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Archon: The Light and the Dark is a strategy game designed by Paul Reiche III and Jon Freeman and programmed by Anne Westfall, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Which can result in some stunningly dull fights, especially a Light Phoenix vs. Dark Phoenix battle. Archon Ultra alleviates this somewhat, by giving the Phoenix a ranged homing feather as a secondary attack.
- 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.
- 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.
- Spiritual Successor: Wrath Unleashed, released in 2004 for PlayStation 2 and Xbox.
- 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.