Game Reviews

Zaxxon Escape

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| Zaxxon Escape
Zaxxon Escape
| Zaxxon Escape

Re-invention can be a tricky thing.

A seasoned pop star's transition to a new style, a new look, and a new audience can re-vitalise a stalling career. But it can just as easily end in disaster and the alienation of your existing fan-base.

Zaxxon Escape is walking just that fine line, breaking from its hardcore arcade shooter roots for something a whole lot more casually gratifying.

Has it sold out?

Run and gun

Selling out is perhaps too strong a term. Rather, Zaxxon Escape has sold its soul to the god of Temple Run, trading in twitch shooting kicks for fixed path-dodging, screen-swiping, and in-app purchased power-ups.

Regardless of how you feel about this kind of game, there's an undeniable appeal to the best examples of the genre. Just spend five minutes with Agent Dash for proof.

But Zaxxon Escape isn't as good as Agent Dash. It's more like Pitfall.

The problems start with the way the game controls. You fly a star fighter through a narrow space station trench, Star Wars-style. Tilting your iOS device left and right makes your ship bank left and right to dodge through narrow gaps, but the way the physical and digital movements relate to each other never quite matches up.

Tilting right to move right might sound, er, right, but your plane actually banks left. This consistently confuses your senses just enough to result in a fiery explosion when fractional reaction times are required.

It really feels weird whey you're presented with a helix of credits to hoover up and you find yourself twisting in completely the opposite direction.

Damn and blast it

It's not all about rotating. You also need to swipe from time to time when drastic right-angled turns are required. Yep - very Temple Run.

The trouble is, while you have to wait for the arrow icons to go green before you can swipe, it occasionally feels like your ship comes a cropper well before it should - like it's just spontaneously combusted in mid-air. Whether this is a glitch with the collision detection or just poor visual feedback, we're not sure.

Most disappointing of all is the lack of proper shooting - this is, after all, a follow-up to a seminal arcade shooter. Oh, sure, your space ship has guns, but all that's required is a vague tap of the screen when a blastable object appears on screen to dispatch it. It's not in slightest bit satisfying.

And that's the problem with Zaxxon Escape. It's just not very satisfying to play. The environments are repetitive, the controls feel wrong and the shooting is wholly inadequate.

By running away from what made the original so well-loved, Zaxxon Escape has set the series on a course for obscurity.

Zaxxon Escape

Zaxxon Escape takes a classic shoot-‘em-up property and completely changes it to a mediocre flavour-of-the-month endless-runner
Jon Mundy
Jon Mundy
Jon is a consummate expert in adventure, action, and sports games. Which is just as well, as in real life he's timid, lazy, and unfit. It's amazing how these things even themselves out.