Bringing back old franchises to cash in on new gaming crazes seems to be the way of things, and Sega is certainly on board with this trend thanks to Zaxxon Escape. A direct sequel to the arcade classic, the game takes the endless running genre out into space. Surprisingly, it’s not that bad.
The game opens up with the classic ship beating the original game and turning around to fly out of the enemy base. This is where Escape starts. The game tasks players with maneuvering through a series of obstacle-laden tunnels without crashing for as long as possible. The base is a randomly-generated maze of pipes, forcefields, new pathways, and shiny objects to grab.
The endless trip home.
Zaxxon is played by swiping, tapping, and physically turning your device. Using the accelerometer functionality of the iPhone, players rotate the ship to align with the openings in front of them. The controls are responsive and feel comfortable on an iPhone, but are cumbersome on the much larger iPad. There are also no options for non-motion based controls.
New tunnels come up regularly, requiring the player to swipe in the appropriate direction at just the right time. Occasionally, tapping on certain obstacles causes the ship to fire missiles, but mostly the game is about object avoidance.
You can’t see me.
Visually, Zaxxon Escape looks excellent. It’s somewhat retro, with a limited color scheme and texture use, and the 3D graphics are sharp and fast-paced. You can also earn coins by playing, which can be used to buy power-ups like auto-pilot, continues, and other tools for longevity. As usual, in-game currency is slow to build-up, but buying more coins is easy. The game doesn’t shove micro-transactions down the player’s throat thankfully, but certainly makes it clear it wants you spend more money.
Overall, Zaxxon Escape is fun for what it is. Making an arcade classic into an endless runner is far from our idea of a good time, but the controls work well and the game has a distinct sense of style. Zaxxon feels different than other runners thanks to its behind-the ship perspective and space-base locale. For fans of this genre, it’s definitely worth a look.