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Electronic Arts
Board Game
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Dave Nicholls, Ross Holman, Roger Willis
Chris Bourne

Ross: This is a strategy game that pits the forces of good against those of evil. You're greeted by the opposing forces lined up on either side of a board that chess players will no doubt recognise. At the start you're given the option of controlling the good guys or the bad guys, and whether to battle it out with the computer. You've got 18 pieces at your disposal and they can all move different distances though there are no restrictions on the direction.

But that's where the similarity with chess ends. In Archon, each character earns the right to take over an occupied square by beating the opposition in a bout of single-handed combat. There are many different forms of defence some characters throw fireballs, some wield swords, while others generate a deadly force field. This mystic fisticuffs takes place on a separate screen with the characters' respective strengths shown by a bar at each side. Each time you're hit this strength reduces until one of the pieces is completely clobbered. Each side also has one magical being that can cast spells on the opposition. The ones to watch out for are the revive and heal spells that'll bring a defeated piece back to life or restore its strength.

To move the pieces, you must position a square on the chosen character's symbol and then press the key to pick it up. From there you can move it and drop it in the desired location. Although the board is chequered black and white, there are also some grey squares - the colour of the square a piece occupies will affect its fighting fortunes. The forces of darkness for example, do best on black squares. An added complication are the five power points positioned like a cross on the board. These squares have the power to restore strength and to protect from magic - occupy all five and you're automatically the winner.

At first, Archon appears quite simple, but there's an underlying complexity to it that offers a formidable challenge. The combat screen is marred by jerky graphics and be warned, the computer's an annoyingly good shot. But then I always was a bad loser. 3/5 HIT

Roger: More of a boring game than board game, but both? 2/5 MISS

Dave: A strategy game and an arcade game in one package can't be bad (who says? Ed). The computer plays a decent game, and I haven't yet come close to beating it. Still, it's got me hooked, so I'll crack on. 2.5/5 HIT


Screenshot Text

Use the revive spell to bring back to life any of your lost characters - but make sure it's one of the strongest. There's no point in reviving a knight when you've got a wizard waiting in the wings.

Use this box to indicate the character you want to move - and where you want to move him. Then tap the fire button and pow!

Try this for openers - before the opposition has time to rally, take out their main man. If you get the strongest character early on, it'll give you the edge.

A tip if you're playing the computer - move in close and then nip in and out of your opponent's firing line. That way you'll fool him into firing and you'll have as much time as it takes his missile to reach the other side of the screen to pump him full of lead. Go on, make my day punk!

These objects just get in the way but if you use them to good effect you can use them as defence shields.

On the combat scree get your chosen battle warrior body-poppin' - the more jerky his movements are, the less chance you have of being hit.