Winter!: Prepare for holiday gaming!
EVERYONE, Animated Violence
Free Fall Associates
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Archon Ultra, an upgrade to the original 1984 title, is essentially chess for action gamers. Action takes place on a chessboard-like playing field with players controlling either light or dark pieces against a human or computer-controlled opponent. Players take turns and claim victory by capturing all five "power point" squares on the board or exterminating the opponent's entire army.
The game is different from chess due to a unique piece-capture model. When a piece moves onto a square that's already occupied by an opponent's piece, a one-on-one combat mode ensues. Each piece has a health bar, one direct method of attack, and one indirect attack or defensive maneuver. Battle is joined until one piece is destroyed by losing its entire health bar, with the victorious piece controlling the square.
Another distinguishing characteristic is the use of a wizard or sorceress piece to cast spells in lieu of moving a unit. Spells offer effects like teleportation, healing or reviving damaged or dead pieces, or summoning "elementals" to do combat with enemy pieces. The same spell can't be cast twice in any one game, so the timing of spell usage becomes an important part of game strategy.
Archon Ultra, with its spells and combat model, offers an interesting and enjoyable variation to chess. Action gamers who find standard chess too slow will enjoy the combat sequences, while chess-players will enjoy the strategic elements. Unfortunately, the game is really just Archon with updated graphics and modem support. The improved graphics are fairly good, and are a significant improvement over the original's blocky four-color graphics, but beneath the facelift, Archon Ultra offers nothing new.
OVERALL RATING: 5 ~ Kyle Knight, All Game Guide