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Electronic Arts
Not Known
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

Other Links

Phil South
Chris Bourne

This isn't really a compilation tape, especially as there's actually only two games on it: Archon and Archon II. They started life as single games on 'other' machines, notably the Commie 64, but this is the first time either of them has appeared on the Speccy.

Archon was the first (and Archon II the second, right? Ed) game of this type and is based loosely on chess, although the similarity ends with your first glance. The two sides are light and dark, clearly, but light is order and dark is chaos. In fact, on closer inspection the characters look decidedly more dangerous than the normal chess set, and so they are. They're all mythological characters, like Firebirds (Phoenixes, I think), Sirens, Kraken, Gorgons, Wraiths, Chimera, and the like. The two main players, the equivalent of the King in chess, are The Mistress of Chaos and the Master Of Order. If they fall then you are sunk.

The game goes in rounds, and the background squares to the black reflect this by turning from white to dark, showing the phases from light into darkness. They call it the Luminosity Cycle. Heavily symbolic, I think you'll agree although 'of what' exactly. I think Dr Hatstand has more idea.

But thass norrall, as they say in the movies, 'cos in spite of being a pretty stiff (HONK) strategy game, there is also a combat screen when two characters clash, which calls on the muscles in your hand rather than the big one between your ears. (HOONNKK!!) The two players warp into a battle zone where they can shoot it out with more space around them than they can find on a board crowded with half-men/half-tea towels.

Archon II? Well, it would be churlish to say. Yep, it's more of the same, but it's tempting. The zones are different but the players are basically the same sort of caper. You must occupy the six 'power points' on the board or die in the attempt. (I always loved that phrase.) The board itself is four bands of colour representing the four elements, earth, fire, air and water. This time, apart from your hybrid mythological chummies, you also have some elementals (from the first game) and some sulphur snorting demons too. With them you must mop up the opposition and occupy the points. Simple really. You think so? Just wait until you try it.

So all this is very nice but what do the games play like? They're quite hard for sure but that's the good thing about them. Playing against the computer can be a bit frustrating as you need to be the incredible Flash to shoot back as fast as it does with its characters. You'll always lose against the computer. But the really swell thing is when you play against a friend. Yep, these are two player games, folks, with the two of you elbowing each other about on the keyboard. Keys 3, 4, A, Q and CAPS for one of you and B, N, L, P and SYMBOL for the other. Odd choice but there you go.

I like the Archons, even if I can't decide how to say it, and as a good value package you can't really go wrong with this.

Spooky, mythological corker. Great stuff.


Screenshot Text

Siren: Bee baa bee baa... oh sorry, more of a fishy mermaid type, actually. Sings you to death apparently. Belong to the same choir as Ed then?