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Another Sunday means another episode of 1001 Video Games You
Must Play Before You Die, the (hopefully) weekly series where I play through
all of the games listed in the book - 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You
Die. If I played the game before, then I will share my memory of the
experience. If I haven't played the game before, then I find an online version
or an emulator and I play the game (for at least 30 minutes). This is a book
every gamer should have in their library, and if you're interested in
purchasing it, you can find it here.
Last week was I, Robot, a game I suggested was sort of a Star
Fox and F-Zero hybrid. Actually it's kind of a strange bird in a category all on its own. Not one I would necessarily recommend, unless of course you too are trying
to play all 1001 of these video games before you die. So, onto the next game.
But first, most of you probably don't have this book, so you probably don't
think about this much. But each week when I move on to the next game -
sometimes I am able to see what's next. For example, if there are multiple games on each page. But it's when I cover all the games on those pages and have to
turn to the next page, that's the real treat. It's always a surprise. And this
week was a pleasant surprise. A pleasant surprise indeed.
This week's featured game is...
Archon: The Light And
Archon: The Light and
the Dark is a video game developed by Free Fall Associates and distributed by
Electronic Arts. It was originally developed for Atari 8-bit computers in 1983,
but was later ported to several other systems of the day, including the Apple
II, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, Amiga, IBM PC, Apple Macintosh,
PC-88, and NES. It was designed by Paul Reiche III (also created the graphics
for the game) and Jon Freeman, and programmed by Anne Westfall.
On the surface, Archon
appears similar to chess, but there are a number of significant changes.
While the board is similar to a chessboard, and the various pieces are
similarly designed to have various offsetting abilities, when one piece
attempts to take another, the removal of the targeted piece is not automatic.
Instead, the two pieces are placed into a full-screen 'combat arena' and must
battle (action-style, with the players running the pieces) to determine who
takes the square. Generally (but not always) in combat, a stronger piece will
defeat a weaker piece in either defending or capturing a square. It is also
possible for the fight to result in a double-kill, in which both pieces are
eliminated. This uncertainty adds a level of complexity into the game, since it
is not always possible to predict if taking a square will be successful. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)
Not only have I played Archon, I have some very fond
memories of the game. You see, my brother and I are extremely close, but if
there is one thing we kind of differ on - its video games. He doesn't play
them. And not only does he not play them, I'd venture as far as saying he doesn't
even like them. This is really odd, because he is the one who introduced me to
video games when I was a wee lad. I suppose he grew out of them and moved on to
other interests while I was set on a path to becoming the gamer I am today. It was
on his Commodore 64 I first played Archon, and it was with him I first played Archon.
Did You Know: Archon is
a Greek word that means "ruler" or "lord".
As mentioned in the summary above Archon was a lot like
chess, only in this version of chess, you control the pieces in battle. And
whoever wins the battle lives and occupies the space, and the loser removes his/her
piece from the board. Imagine if you will, moving your Rook onto a space
occupied by a Pawn or vice versa (in Archon pawns are either knights or
goblins, depending on the side you are on). Regardless of the piece, the attacker
wins the spot. But in Archon, every piece has as shot at winning. Now, using
the equivalent of a Pawn in Archon...well, it's a relatively weak piece. But imagine
the equivalent of a Pawn taking on the equivalent of the Queen - the Queen has
more attack damage and health but the Pawn at least has a fighting chance. Now
imagine really tense games when you find yourself in the above scenario, and
the Pawn equivalent wins. That's the sort of battles my brother and I used to
have in Archon. It was just a lot of fun as we had some extremely challenging games, too close to call.
In 1996, Computer
Gaming World ranked Archon as the 20th best game of all time. This "great
game" was also ranked as the 50th top game by IGN in 2003.
There have been a few ports of the game and even a sequel or
two. I've never played any of them before and couldn't really tell you anything
about them. I will say I thought Archon did an amazing job taking the iconic
game of chess, adding a unique flair to its gameplay, and producing an even
more strategic and challenging game. It's truly a marvelous title. Apparently
there is an iPhone version of the game, I might have to try it out.
Since I played the game I guess I can mark it off my list. I
absolutely think Archon deserves a spot in this book, and even though it might
not be worth playing today in modern times, I will forever treasure the memories
I have playing the game with my brother, on his Commodore 64, way back in the mid-1980s.
I'm not sure what
game is up next week, so be sure to check back and see if it is something
you've played or not. Until then, enjoy the rest of your weekend and have a
Episode 1: 01 - 05 (here)
Episode 2: 06 - 10 (here)
Episode 3: 11 - 15 (here)
Episode 4: 16 - 20 (here)
Episode 5: 21 - 25 (here)
Episode 6: 26 - 30 (here)
Episode 7: 31 - 35 (here)
Episode 8: 36 - 40 (here)
Episode 41 (here)
Episode 42 (here)
Episode 43 (here)
Episode 44 (here)
Episode 45 (here)
Episode 46 (here)
Episode 47 (here)
Episode 48 (here)
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