kalmis's Archon Classic (PC) review

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C64 classic returns

 So, Archon was a classic Commodore 64 game that can be loosely categorized as action battle chess. Game was presented with a chess like board. Each player having their own side and set of characters. Or pieces as its called in chess. Objective is to clear the opponents pieces simply. The pieces loosely follow chess rules as well. Front row is armed with knights or ogres which is the disposable unit with only single melee attack. The more valuable pieces in the back row have more powerful attacks, such as ranged and are of effect.

 C64 version

I used to play the original game which more than 25 years ago now. Still got really fond memories of this. And the remember the fierce battles with my brother and friends. Without even knowing any of the chess rules back then. Which is not really required either.

The Archon license history has had a good amount of turbulence in the past. The indie developer React Games behind Archon Classic was solely created to develop this remake.

Gameplay which was the major selling point is still almost identical. Only additions are the introduction of a secondary attack for some characters. As well a simple level up function where a piece will gain experience and levels by killing enemies. This adding more HP and firepower. Some levels also have power-ups that can be picked up. The chess-like aspect of the game where color of square a piece is residing in plays still a major role. Meaning if light colored piece is attacking dark piece that happens to located in dark block it will have an advantage. This comes in form of hitpoints the piece has. Another new addition is special titles that give further bonus or deduction, depending on the color again.

 More than 25 years later

Of course what Archon is known for is the actual battle. Despite game being a turn-based chess alike the actual battle when pieces hit the same square is in real time. Pieces are battling on the same screen each with its unique weapons. The knight piece having only a melee attack requires player to get close to the opponent where majority of other pieces have a ranged attack. Depending on players skill it is of course possible to beat a strong dragon piece that has very strong ranged attack with a melee character. Which comes down to the controls which are easy to pick up and the game supports different USB-controls. My Xbox 360 controller working perfectly here.

Multiplayer in Archon was a big thing back in 80's. There still is such, max 4 players. Unfortunately this is local only. Mustering up a such niche audience around my PC feels too tiring task to even think about it. According to some snippets from the developers they are working with adding a proper multiplayer which might change the interest completely.

Addition to the local multiplayer game has a conquest mode which act as a campaign mode. This is divided in to four factions each having 15 individual quest. These being different scenarios starting from a gathering a army that escalates to a full board games.

 The cast from the past. That is 90's

It is a strange experience playing a C64 that looks its been made in mid 90's. Even worse when you look at release date of this thing. 2010. Granted the original 1983 game looks crude on today's standards but at least it has its own charm. The original game didn't have a real music other than the intro and battle sounds. What we get in the 2010 is number of rock tracks performed by the finest 90's midi style. Games splash screen follows the same era with dodgy 3D models. The pieces are tiny 3D characters. Backgrounds flat and very generic 2D pictures. Classic C64 sprite pieces can only used in the multiplayer mode.

I fail to understand purpose of this remake. I do remember using lots of time with the C64 version and when youtubing some of the gameplay it looks rather primitive. The remake has brought the game 10 years forward. And added Xbox 360 controller support and Steam Achievements, but that's about it. Gameplay, despite its changes sill make this a very simple game. The lack of multiplayer especially hurts. In year 2010-> it is done over the internet. Especially with a niche game as Archon.

Now where is my The Last Ninja remake? 

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