The original Zaxxon came out 30 years ago and its taken this long for fans to get a sequel. (We're not going to count Super Zaxxon.) So after 30 years, was it worth the wait?

In the original Zaxxon, you piloted a ship that was on a mission to destroy a space fortress protected by a giant robot known as Zaxxon. Not only did you go up against robots and other ships, but you also had to fight the altitude. If you were too low or too high and not at the right angle, you were dead. None of those unique features from the original carry over to Zaxxon Escape. Instead, we're left with another endless runner that does nothing new but frustrate.

Before we get to the title screen, you see your ship blow up the center of the asteroid city fortress. Now you've got to try and escape before the explosion takes you out. Zaxxon Escape's perspective is behind the ship, and you rotate your way down endless corridors, trying not to hit a wall. The controls in Zaxxon Escape are terrible. You have to use your iPhone or iPad's gyroscope to steer your ship. Which means holding each side with one hand and twisting like crazy just to try and avoid the numerous obstacles in your way. It's idiotic.

I couldn't tell you how many times I died because I wasn't made of rubber and couldn't get my arms to twist my iPad 360 degrees just to avoid the walls that appear. There are no optional touch controls either. You're stuck using the gyroscope. When you get to the end of a corridor, you see red arrows. Swipe in the direction you feel like going when the arrows turn green. If a power-up or wall gets in your way, tap the screen to fire a missile to get the power-up or destroy the wall.

Tapping the screen to fire is hit and miss. Sometimes I would tap like crazy and my ship would never fire. Other times I'd swipe to turn when the arrows turned green and I'd crash right into the wall. I hate the controls in this game. You can collect coins along the way to buy power-ups like Auto-Pilot, Magnet, etc. but who cares. You won't live long enough to enjoy them anyway. And when you do see a power-up, there's a 50/50 chance the ship won't respond to your touch control.

There's nothing Zaxxon about Zaxxon Escape. I'm not even sure if you ever do escape the fortress. I got pretty far and there was no new change of scenery. Shoot, I didn't even get to go outside the fortress for a minute to try and avoid or shoot other ships. What a snoozefest. And is the robot Zaxxon even in the game? I'll never know.

Even if Sega does manage to update and fix the controls and give gamers a touch option, I'm not sure they'd even care. The game itself is so dull that it doesn't really matter once you've played it. And I got tired of firing a missile at a wall, watching it explode, only to discover there was an arrow behind the wall and I couldn't see it until it was too late. Just poor, lazy programming.

The graphics are nice, despite the ship looking nothing like the original. You can buy other ships in the store. Music is a sort of hard house/techno/rock riff. Sound effects are ok. Honestly, nothing here will blow you away. What's even worse is they didn't bother to include the original Zaxxon game. What a waste.

Save your dollar, retro fans. Don't get excited like I did for a sequel and then get bummed out when you discover it's a generic runner with crappy controls. It's funny how 30 years ago we got treated to such an original experience with Zaxxon, and now 30 years later that same company isn't bothering to try anything new. Sorry, Sega -- Zaxxon Escape is one sequel that blows up in your face.

 

Store Link: Zaxxon Escape for iPhone or iPad | By Sega America |Price: $0.99 | Version: 1.00 |  46.9 MB | Rating 4+

4.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating