I Played That! #12: Archon (C64)

Something you’re going to have to get used to in this series is thinking of Electronic Arts as a good company, putting out exciting, innovative games. I know what I’m asking here, but trust me, they weren’t always like they are now.

Archon was an early EA release and it was incredible. It was something completely different, and yet easy to pick up. It presents itself as chess, only with asymmetric sides. Light and Dark have different pieces, but they seem like they’re fairly well balanced. The goal of Archon was to either eliminate the opponent’s pieces or control five power spots on the board (a/k/a, the lame way to win).

The difference came when attacking a piece. At that point the game would shift into an action game, where the two pieces would run around attacking each other to the death. The different battle abilities of the pieces came into play here and it was possible for a weak piece, in the hands of a gamer good with reflex action, to take out a strong piece. In addition, the other part of the game still mattered here. Some squares were light and some dark, and some cycled between the two. Whichever color the square was when the battle took place gave an edge to the player of that color.

The whole thing is brilliantly done, was fun to play, and had one of those super memorable themes:

There was a sequel, Archon II: Adept, which I also had, but I didn’t like it as much. It removed some of the simplicity of Archon in favor of a lot of extra hoo-hah. Other iterations of Archon came and went, but the original was the one for me.

After I sold my C64 to my friend Charlyn, and when I was briefly sort of dating her, we were playing Archon one day and I was doing pretty well, when suddenly I realized, “hang on, I need to be losing this game”. Ah, youth.

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