Classic Video Game Monday: Archon

I was doing one of my favorite past-times and looking up playthroughs of old-games on YouTube, and discovered an amazing remix of an amazing old video game theme.

And I thought, man, Archon was awesome.

“It’s Wizard’s Chess, Harry!”

It looks like chess. It… isn’t really. The pieces don’t move anything like chess pieces do, oh, and when two of them meet on the battlefield, suddenly it turns into an action game:

Whichever color square you happen to fight on determines what color piece has the advantage, but underdogs can– and will– triumph.

The objective is to either kill the other side’s “king” or control all five diamond-shaped areas on the board– there is one at each compass point and one at the center. This is harder to accomplish than it looks, between all the fighting you have to do and the way you also get magical spells and can teleport around or revive fallen pieces. You think Echo of Medivh cheats, wait til the computer revives his most powerful piece and then teleports it on top of you.

Hax? Perhaps, but you can dish it out to the other guy just as well.

Delightfully original and fiendishly difficult, this game is a true classic from the C64/Atari/Apple II era. Orson Scott Card approved. Oh, and distributed by Electronic Arts, funnily enough.

12 thoughts on “Classic Video Game Monday: Archon”

  1. YES. ARCHON. SO AWESOME. I have (and still play whenever I get the opportunity) the Atari PC version.

    It always bugged me that the Light side has such a serious disadvantage in that all we get is the Phoenix to the Dark side’s Doppelganger. I mean, seriously, the Phoenix is such a fundamentally BAD piece in so many ways.

  2. One of my friends growing up was a demon at Archon, and he would kick your arse using nothing but the pawn pieces, even though they were the Melee class and needed to get in close to attack their opponent.

    I preferred Battle Chess myself, even though that was nothing but Chess with cute animations when pieces were captured.

  3. My brother and I used to play that game all of the time. I do not remember it looking so bad though. At the time we thought it was cutting edge graphics!!I agree with the above the light side used to suck.!!

  4. Though ive never heard of this game, it reminds me of a computer game called 3d Battle Chess(i think). the pieces moved just the same as Chess but when it got to the point where you could take an enemy piece it would change to a battlefield and the two pieces would battle it out using powers like fireballs and shields and stuff. Also, say… a Queen type not only could out manuver most pieces on the board it was also stronger in battle was well.. really added an element 🙂

    It was loaded with all sorts of mythical monsters! 😀

  5. Oh wow, Archon. I played the heck out of that game back in the day. (The day being the mid ’80s. Yes, I’m old.)

    And contrary to the above, I used to kick ass as the light side. Yes, the phoenix was pretty crummy, but unicorns were crazy good.

  6. Oh the hours and days, weeks and months I poured into Archon. It was such a fantastic game.
    As a teenage chess lover and regular RPG player (and by RPGs here I mean the proper table-top ones!), Archon was like mana from heaven. It was chess, but with fantasy creatures and you actually fought each other on the battlefield when the opportunity to capture an opposition piece was presented.

    Whenever I played chess I always imagined little battles when captures were done, and Archon allowed me to play those out.

    So good.

  7. Followed you here from AotH – had to comment on this because Archon was badass. I can recall knowing exactly how many cycles the colors of the ECA logo would go through while loading on my C64 so I’d have something to do while I waited (HDDs? not yet, kids – these games loaded on 5.25″ floppies). I had Archon II as well, but this one was much more fun.

    Also from this era was Jumpman. Ah Jumpman, what a fantastic game.

  8. Archon, one of my favorite C64 games. Along with Jumpman and Lode Runner. Good memories.

    Waiting for the online updated version of Archon with 3D graphics. (EA, please do this if you still have the rights?)

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