Matt Chat 43: Archon

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Hi, folks. I'm back this week with a video about one of my favorite two-player games, Free Fall Associates' Archon (1983).

Also: Check out Bill's amazing response video that shows the original packaging and much more!

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Ungi (not verified)
Ah, Archon! I was the donor

Ah, Archon!

I was the donor of the originals of Archon I+II (Amiga) to have it fixed for whdload. Especially Archon I was one of the most uncompatible games ever on the Amiga, it required Kickstart 1.1 or 1.2 and did not run with any fast RAM, when most ppl had an Amiga with Kick 1.3 and 512KB fast RAM... the whdload fixed versions of those games now run perfectly with any enhanced Amiga from harddisk.

I still play it a lot with my kids up to this day.

Bill Loguidice
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Archon Classic on iPhone - A Quick Look

I finally got a chance to try "Archon Classic" on iPhone and it's actually pretty good, but with one major caveat that stops me from recommending it, period.

First off, I have the "lite" (free) version, which is significantly crippled (just a handful of pieces, no spells, etc.), but it gives you a good taste of the most important part of the Archon experience, the action sequences. Audio-visuals are actually fine on the small screen, though it can be a bit hard to make out the pieces on the board, or at least what they specifically are, though I suspect one's recognition would improve over time. In combat the pieces move well and shooting/slashing/etc. all seem to work well (though it seems to take a long time to cycle back to be able to shoot/slash/etc. again). Unfortunately, combat is full screen with the phone in its horizontal orientation, and you essentially use your left thumb to move and your right thumb to activate the shooting/slashing/etc. The obvious issue is that since combat takes place all over the screen and running around and through "cover" and your opponent naturally results in chaos, there's no easy way to stop your thumbs from obscuring the screen in a significant manner at the most ill-opportune time. So, major missed opportunity here, as it seems like - though I wouldn't say "nailed it" - they put together something that feels very, very good, but is crippled by the platform's limitations. Pity, based on all we discussed...

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.
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Chris Kennedy
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iPhone version

You know...I have the iPhone Lite version as well. I have had it on my phone for quite some time, but I have never really played it. As it is now a bit more relevant, I fired it up.

I don't know. It seems rather lame. The controls and the size of the screen just don't make for that much excitement. I cannot believe that part of the playing field is under the d-pad. I know it is probably because they wanted to maximize screen space, but that just isn't a good idea for Archon. I was in the middle of a battle when my character ended up partially underneath the d-pad. The enemy had chased me into that corner. What do you do in this case? You either attack the enemy immediately or get the heck out of there. I was charged up and ready for attack but I could NOT attack. I tapped as much as I could, and the character would not attack. I tried tapping closer to the action, but that was pointless because I was essentially just tapping the d-pad. My character looked like an idiot.

The pacing is off, the controls are off, and the gameplay just feels boring to me.

Also - No multiplayer. It says multiplayer is coming soon. How soon is soon? Archon is a *multiplayer* game! That said, you still have the issue of iPhone controls. I just don't know about this one, Bill.

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Bill Loguidice
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Well, I certainly wasn't

Well, I certainly wasn't praising it either, Chris, but I thought it has a good foundation. Without the right controls, though, it really doesn't matter either way, and for that, I think we're both in total agreement. I also got boxed into a corner as well and couldn't do anything about it. Probably a design flaw.

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.
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Matt Barton
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The Curse of Archon

There seems to be a genuine curse on Archon--no one ever seems to remake it right. Seems so obvious that I daresay even I could program a decent remake, yet even highly trained and talented folks don't get close. What the heck.

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Chris Kennedy
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Haha

Heh. I knew you weren't praising it, Bill. I was just taking a stance next to you and shaking my head while I saying, "dunno about this one..."

I agree with you, Matt. It seems like this could be redone the *right* way. I am just not sure the people working on it know what makes it good. Heck - port it from Atari/C64 to iPhone and then build on that. It isn't as though screen resolution should be a big deal. The screen itself isn't that big.

I'll stop doing a technical analysis before I start. Bottom line - know the game you are porting.

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Bill Loguidice
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My argument is regardless

My argument is regardless whether the foundation is good or not (I say I think it *might* be), the iPhone is not the ideal platform. You really need something with a physical joystick of some type.

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.
[About Me]

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