Robot's Cruise Missile. You get 1,000 points if the Missile is destroyed while still in its launching site in the Robot; 200 points if it's already launched. It takes 6 shots to destroy the Cruise Missile. Start firing as soon as the Robot appears. The Missile is located at a height of about 2½ marks on your Altimeter. As when negotiating safe passage over the Walls, fire constantly and gauge your position by where the shots are exploding against the indestructible Robot. Caution: If the Missile is launched, nail it. It is impossible to avoid. You must destroy it. If you don't destroy it, watch out: You're one dead pilot.


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