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Comments (18)
dirtyvu - 31/03/2024
shocked that this game is only rated 7.6! it's a top 10 level game. it's similar to arcade chess but with a lot more strategy. even if you're a lowly piece, you still have a fighting chance against a superior opponent.
AbbotKinneyDude - 06/06/2021
I wouldn't call the ATARI version the "original prototype" because it is not, it is a released version. Call it "original", "original release", "first release of the game" but not a prototype. In comparison, the C64 version can be called a "port" because all the logic code, design came from the A8 and was ported over. This is the same for many titles of the era from US publishers such as EA, Microprose, Datasoft.
Monk - 05/06/2021
This is a fantastic, original idea made into a brilliant, superbly playable game. Who among video game players DIDN'T imagine epic battles when playing chess? Isn't it unfair that when a piece 'eats' another piece in chess, the victim piece can't fight back?

Even if the fight is against all odds, you can still fight back in this game, and yet there is a tactical element making this chesslike in that regard. The tactical and action elements are perfectly balanced, and the gameplay couldn't be tighter.

There are amazing details that rise this above 'great', like the 'brightness/darkness' determining how much power you have at any given place on the board.

Even as a kid, I always loved the variety of attacks, the ability to conjure spells and use elementals. The Shapeshifter was always my favorite, as it could adjust to anything else.

They even made the dragon properly powerful, but you can still beat it (even as a knight - but you have to be skilled).

There are many versions of this game, and in my opinion, the C64 and Atari versions are the best. Atari version is amazing being the original prototype, the C64-version is slightly refined version (Atari's multiple shades of green make it hard to know what position the 'brightness' is -exactly-', the battlegrounds have slightly less variety, the pieces don't have outlines around them, etc.)

I think Atari version might play slightly faster, though, and of course features the unimitable Atari sound effects that are so inspirational.

All in all, this game is proof that Electronic Arts DID employ people with actual original ideas and then they even greenlight those ideas. Hard to imagine nowadays, isn't it? I wish more ideas like these could be turned into wonderful games, like this one.
rave.N - 15/07/2015
More about Electronic Arts "exploding out of the gate in 1983", I'd like to see Atarimania make a duplicate entry for "Music Construction Set" here in the Games section because when you do searches like on 'music' it doesn't show unless you start from Utilities.
rave.N - 15/07/2015
Computer opponent was so easy to beat I narrowed the objective to where I had to not loose any pieces and get this, I would have all my pieces arranged in their start position when I won, so it looked like the entire opposing force was swept away at once without me even moving. I guess I must have summoned an elemental to complete my trick so as not to end up out of position. Yes one of the Top Ten games.
Jeff Fulton - 29/03/2015
I wrote up an article on game design using Atari 8-bit Archon as my model. Called Digesting Archon.

Great game, we played it a lot. Two player was the best.
Daniel Thomas MacInnes - 09/05/2011
It's amazing how Electronic Arts just exploded out of the gate in 1983. Archon I & II, Murder on the Zinderneuf, MULE, Seven Cities of Gold, One on One, Pinball Construction Set...How I wish EA today could capture just a fraction of that magic.
MalcolmM - 10/02/2011
For fans of Archon, you should try the remake Archon Classic on the PC. It has a classic mode that is faithful to the original. It also adds multiple AI levels, and four campaigns, plus lots of other extras.
1man - 30/01/2011
for those of you who are using Facebook: i created a fan page for the ol' Classic ARCHON:!/pages/Classic-ARCHON/115144945167519

hope to find you there, before the masters intervene, lol.
stefan berner - 31/05/2010
Great Game !! Archon and MULE are my most played games on this time. Both are fantastic multiplayer titles we played this games so many night´s
Scott Wozniak - 15/09/2008
MASTERPIECE. MIND-BLOWING. INFINITELY REPLAYABLE. I wonder how many hours of my life were spent on this one? Paul Reiche III made a game called "The Unholy War" in 1998 for the Playstation that is a spiritual successor to Archon. My highest recommendation. 10/10.
Wesley Connally - 19/01/2008
Archon was actually available on diskette. I still own it. It still works. You do have to use Translator though.
Greg B. - 21/10/2007
Yep, another all-time classic. Loosely inspired by the 3d-chess game in Star Wars, Archon is a masterful combination of chess-like strategy and arcade action. And yes, once you learn how to beat the computer, only another player will do. And, like Chess, you only get better at the game when you get clobbered at it (at least in my case).'s really apparent that this game is from another time, back when software companies weren't afraid to try something NEW. Those were the days...
Pengwin - 23/07/2007
This was the first disk game I purchased, and remains to this day, one of my favourites.
The idea of chess with arcade combat was genius. The computer opponent was a little easy to beat, once you'd worked out each characters strengths and weaknesses, but against a human, this game was utterly fantastic.
Jim Kuchera - 30/12/2006
There is no question that this is one of the 'top ten' for the 8-bitter. It's not often that strategy plus quick eye/hand coordination are fused together with such beauty. The computer is actually easier to beat than a quick-handed flesh and blood opponent. I always hated chess, but this game showed me that chess can live effectively in a new form.

A little aside: the game is available not only on disk but cartridge as well. It was 'blue boxed' and still available at a reasonable price on eBay. I still play this one on my old 800 tank, and love it.
Jeff - 12/12/2006
This has to be one of the greatest games of all time, on any platform. 2 player mode is fantastic and there is no game more pure than this. 10/10
Deathdealer - 05/10/2006
Great mix of strategy and action. Hard to beat a game like this.
Thomas Smailus - 17/01/2006
This was one of THE classic Atari games that I played over and over again. Many afternoons, after school in the computer lab. Its sequel even pulled in my English teacher for some gameplay.


Archon atari screenshot
Archon atari screenshot
Archon atari screenshot
Archon atari screenshot
Archon atari screenshot


GenreBoard Game - MiscellaneousYear1987
LanguageMachine LanguagePublisherAtari
ControlsJoystickDeveloperFree Fall Associates
Players1, 1 vs. 2, DemoCountryUSA

Westfall, Anne / Freeman, Jon
Reiche, Paul

Graphic Artist(s)


Medium Cartridge


Cover Artist(s)McMacken, DaveSerialRX8092
Dumpdownload atari Archon Download

Additional Comments

Other versions with the same title:

Ariolasoft UK, Electronic Arts.

Many thanks to RossPK for scanning the instructions!


Archon Atari cartridge scan Archon Atari cartridge scan Archon Atari cartridge scan


Archon Atari instructions Archon Atari instructions Archon Atari instructions Archon Atari instructions Archon Atari instructions Archon Atari instructions Archon Atari instructions Archon Atari instructions

Book / Magazine Reviews

 Electronic Games · January, 1984

The forces of Light and Darkness square off in mortal combat in a quest to control an ever-changing playfield in this fascinating contest that borrows elements from sorcery, mythology and chess.

The ultimate object of Archon is to place a game icon (a character representing either the Dark or Light side) on each of the five power points symmetrically placed on a checkerboard-like... [more]

 Atari User · July, 1988

You are about to enter the ultimate battle in the Universe – the struggle between the powers of light and darkness. The fate of the world rests in your hands. This is a futuristic version of chess fought over two battlegrounds – strategy and combat screens. The first is divided into squares like a chess board, with you and your opponent taking turns to move your pieces – legions of mythical... [more]

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