Let's Welcome Archon Classic

Archon is a very fascinating game with a strong legacy of its own.  The first game in the series is Archon: The Light and the Dark.  It was released in 1983 and developed by Free Fall Associates, a terrific trio composed of Jon Freeman, Anne Westfall and the future TFB kingpin, Paul Reiche III.  It is a combination of chess and 1 vs. 1 combat.  This game has very strong ties with Star Control.  For example, Star Control 1 had a rotating 3D star field, where players can move their ships to different starts and when opposing ships occupy the same star, battle ensues and a 1 vs. 1 match will occur like Archon.  Abandonia even theorized that the name Archon is hidden in the title: StAR CONtrol.

Archon spawned various sequels and even games that are similar including TFB’s own Unholy War for the PlayStation.

On December 12, 2008 (1 day before my birthday :D), React Games announced that they have signed a deal with Free Fall Games* to develop Archon for various platforms.  React is currently a licensed developer for the iPhone, Nintendo Wii and DS, PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3.  At the time of this writing, they have released Archon Conquest and Archon Classic for the iPhone, which have received positive reviews.

They are currently working on the PC version of Archon Classic.  I have pre-purchased for $15 and I am having fun with the beta version.  It is also compatible with Windows 7 if anyone’s curious.  At the moment, only local play is available; conquest (single-player campaign) and network play is unavailable.  Like the game’s manual, I also recommend playing with a USB controller; I find it more comfortable and there’s no need to share parts of the keyboard.  I used my Xbox 360 controller.  Another feature I enjoyed is being able to have 4 players fighting the board, both teams and free-for-all.  The AI skill level can be adjusted.  I admit that I’ve never been a skilled Archon player and I am still getting used to the pieces, the board’s layout and the way it changes.  Luckily, I am able to choose a CPU player to fight on my side to help me get through the game.  I love playing a 4-player game because there are times when 3 or 4 pieces occupy the same space, creating very interesting brawls.

I e-mailed Chad Lee, CEO of React Games about Archon and Star Control.  He wrote that “Star Control 2 is a favorite around here” and here’s what he said about Archon:

We've showed Paul [Reiche] our Demo and the iPhone version and his comments thus far were:

"...GREAT JOB! The game feels very much like the original."

He hasn't had a chance to delve into our demo as much, because of his own game...but we'll get quotes from him later.

- Chad Lee

It’s great that Paul got a chance to take look at what they’re working on and provided some feedback.  I’ve seen many articles and reviews about Archon and how there should be a new one.  Archon Classic has a fresh new look, classic gameplay, support for USB controllers, up to 4 players at the same time and HD graphics.  If Archon can get a revival in HD, so can Star Control.  I only paid $15 for pre-ordering and it will cost $20 when it is ready for the public.  I’d recommend this to anyone who loves Archon and wants something new; it’s much more fun with 4 players and I can’t see what network play and conquest are like.  It’s really great to hear that Free Fall Games and Paul Reiche have faith in React Games and their work.  I’m impressed with what they’ve got so far.  The fact that I’m not very experienced in Archon reminds me of when I barely had any combat experience in Star Control; I remember reading about all of the units, strengths, weaknesses and just getting used to how they play and develop my own strategies.  Nicely done React, and I hope that the Archon legacy grows for another 26 years.

I’d like to thank Chad Lee for writing back to me, Paul Forest and everyone else who sent me tips me about this and Free Fall Games and Paul Reiche for supporting Archon.  I hope that in the future, this can be used as an example that if Archon can leave its mark, Star Control can do the same with its fan base.

React Games website
Archon iPhone Gameplay Video
* Free Fall Games (Formerly Free Fall Associates)

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