Although this isn’t directly related to Star Control, I found a recent article on IGN Retro called “Fond Memories: Archon”. In these articles, IGN editors reminisce about personal video game favorites and why they love them. Levi Buchanan decided to write about Archon.
He only mentions Paul Reiche once in the article:
"One of my favorites from the era was Archon: The Light and the Dark, created by Freefall Associates. Free Fall's trio -- Jon Freeman, Anne Westfall, and Paul Reiche III -- appeared inside the sleeve in black and white. And, to me, they looked cool."
- Levi Buchanan, "Fond Memories: Archon"
Archon was a game that Paul was involved in before he went on to his own company, Toys for Bob and the birth of Star Control. When the Archon: The Light and the Dark was released, the packaging had the names of all three designers on the front and back, with photos and some information about them. This was also done with the packaging for the first Star Control game, published by Accolade. The back of the Star Control had some text that mentioned Paul’s previous experience with Archon:
The full-game mode for Star Control does have similarities to Archon, although the ships in Star Control move in a 3D rotating starmap instead of a chess-like board. When two ships occupy the same space, they battle it out to stay on the spot. Abandonia even came up with an interesting observation about the name Star Control:
"1990, Paul Reiche III joins Fred Ford to make Archon in space, using the combat of Space Wars and the unit variety of Archon. Hiding the name of Paul Reiche III’s previous work in the title, StAR CONtrol is born."
- Abandonia, Star Control 1
Paul was only 22 years old when the first Archon was released.
Archon has an incredibly strong legacy to this day. It has been ported to several consoles and operating systems. Although I barely played it, I have XArchon on my laptop, and the NES ROM sitting on my hard drive somewhere. TFB’s most recent game, Madagascar 2, has a mini-game called “Jungle Chess”, that reminded me of Archon. The board layout was modified so there are spaces that only certain pieces can occupy and the objective is to grab the opponents trophy. There is no real-time combat, so when two pieces occupy the same spot, the one with the higher point-value wins.
It was a great experience for Paul, and definitely helped him in creating his own masterpieces that we all know and love today: Star Control I and II. When I read articles about these games, the author usually mentions the many hours spent on playing them over and over against the computer and friends and how the game is balanced beautifully. I know a long time has passed since Archon and Star Control, and if Activision listens to TFB and lets them make a new Star Control game, I know their 20+ years of experience will guarantee another beautiful and balanced masterpiece that we’ll enjoy for many years.