The Light. The Dark. The Crystite.
August 19, 2010 2:02 PM   Subscribe

Archon and M.U.L.E. Two of the best 8-bit games ever made, in the elder days when Electronic Arts was the best gaming company around. Play them again in modern re-creations.
posted by bitmage (33 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Archon was (is) indeed awesome, but IIRC (I haven't played in about 20 years) you were always playing at just a bit of a disadvantage if you picked the "Dark" side, which was a bit annoying.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:12 PM on August 19, 2010

Planet M.U.L.E. previously (the above re-creations link).

Original Archon emulated online previously (not covered above).
posted by filthy light thief at 2:12 PM on August 19, 2010

Planet MULE is made with the support and input, I hear, of the Bunten estate, so it is as definitive a modern version of the game as there can be. We've had LOTS of games of the Atari 800 version lately, it holds up.
posted by JHarris at 2:17 PM on August 19, 2010

Archon wins so hard... I loved that game on the Apple IIe.
posted by Spacelegoman at 2:22 PM on August 19, 2010

M.U.L.E. t-shirt?!

posted by adamdschneider at 2:24 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was always envious of my mate who had the rare (in the UK at least) and expensive 1541 floppy drive and so could play Archon, which IIRC was disk only.
posted by Artw at 2:28 PM on August 19, 2010

Oh, yeah. Archon and M.U.L.E. Two of the bestest games EVAH.

(and I just told everyone who knows me that the MULE t-shirt is a WANT for gift giving.)
posted by hippybear at 2:29 PM on August 19, 2010

The NES versions of both of these are available to play online via

Archon, M.U.L.E.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:33 PM on August 19, 2010

Archon on the atari 800xl took so much of my youth (we also used it as a way to decide who should make tea). MULE, however, I had as a copy with no instructions, so I used to spend hours trying to work out what to do. Gave up in the end and played Universe ( that was complex) and Alternate Reality instead.

Then went back to Archon.
posted by ciderwoman at 2:35 PM on August 19, 2010

posted by seanmpuckett at 2:50 PM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Wow, reading the list of the Electronic Arts games is a real trip down memory lane. Mail Order Monsters! Racing Destruction Set! Seven Cities of Gold! Ultimate Wizard! Some of which I rented by the week (it's hard to imagine now that those diskettes really held up long enough for the store to recoup its investment) and some of which I got as copies from a friend (a 10-year-old just doesn't get copyright, or certainly didn't in the 90s--if it's any consolation, my copy of fast hack'em was pirated too).

Scanning through lists of Electronic Arts games on the Commodore 64, I haven't managed to remember the name of one favorite that I was pretty sure EA published. It was an isometric view action game where you had to enter a series of dungeons to get some treasures. Each dungeon was predesigned with multiple screens and featured ladders and enemies to avoid. Ring any bells?
posted by jepler at 2:59 PM on August 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

Oooooooo, seven cities of gold
posted by ciderwoman at 3:03 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

jepler, part of the Apshai series perhaps? published by Epyx, though, not EA.
posted by radiosilents at 3:21 PM on August 19, 2010

Aha! I was thinking about Realm of Impossibility.
posted by jepler at 3:25 PM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

It's really gratifying to learn that a game you loved that you thought no one else even knew about was in fact widely appreciated (in this case, Archon).
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:38 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Back when massive asteroids hitting the surface of the planet were something to be celebrated, not feared.
posted by Wataki at 3:48 PM on August 19, 2010

Archon and Spy Vs. Spy on the C64, man. I could spend all day on either one.
posted by ambulance blues at 4:13 PM on August 19, 2010

This made me go and track down my other favourite atari 800xl game, Universe. This reviewer was obviously also impressed by it but got considerably further than I did.

Anyone else manage to get into the omnitrend Universe, er, universe?
posted by ciderwoman at 4:20 PM on August 19, 2010

Oh, and if you did, you might be interested in reading the manual again.

Considering the game is nearly thirty years old, that's some manual.
posted by ciderwoman at 4:22 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

OK now do Mail Order Monsters already (not to be an ingrate but how was this not remade at the height of Pokemon fever?)
posted by jtron at 5:32 PM on August 19, 2010

Archon memories:

I was the best player in a small group of friends. My technique was to teleport a unicorn onto the opposing dragon as move one, kill it, move over and kill the Sorceress as my move two, duck as opponent throws joystick at me and stomps away...

There was some sort of US Championship at one point, and I wanted to go. Alas, my parents didn't see the need to fly me to another city to play video games. I coulda been a contender.

When I first got Archon, it would only run for a minute or two on my Atari 600XL before crashing. I called EA tech support, and he had me unplug and open up the external 64K off-brand RAM expansion. He then diagnosed the ram chips it was made up of as being too slow. Fortunately they were socketed, so I was able to replace them. I can't imagine getting this level of support today.

The MULE remake is pitch-perfect - the only changes I've noted are that it's easier to place a MULE and there is no option for collusion. Archon is also good, but the new attacks alter the game considerably and the round timing in three player battles is strange.
posted by bitmage at 5:43 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


next some fucker's going to post a Pool of Radiance emulator and I'm going to lose a few hours killing mercenaries for their magic items.
posted by COBRA! at 5:48 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, I still have trouble accepting the current state of EA as a fairly shitty game company, when I remember them dropping so much gold into my 1541 in the 80s.
posted by COBRA! at 5:48 PM on August 19, 2010 [4 favorites]

(I should note that the new attacks and other changes in Archon can be turned off for the old-school experience.)
posted by bitmage at 6:16 PM on August 19, 2010


Oh wait, not that Archon.
posted by mkb at 6:19 PM on August 19, 2010

Planet M.U.L.E. gets through the login screen, takes me to the little room where you can pick a game, and promptly crashes. So I guess I will not be forsaking career and family in order to relive my teen years. In a badly-packed box in a storage unit miles away, my C64 is quietly chuckling.
posted by mittens at 6:22 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

The NES versions of both of these are available to play online via

Do not play these, they're pretty bad. Especially NES MULE, it's horrible.
posted by JHarris at 7:13 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Archon was so bad-ass. I played the shifter incessantly to vex my foes! I was good at unicorn so I'd grubble over there and kill it first thing, and then it was ON!
posted by Mister_A at 7:19 PM on August 19, 2010

Yeah, I was going to say, the NES MULE is legendarily terrible.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:27 PM on August 19, 2010

Archon. That game caused so many fights between my brother and I...we had only one joystick, so one of us (usually me) was stuck trying to fight from the keyboard, which absolutely sucked and pretty much guaranteed that you had no chance against the other player.

I wanted to love that game.
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:13 PM on August 19, 2010

I liked the knights and goblins. They were cannon fodder, but they were plentiful. And occasionally, I could get into a zone, dodging around a slower-moving shooter and clubbing him/her/it to death. Not really a winning strategy, unless your goal is to reduce your opponent to a state of disbelieving humiliation. Also, nothing pisses off a shape-shifter user more than facing off against an endless series of knights.

Them unicorns were tough, but I'd think a sorceress could take one, especially on her home square.
posted by Humanzee at 4:46 AM on August 20, 2010

Huh. Archon and M.U.L.E. are both units in Starcraft 2.
posted by delmoi at 12:29 PM on August 20, 2010

seanmpuckett, I hear ya! I could tell when to change various disks based on the disk chatter of the ol' 1541.
posted by imneuromancer at 1:23 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

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