Joel and I dig into the dark (and light) depths of the past with chess-like arena-fighter Archon: The Light and the Dark. It was released in 1983 which makes it one of the oldest games ever.
I was born in 1983.
Archon is particularly significant to me now after discovering that it’s essentially the grandfather of one of my favourite multiplayer games on the PlayStation: The Unholy War, by Toys For Bob.
For additional notes on the history of the game visit Electron Dance. For the video, see below.
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A huge thanks to Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance as always for his tirelessness in putting this together!
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Great choice for a Side-by-Side!
Archon is one of the seminal games of my childhood. I was eight years old when it came out, played it at a friend’s house, and then went home and bought it through a catalog. This was The Past, for those of you born in 1983, when “Allow Four to Six Weeks for Delivery” was printed in large block type on any mail-order form. Man, it sucks to be eight years old and waiting four to six weeks for your game. But it was worth it.
One of the three developers of Archon was Paul Reiche III, who would go on to be pivotal in Star Control; you can see some of the early pedigree in Archon. For such an early game it had incredible nuance in the strategy — the color shifting board and asymmetry of the sides was really deep and made each game exciting. I agree with Gregg, the controls were always a little awkward.
I didn’t know about that modern update, your description of its flaws is pretty telling though. Finding the “perfect mechanic” is the wrong way for Archon to be done! At the same time, I would like to see a really good modern update… imagine 3D combat similar to the battlefields of Mount & Blade (except smaller and with individual combatants), plus really glossy character models and the same basic gameplay. Games like Rocket League have proven that a fairly simple concept can be almost endlessly entertaining if done well, and Archon has that same DNA.
For me, Sacrifice was always the modern successor to Archon, though the two aren’t very similar from a play perspective.
It’s great to see another Side by Side! Also, Gregg, if you want I will happily send you another Tap-Repeatedly t-shirt. That one has to be getting a little threadbare by now.
You have local multiplayer friends right Steerpike? Definitely get a PlayStation emulator and try out The Unholy War, or use your PS3 with a hard copy. Lew and I used to play it loads as kids and I’ve still got a copy on my shelves — I think it’d hold up really well.
Honestly, I’m so surprised that this kind of turn-based strategy and real-time arena-fighting game hasn’t been revisited and brought online.
Found this fantastic (and hilarious) review of it: https://youtu.be/KmhhANw57XY
I think there are some similarities between Archon and Chaos Reborn actually, specifically the original Chaos which was made in 1985!
Oh and the t-shirt is still in beautiful condition! 😉