Video Game / Archon
Archon: The Light and the Dark is a strategy game designed by Paul Reiche III and Jon Freeman and programmed by Anne Westfall (whose production company was Freefall Software), originally released in 1983 for Atari 8-Bit Computers and later ported to other computer systems (as well as the Nintendo Entertainment System). The game is very similar to chess, but instead of piece capturing being automatic, when two pieces meet on the same square, they are transported into a two-dimensional arena where they have to fight for survival.

Each side is given eighteen units - seventeen fighters and one spell-casting piece. The game ends when one side eliminates the other side's fighters, or if one side takes control of all five designated "power points" (flashing squares on the board that can't be targeted by magic). There are also light and dark squares on both sides of the board, as well as color-neutral squares that cycle between light and dark as the game goes on. Units that are fought on squares of their color get a HP advantage, while units on opposites colors (e.g. a dark unit on a light square) have their hit points reduced. Careful unit placement and type matching are essential to claiming victory over your opponent.

The sequel, Archon II: Adept, was more complex and focused on the four elements rather than light and dark. The game did not fare nearly as well as its predecessor. Archon III: Exciter was a Fan Sequel that tweaked Adept, and was fairly slow-paced and buggy.

Not to be confused with Achron.

This game contains examples of:

  • Anti-Magic: Any unit standing on a "power point" cannot be targeted by magic spells.
  • Cast from Hit Points: The Wizard and Sorceress start with seven spells each. Every time they use one, it takes a little bit away from their maximum HP when they enter combat.
  • Creator Couple: Jon Freeman and Anne Westfall. invoked
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: While very difficult, killing a high-level piece with a Knight or Goblin is immensely satisfying.
  • Ditto Fighter: The Shapeshifter takes on the form and attributes of whatever Light-side piece it is fighting against.
  • The Dragon: The Dark forces have a literal Dragon, who is more powerful in every way than any of the other Dark pieces, including their leader, the Sorceress. The equivalent for the Light forces is the Djinni. The Shapeshifter for Dark and the Phoenix for Light could also qualify as their respective side's Dragons, but the Phoenix's lack of attack range and the fact that the Shapeshifter is only ever as strong as its opponent made them just a little too quirky to be real mobile slaughterhouses.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: In Compute!'s Gazette November 1984 page 54, Jon Freeman states that there was a difficulty factor that is not visible to the user. However, it's not noticeable because it adjusts in little increments.
    • In extreme cases some aspects of this are noticeable. For example, load up the sequel, lose one initial game to the AI badly enough, play Chaos in a rematch, and for your first fight attack a high-end piece with the tough but far too slow Behemoth; you'll find your enemy freezing to telegraph each attack, hopefully letting you dodge and get in close.
  • Elemental Powers: The "Summon Elemental" spell randomly calls forth a fire, water, wind, or earth elemental to fight the enemy.
  • Geo Effects: One side is stronger when the battle square is light and the other is strong when it's dark.
  • The Goomba: Knights and Goblins have the lowest HP and shortest attack range of all pieces, and are generally at the mercy of any unit with a ranged attack.
  • Glass Cannon: The Unicorn. It was fast, shot fast bullets, but had relatively low hit points for a high level unit.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: The banshee can use its voice to attack while moving around.
  • Mighty Glacier: The Golems, Trolls and Earth Elementals are the slowest-moving pieces in the game, but they also have some of the highest HP ratings.
  • Padded Sumo Gameplay: Banshee vs. Phoenix or Dark Phoenix vs. Light Phoenix.
  • Spiritual Successor:
  • Teleporters and Transporters: The "Teleport" spell allows a character to move one unit on top of another, while the "Exchange" spell allows them to swap two units' positions (they have to be on opposing sides for it to work). The Wizard and Sorceress themselves move about by teleporting instead of walking or flying like most other pieces.
  • Video Game Remake: Archon Classic, an independently-developed revival released in 2010 which includes a Conquest mode (story mode), power-ups, and the ability for your units to level up after victories.