Zaxxon Escape Review
- Follows on thematically from the originals; doesn't feel conceptually out of place.
- Sharp visual design; nails the claustrophobic sense of flying through a self-destructing ship.
- Needing to spin your iDevice completely is a handful and potentially hazardous.
- No initial bonus provided for the cost of entry; handed a blank slate with minimal income similar to a freemium title - mixes its income models to ill effect.
Zaxxon Escape may be a logical continuation of the classic Arcade title, but aside from its shiny spaceship based theme it brings little to the table you can't already get in free Temple Run style games.
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As Arcade games go, Zaxxon by SEGA remains milestone in gaming history thanks to its many firsts - not the least of which was the introduction of 'axonometric projections' to create a sort-of holographic 3D effect. Thankfully it's 2012 now and 3D effects are the least of our worries, so SEGA have dug up their classic title to give it Temple Run-like shake-up.
It's here that things start to feel a bit worrying - avoiding hazards has always been a staple in the original isometric shoot'em-up, forcing players to balance their efforts between evasion and offense. Zaxxon Escape pulls the plug on the second half, reducing combat to the occasional tap to blow up barriers, an enemy or two, and power-ups. As for the rest of the controls? I hope you like flipping your iDevice.
Tilting can be a wonderful way of giving the player a visceral way to engage with the game in front of them - at first this is also true of Zaxxon as you twist your iDevice to rotate the ship you're flying. However, obstacles regularly force (or at least strongly nudge) you towards rotating your device completely, forcing you to juggle it between your hands - one fumble and you might be explaining why your screen is cracked to someone at an Apple store.
One thing Zaxxon Escape doesn't fumble is the presentation - story-wise you've just blown up a massive space station and now you're making your exit before being engulfed in flames. The sprawling and varied designs of the station make for great eye-candy, especially when ducking and weaving through obstacles - in this regard its design feels flawless.
However, ultimately the game is just another Temple Run title, complete with swipe-based path selection. Upgrades cover the same basics as well, though the amount of coins you can earn in a single run is limited, making the initial purchase feel altogether too harsh as you grind to make any serious progress.
In the end it comes down to whether you don't mind flipping your iDevice to play a spaceship-themed version of a game you probably already own.