I remember playing “Archon” on my NES back in the day, and it stood out because it did something that no other game in my collections had done at the time…allow me to directly control “Chess-esque” pieces on a playing board and fight with them. “Battle Chess” was okay, but it didn’t allow you control the pieces directly during combat. I bought “Archon Classic” a couple of years ago out of nostalgia but never really dabbled with it much. Today, I’m going to remedy that situation.
The main menu allows the player to play a skirmish match, play the campaign, view tutorials and statistics, and adjust game options. There’s also a help menu, which allows you to get caught up in terms of rules and gameplay mechanics. Keyboard controls can be changed, and it’s worth noting that you can customize the controls for up to two players on the keyboard. One player will use the WASD keys while the other uses the arrow keys. USB controller support is also available. Oh, and the original musical score is still present, albeit modernized.
Players can choose to play the single player campaign (conquest) which features over sixty quests across four campaigns, or choose to duke it out with others or the AI in one match with either classic or enhanced rules. Players can also choose to play with the classic art style, should they wish to hash up fond memories of the game like I have. Up to four players can play, whether it be in a team or free for all setting. I have to admit that the extra modes are a welcome addition to the game. The NES version only had two player support (obviously) and had just the one mode, if I recall correctly.
The object of Archon is to eliminate all of the enemy forces or complete special map conditions (like capturing all of the power squares). Fans of the original game will still experience the “Light vs Dark” theme, with each side having pieces unique to them. For those of you new to the game, you’ll be moving pieces around the board and fighting enemy pieces by landing on the spaces they occupy. Once this occurs, both pieces are transported into an arena where they’ll do battle. The cool part is that you’ll actually be allowed to control them directly and attack with their primary weapon. Special abilities can be utilized, if you have secondary abilities enabled. The winner of the battle stays on the square and the losing piece is removed from the game.
It sounds simple and you’re probably thinking that the player with the better reflexes will win every time. Yes and no. While dexterity is important, other factors come into play that determines the health of the pieces before combat begins. The color of the square, for example, will either buff or debuff a piece appropriately. The forces of light will want to stay on light squares and the forces of dark will want to stay on dark squares. Different pieces have different ways of attacking (melee and ranged), and special abilities serve to mix things up further. New to the “Archon” name is the mechanic that allows pieces to level up and be meaner than they once were, though only some of the maps feature this. You’ll experience different rules and variants, depending on the map you pick. Don’t worry, there’s a classic “Archon” map for those of you who like to kick it old school.
Overall, I am extremely pleased with this “Archon” remake. It’s safe to say that “Archon Classic” was successful in rehashing the epic battles that I remember playing as a kid. The extra modes/maps and the four player functionality are icing on the cake. The balance between combat and strategy are well thought out and the pieces each have their own distinctive character. It’s worth the ten bucks in my opinion, though if you can find it on sale, all the better.
Final Verdict: 7/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Archon Classic” by visiting the following websites:
You can view video play sessions here: