Archon: The Light and the Dark is a strategic board game with some similarities to chess. Two sides, a light one and a dark one, consisting of 18 pieces each compete on a board divided into (9 by 9) squares. You win the game by having one of your units on each of the five powerpoint squares, by removing all opposing pieces from the board or by imprisoning the last remaining creature of the opposing side..
However, you can't just remove a piece from the board by landing on it. When two pieces clash, the outcome is decided in the battle arena during one-on-one real-time combat. If the real-time combat takes place on a dark square, the dark monster gets a health bonus (longer life bar). On a light square the light side gains an advantage. There are also some squares whose color changes over time (from afternoon, to dusk, to night, to dawn etc.), which adds an extra layer of strategy to the game.
Unlike chess the two sides are not identical. Both sides consist of mythological creatures. For example the light side has among others unicorns, valkyries and a djinni while the dark side features basilisks, banshees and manticores. The differences are not just cosmetic. Two special pieces are the light wizard & the dark sorceress, they can both cast magical spells like: imprison a unit on the board, shift the flow of time (change day/night cycle to your advantage), bring one unit back from the dead etc.
The different pieces have their own movement restrictions regarding the number of squares they're allowed to travel on the board and whether or not they can jump over other units (like the knight in chess). Units also behave different in combat; some units are faster than others, some use melee attacks while others fire projectiles.
Archon can be played with either one or two players. The NES version, which was released a few years after the other versions, has improved graphics for the real-time combat part. Each type of square has it's own colored background and the unit sprites are larger.
Archon is a definite gem of computer gaming's past. While it never achieved the critical acclaim of some other games, Archon in its own quiet way has maintained a constant following to this day. Archon spawned two direct sequels, numerous remakes, and has inspired many games, a short list of which would include Star Control, Unholy Wars, Wrath Unleashed, and the Mortal Kombat Chess mini-game in Mortal Kombat: Deception.
Archon is a sort of extension of chess, but in a way that can only be realized with a computer. The rules of the game are complex and numerous. Mastering it can be a challenge and winning is deeply satisfying. It's difficult not to gloat when you learn to use the rules to give your piece an advantage and turn the tide of battle.
The board is similar to chess except the squares, instead of being purely black or white can be black, white, or constantly changing back and forth between black and white through shades of gray. Darker squares give an attack bonus to the dark pieces, and lighter squares give a bonus to light pieces. By watching which of your opponents pieces are on what colored square you can force an advantage for your piece when you move to take them. The board also has 5 power points located on the edges and center of the board. Any piece on these special squares gains a health bonus at the end of every turn for as long as they can stay there.
In Archon you do not merely take pieces. Instead you must defeat the piece in top down combat. Depending on the units fighting you must shoot or smash the life out of your opponent, while dodging their blows. Combat is usually quick with the stronger piece overpowering the weaker quickly. However, keep in mind that color bonuses can even the score somewhat.
Mastering Archon means becoming familiar the strengths of the individual units in battle. Each of the sides, black and white, have 8 unique pieces which you watch march in and place themselves on the board before the game, each with their individual attacks and hit point levels. In addition the Wizard or Sorceress on each side can summon at random one of four elemental units, making in total 20 unique units. While each piece on the black side has a similar piece in the white side, no two pieces are exactly the same.
The Wizard or Sorceress on each team is arguably the most influential piece on the board. Powerful in combat, their real strength lies on the board. Each of them can be called on to cast from a selection of seven spells. Each spell can only be cast once and can have a variety of effects from causing the squares that are shifting colors to reverse the order of their shifting (shift time) to bringing back a defeated piece at full health (revive). The twist is that for each spell cast their home square deals a 1 point heath disadvantage in battle to any member of their team who's on it, including themselves. This odd rule means that later in the game if you want your Wizard or Sorceress to be safe, it's best to get them off their home square.
