archon screen

React Game's iPhone remake of the classic 1983 EA game of light and dark, Archon, has tonight appeared in the App Store [link].

Archon is hailed as a perfect hybrid of strategy and fast-action combat. You take control of either the Light or Dark team, each with their unique line-up of creatures. Strategically move your pieces on the chess-like board to capture squares. If you move onto an enemy square however, real-time battle ensues in the Combat Arena! Dodge with your Dragon or weave with your Unicorn and defeat your enemy. The combat victor captures the square on the Strategy Board. You win a game by annihilating your opponent's team or claiming all 5 “Power Squares.”

archon 1As a long-time fan of the '80s original, I was thrilled to hear that a licensed port of the game was headed to the iPhone....but I also harbored reservations.  Archon is a game that really stands the test of time.  I was afraid that the iPhone remake would dispense with the true spirit of the game and deliver an over-the-top, ultramodern experience baring little resemeblance to the nearly perfect original.  Happily, it seems my fears were unfounded.

Archon for the iPhone is, well, Archon -- for the iPhone.  Oh, the reworked game features enhanced graphics and sound, but it is highly similar to the 8-bit original and the spirit is most definitely preserved.

On the game board, pieces are moved with tap controls, and when action shifts to the battle arena, an on-screen D-pad with a tap to fire in the direction of motion are used by default, with the option of accelerometer based movement controls.  The controls work as well as the typical D-pad scenario, but the all-important diagonal shots can be tricky to smoothly execute. The game comes with three difficulty levels (novice, average, adept) with novice and average both seemed too easy, while adept started offering some challenge. The game only offers a single "classic" single player mode in the first version, though ReactGames has suggested they are looking into campaign, multiplayer and more in the future.

archon 2Arena combat may involve combatants of highly differing attack techniques.  Unicorn fires high-speed, low-damage bolts.  Phoenix is invincible during its fire-plume attack.  Golem throws low-speed, high-damage boulders.  Knight delivers a close-range, high-damage attack.  And the overall power of each is affected by the shade of the board square on which it sits; light pieces are more powerful the lighter the square, dark pieces are more powerful the darker the square -- and the shade of each square changes as time progresses in the game.  In all, it makes for a series of battles that require real skill with each attach technique in order to emerge victorious.

The game's audio has been notably modernized as compared to the original and a variety of battleground backdrop graphics are provided.  It's basically the same  Archon, packaged to appeal to modern players. There had been some talk that we'd see a playmode featuring the original, retro graphics set, but that option isn't apparent at first glance.

Those unfamiliar with the title should not confuse Archon with a Battle Chess-style title where gameplay is entirely a board-based strategy affair, with fighting sequences that are nothing more than eye-candy.  In Archon, once battle is waged, it's up to the player to white-knuckle it to victory. And at a price-point of $3.99, it's a title certainly worth a look if you're a fan of the original, though the game offers only the one single player mode at this time.

App Store Link: Archon, $3.99

TouchArcade Rating

  • iPhoneGamer

    I'm all over this RIGHT NOW.

  • Adams Immersive

    I'm sure I'll get this anyway, but Internet multiplayer would really make it great.

    Thanks for the reminder about diagonals--now I remember the satisfaction of a good long-range diagonal shot, properly gauging the non-square aspect ratio of Amiga pixels 🙂

    P.S. Basilisk is my favorite.

  • Psionic

    Bought it.. very nice rendition. AI is really, really lame on novice. Tried adept next and it was mildly difficult.. don't know about the autoshoot on round start tho, and the banshee needs some tuning. I remember reading the blog about the difficulty being too hard at one point, can we have a 'master' difficulty?

    Also, multiplayer please 🙂


  • Ladislav Soukup

    Perfect remake of GREAT game:D
    Love the original 8bit version, the iPhone remake is really GREAT!

    This is another "must have" game (for me). Also, this game can and will attract non-fans as it is smooth, nice and well done. 😀

  • majormauser

    I want to totally go ga ga over Archon finally coming out for anthing. But the Graphics are small and really need some work. The Background color really makes the Pieces hard to see. A simple Retro old school approach would have worked better on the iphone. This is a very simple literal translation of Archon. No other options or game types are provided. They updated the Graphics yes but its my only real complaint.

  • Commander Jameson

    I'll wait till the Wi fi multiplayer. This classic was aways about the 2 player experience for me.

  • as128

    Crazy dope!!! I played a lot of Archon back in the day.

  • Kevin

    Enjoyable game. Nailed it except for difficulty needs to be increased. AI pretty easy on all difficulty settings.

  • cookiemonster

    yes! i loved this game, so glad someone redid it

  • Adams Immersive

    I'm glad the graphics are updated: this game isn't just nostalgia for me, the actual game play is fun!

    Anyway, if there were a retro mode, I'd want Amiga graphics, not the hard-core original pixellated ones that other people know and love.

    A black background option (with the left-side color indicating the square color?) might be nice.

  • Skip

    Is the updated tune from the video in the game? Love it 🙂

  • WDS

    Please consider doing Archon II: Adept and M.U.L.E. as well!

  • Menneisyys

    1. purchased it. Excellent, unlike many of the other remakes - particularly the in-game music. Highly recommended!

    2. controlling is indeed VERY hard, which makes the game much-much harder than it ought to be. I *really* hope someone comes up with a decent external controller with a decent D-pad.

  • yesplease

    1. also just purchased it, I am so happy
    2. figured out how to control it:
    when you want to move, then move
    when you want to shoot, first move to the direction you want to shoot at. Second get your fingers out of the d-pad and than fire. That way you also master the diagonal shots, which otherwise (with your fingers always in the d-pad) become a little bit unpredictable.
    3. I am missing the 2player mode via bluetoot, which is not in this version1.0

  • Andy

    I'd pay whatever they asked if someone were to update M.U.L.E.

    Okay, up to 7.99. But still.

  • James

    Wow is this game awsome or what!!! I have waited years for this thing to be redone. I down loaded it last night and played it a few times then my kids took it away from me and i haven't been able to get it back... the younger generation is hooked too. Highly reccomend this game!!!

  • JD

    Only 1 Player classic so far, and the game has one extreme exploit;
    Pick a unit, move it onto the enemy's unit.
    Tap another of your units.
    Voila, the enemy's unit is magically gone/dead, and you can go right ahead and move any unit of yours again.

    I just beat the game on adept in 1 minute 42 with a single knight.
    Maybe something to be fixed in v1.1? 😛

  • Tim

    M.U.L.E. = Greatest Game Ever!

  • Ahiru

    have you guys read the martin jajam's (IGN programmer, if it's him that is) review on appstore?! yo arn, or whoever, could you check if that info is true?! (that he programmer didn't really got credit for it)

  • Geoff

    The info is true, to the best of my knowledge. I know Martin and have worked with him on several video games. He called me when the publisher stopped payment on his check.

  • Martin Jajam

    Lawsuit, Oct 1st (today) Jajam v.s. React Games! React Game lost. It should be public record now.

  • Martin Jajam

    Public record... I love it! No longer hear-say.