ROM Computer Magazine Archive ROM MAGAZINE ISSUE 3 — DECEMBER 1983/JANUARY 1984 / PAGE 5

The Raving Reviewer
by Tim Reekie

Electronic Arts
2755 Campus Drive
San Mateo,CA 94403

    On the one hand, we have a strategic game; on the other hand, a shoot-em-up game. In both of the hands there is excellent graphics, imaginative sound, and exotic, fantastic creatures. And thus, joining hands as it was, Electronic Arts has given us 'ARCHON'.
The Game
    And now, we separate the hands. The first hand is played on "The strategy Screen". This screen resembles a chess board, except for the individual squares themselves! There is, indeed, white and black squares, as on any chess board, but there is also "luminance squares", which fluctuate throughtout the game in a cycle-Black-Dark-Barely Dark-Barely Light-Light-White. Dark players are the strongest on dark squares and white players are the strongest on white squares. There is also "power points" where characters can recover faster. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Recover from what? you may well ask! That brings us to...
    On the other hand-"The Combat Arena". Each player is endowed with a variety of monsters (hereafter called "icons"), each with attributes of their own. If an Icon lands on a square occupied by an Icon of the opposing army, a fight begins in the 'Combat Arena.' Weapons vary form clubs and swords to balls of fire and flaming breath. The Combat Arena is a fight to the death with each Icon's life-line displayed on either side of the screen. If this isn't enough, each army has a Wizard/Soceress with equivalent spells ranging from Shift time to Imprisonment. The game is won when one whole army is wiped out or when one army occupies all five power points. This is a rather hasty glossing over of the rules of the game but every aspect of the game is explained in detail in the excellent documentation.
    This game is easy to play after the rules are read and the abilities and limitations of each Icon is understood. Mastering the game depends on your opponent. The computer is a tricky opponent until you develop a strategy. The Challenge of the game is where I register my first complaint. This would be an extraordinarily challenging game except that a person with good skills in shoot-em-up games can easily defeat an opponent with less skills of his own. Therefore, the game may be dictated by one player's ability to 'out-draw' the other.

ARCHON screens

    The graphics are superb in that each Icon has its own shape and character. A good example is the Golem(from the light side). When moved(with the joystick), it doesn't merely slide along to its appointed square but its' arms swing, its' head weaves, and it generally golumphs along slowly making a low golumphing sound. All of the Icons make interesting sounds of some nature on both "The Strategy Screen" and the "Combat Arena".
    The documentation is, by far, the best I have seen with any game It entails in-depth explanations of both screens (strategy & combat) all Icons(including abilities, limitations, background of each and specifics of each in the combat arena such as speed, lifespan and 'reload' speed) It (explains) each of the two opposing Magicians eight spells, and includes a question answer page to clear up any specific questions that you may have. All-in-all the documentation that I will personally compare all others with,(It indeed deserves a hand).
    This is most definitely an original game with (but a tad) of the famous 'Star-Wars' chess game (players actually having it out for the privilege of taking a square). I recommend this game to anyone who is perhaps getting a trifle bored with playing the run-of-the-mill quick-draw- Mcgraw games; to anyone with a flair for the medieval, if not the fanciful, and to anyone (who can combine brain with brawn(not braun!) and emerge on top.
The Ratings
Overall Rating:9.6