Archon was made for the Apple IIe, Commodore 64, Atari 800 and IBM PC, and later ported to the NES. Little differences exist between each of the version, but generally the game remains true throughout. The IBM version hosted here boasts startling CGA graphics and PC speaker sound. Somehow, all of these features work in perfect harmony with Windows XP meaning you may not need DOSBox. However, since it's simultaneously complex to learn and hard to look at, you may want to just run the game in demo mode a few times so that if you don't get into it, you can still get a sense of the glory of Archon.
The game gets full marks for originality and influence. However its high learning curve with the poor sound and graphics of the IBM version force a significant drop in its score. If I were reviewing the C64 or Atari 800 versions I could give it a 4. However I have to give this version of Archon a 3 overall.
Well, Archon has always been a game I loved and hated. The concept is ingenious - a mixture between Chess and a good old fighting arcade game - everything set in a fantasy environment. A good idea. Unfortunately the computer opponent is VERY hard to beat. I managed it on my C64 once or twice, but with the controls on the PC it seems to be impossible. I always found it more fun to play against a friend. The goal of the game is to conquer the 5 places on the board that are surrounded by sparkling points. To do this you play on a chesslike board and fight once you meet your opponent. Those fights are action based and although the computer plays pretty dumb I had too much trouble with the controls to win. Basically you tend to lose mostly because of your fighter not shooting (or whatever it was supposed to do) when you want it to. Could have been done better... What really makes this game worth a look is the variety of actions your "pieces" can perform. Most important the Wizard/Sorceress who can cast different types of spells. This is your chance to take part in the everlasting fight between light and dark.
Introduction from the manual: "Archon is a contest of action and strategy between opposing forces wrought from myth and legend. The Light Side and the Dark Side are equal in force, balanced in strength. Though they are not identical, their goals are the same. Each side exists to conquer, by eliminating all of the opposing pieces or controlling the five power points."
Archon is a great classic I loved back then on the C64. The game is an amazingly original blend of chess, fantasy strategy, puzzle, and even a bit of action. Hard to describe-- but must be played to be believe. Similar to The Sentinel, Archon is one of the rarest of all classics: addictive gameplay that truly stands the test of time. Graphics and controls are poor on the PC version, though (CGA only), and so I really suggest trying to get hold of the original Atari or C64 release, or take a look at the updated Archon Ultra released years after this one (although unfortunately the true sequel, Archon II, was never released for the PC). A must-have!
Battle Chess meets Tekken ;) This is not your typical chess game. For starters you don't have the chess pieces, and taking over someone is not as easy as moving onto their square with your piece and lifting them off the board. Oh no siree!
This is the ultimate chess game. When you see someone's nice little guy standing there on a white square, you go in for the kill. But lo and behold, up loads the 1 on 1 combat screen - now we see who wins ;)
There are other factors to this game that have to be considered when playing. Such as if you are a white player and you go to fight, then fighting on a white square is better. As this is your colour and you have an advantage because of that. Just like chess the different pieces have different strengths and weaknesses. Its not as simple as there is the battle scene, and your tiny little piece would have no show. So, its up to you to chose the right player to take over another one.
This game has a great human vs. human side. So you can take on your best friend who is 100x smarter than you at anything strategic, and just kick the living crap out of them! They were always too busy playing normal chess to bother with any of the beat-em up games, so that's where it pays to bum around on PCs all the time. It's not too hard to beat the PC either.
The graphics are a bit crappy and only in CGA. And the PC speaker has never been much fun. But it's an old game and you get what you expect, and this was ok for a 1984 game.
An addictive game, and a lot of fun. Brings together using your brain, and using your fighting skills. If you like this you should have a look at Archon Ultra which was the newer version and can be found on this site.
People who downloaded Archon have also downloaded:
Archon Ultra, Leisure Suit Larry 1: In the Land of the Lounge Lizards, Dark Queen of Krynn, The, Secret of the Silver Blades, Winter Games, World Games, Civilization 2, Dark Sun: Shattered Lands
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