Archon:Classic for PC - Quick Impressions

Bill Loguidice's picture

I finally got around to playing my Steam copy of Archon:Classic on my PC over the weekend, a game I had bought when there was a sale on it several months back (good news: it's still a reasonable $9.99). I used an Xbox 360 controller to play the game, which, while playable with a keyboard, is only for Apple II die-hards. Or masochists. In any case, to put it simply, this is exactly the Archon remake/update we were always hoping for, particularly after being crushed by the travesty of Archon Ultra - which never felt right, despite being from the original developers - and games like Wrath Unleashed, which unnecessarily made everything 3D, including the board.

This is Archon in its purest form, 2D, with combat that feels exactly like it did back in the game's 8-bit heyday, which any original fan will tell you is absolutely key to the experience. What's nice is that after the developers of Archon:Classic tuned the game to perfection, they also added in features and modes from all the other versions of the game (secondary attacks, different boards, etc.), and even some additional modes, like concurrent four player, that really enhance the game tremendously. While I haven't tried every mode and feature - yet - according to the trailer, you can even replace the modern visuals with the classic sprites, a fact that I didn't even notice considering the myriad of options to choose from:

There is actually the developer's Website with more information on the game, but it's not very up-to-date for whatever reason. You can also read about the excellent iOS version of the game, though it was sadly not updated as of yet to support external controllers, which, as you can imagine, leaves you with - for a game of this type - the far less desirable touchscreen-only controls. Since the iOS version came out in 2009 and the PC version in 2010, I doubt we'll see any ports to other platforms, though it would certainly make a fine XBLA or PSN game. In fact, there was talk of a WiiWare version and other ports, but that was apparently dependent on how well the PC version sold, which, I imagine, was not particularly well given the indie-feel of the title.

Personally, the only flaws I find with the game are aesthetic ones--the visuals are not that great in parts of the game. Character portraits in particular use relatively low quality 3D renders, which is rarely an effective look, and certainly not here, with such images screaming out for hand-drawn, 2D art. As an example, compare this image of a rendered Basilisk versus what even a rough sketch looks like, and tell me which one you prefer (more in the gallery). Sound is nothing special overall, but in some cases, like the remixed original Archon theme song, it rises well above its visual counterpart.

Audio-visual unevenness aside, I highly recommend this game to fans of the original (or those who were always curious about the original--just expect a small to medium learning curve) who have a decent PC. You can purchase the game from the developer's Website, Steam, GamersGate, and I'm sure a few other places, so it shouldn't be hard to track down. A demo is available, though I can't vouch for how effectively it reflects the quality of the full game.

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Bill Loguidice
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The Unholy War

Apparently Paul Reiche III (one of the original Archon authors) was also involved in the development of a PS1 game entitled, The Unholy War, which looks like it could be a 3D Archon-style game done right. I'll have to check it out.

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Bill Loguidice
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Archon:Classic - Updates definitely stalled since 2010

The last devblog update was August 2010: http://www.archonclassic.com/devblog/ and it sounds like there's some grumbling on the forums about lack of online mutliplayer, something I don't personally care about, though I can totally understand the frustration since it was apparently promised to early adopters: http://forums.reactgames.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=5213 .

As of yet, I have not experienced any bugs, but who knows what will happen over time. Online multiplayer would be nice, but I can sort of understand with poor sales the developer being unable to expend more resources on the game. It's still very much worth the price of admission for me (I think I paid half the current $10 asking price when Steam had a sale--don't remember exactly though).

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clok1966
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in the video i see the old

in the video i see the old one color icons and the new ones? is that something you can change? I would guess I would prefer the new graphics, but who knows? Archon was a great game, a bit to easy as I can remeber beating the whole game with a single Pawn many times. I seem to rember the unicorn was my favorite as it was fast and also shot very fast.

I'm temepted, I was way back when i saw it was going to be released, but I never did pick it up. hmm maybe.

Bill Loguidice
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Archon redux
clok1966 wrote:

in the video i see the old one color icons and the new ones? is that something you can change? I would guess I would prefer the new graphics, but who knows? Archon was a great game, a bit to easy as I can remeber beating the whole game with a single Pawn many times. I seem to rember the unicorn was my favorite as it was fast and also shot very fast.

It defaults to the new graphics. I haven't even seen the option for the old style character sprites, but clearly it's there so I need to look for it tonight.

I was never good enough with the pawns to win the entire game with them, but I often made a game on the C-64 version of not losing any piece or trying to win in as few moves as possible.

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Rowdy Rob
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Great post, Bill!

Surprisingly, this is the first I've heard of "Archon: Classic." I think I'm on record here as being an Archon master back in the day, and like Clok, I found it a bit too easy. Yes, I could defeat the game with a pawn too. And none of my friends were a match for my skills, so the game lacked staying power due to the lack of difficulty levels. Archon II was even easier; just declare "Armageddon" and whip the computer in a one-on-one shootout.

I'm definitely interested, but I'm a bit wary of the lack of updates/development. Although I'm no big multiplayer fan, I can see myself playing this game against others, so I think the lack of online multiplayer is a big loss!

But the rest of the game, as you've described it, sounds spot on! Hmm..... I'm considering it.....

Bill Loguidice
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Archon:Classic
Rowdy Rob wrote:

But the rest of the game, as you've described it, sounds spot on! Hmm..... I'm considering it.....

Yeah, don't let that stop you. If you're a true Archon fan, the $10 is well worth it. Also, if you're wary, there's always the free demo, though I can't vouch for how well it reflects on the full game.

Also, it may have bugs, but I have yet to encounter any after several playthroughs in different modes... And again, for my money, even with no further updates, for $10, it's well worth it and is packed with value.

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Bill Loguidice
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I took some screen captures

I took some screen captures with Steam of the Conquest mode: http://steamcommunity.com/id/billloguidice/screenshots/?tab=all (that's the link to get to the full 1920x1080 resolution; otherwise simply right click on one of the images below to open in a new tab to see it at full resolution)

The Conquest mode is interesting, because it's like a light single player RPG where you progress through various scenarios using only certain pieces. It's a very effective mode and further adds to the value.

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Chip Hageman
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Archon: Classic
Bill Loguidice wrote:

Audio-visual unevenness aside, I highly recommend this game to fans of the original (or those who were always curious about the original--just expect a small to medium learning curve) who have a decent PC. You can purchase the game from the developer's Website, Steam, GamersGate, and I'm sure a few other places, so it shouldn't be hard to track down. A demo is available, though I can't vouch for how effectively it reflects the quality of the full game.

I just picked this up based on your recommendation, but I haven't put much time into it yet.

For those interested though, Direct2Drive has the game for $9.95 in DRM free form.

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clok1966
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I think the Conquest mode you

I think the Conquest mode you mentioned pushed me over the edge I think I will check it out tonight. I'm a sucker for that type of stuff. the DOW conquest modes are a small addiction of mine. Still play a quick game on a weekend sometimes with a random race. I been a little dispointed with my last few purchases (Dungeon Defenders, Alice Retruns, and one more).

Chip Hageman
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This game seems to be more

This game seems to be more "steppy" than I remember the original being. The characters seem to move about 8 pixels at a time. Anyone encountering that? It's kind of awkward.

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