Title Us N' Them Game Type Strategy Authors 2 Bit Productions - http://www.2bp.com/ (1) Players 1 or 2 HD Installable Yes Compatibility All (2) Available Aminet game/misc/UsNThem.lha Submission Joachim Froholt Profiled Reviewer Review The name might not give it away, but Us N' Them is actually an accurate Amiga conversion of the C64 classic, Archon. Archon is, for those of you who don't know, a turn based strategy game which looks much like chess. The theme is the classic battle between good and evil (light and dark). Archon was created by Jon Freeman, Anne Westfall and Paul Reiche III (3), and published by Electronic Arts. I'll try to describe how the game works. Each side has 18 units. Although none of the units are similar, the sides are evenly matched. The playing board, viewed from above, consists of 9x9 squares and, like in chess, each unit occupies one square. You can move one piece in each turn. If you move your piece onto a square all ready occupied by a unit from the opposing side, battle will ensue. The battle will take you to a different screen, where you can control your unit with the joystick. The goal on this screen is to wipe out the other unit present. As you control the battles yourself, your strategy can't be the same as it would be if you were playing a game like chess, because there's no guarantee that the attacker will win the battle. The outcome will be determined by your own skill, but you can be helped or hindered by your decisions in the strategic phase. Every unit behaves differently, and you'll find that they've all got different strengths and weaknesses. You've got to consider this when you attack. To make things more interesting, the colour of the square the defending unit stands on will affect the amount of health that the units carries with them into battle. Dark units thrive on dark squares, light units have an advantage on light squares. In addition to the white and black squares, there are some squares which change colour during play (from black to white and black again). Careful planning is neccesary unless you want to risk having valuable units stuck on squares of the "wrong" colour. There are a wide range of unit types at your disposal. You've got your basic foot soldiers who wield swords or clubs, you've got fast units who shoot, slow and strong units who hurl stones, and much more. My favourite unit is the Banshee, which can damage the enemies by screaming (scaring them to death :)). The target has to be pretty close for the scream to have any effect, but the banshee moves very fast, and will catch up with most slower units in no time. Each side has a queen-type unit. In addition to being strong, this unit can also cast magic spells. You've got a number of spells at your disposal, and a well-used spell can give you a real advantage. Spells range from heal to revival (where one of your units are raised from the dead), to imprison and teleport. Each spell can be used only once, so use them wisely. The goal of Archon (and, of course, Us N' Them) is either to destroy all units of the opposing force, or to occupy all the five power points on the playing board. These power points are special, because they make the unit standing on them immune to magic. Three of the power points are placed on squares which change colour, while the remaining two are on black and white squares (and usually defended by very strong units, so they are very tough to get). The presentation is functional. The graphics are very small, but they're much better than the original C64 graphics. I'm not sure if the game would work with bigger graphics. The sound is ok, too, and I like the title music a lot. The sound effects are sparse, but well used. This kind of game doesn't need fancy graphics or megabytes of sound effects, it just need to be playable. Thankfully, Us N' Them is very playable. It is hard to say just what makes this game a winner. It's got just the right mix of strategy and arcade action, and, like chess, it is easy to get into, but hard to fully master. The computer opponent is intelligent (apparently much more intelligent than the original Commodore 64 AI), and if he's too weak (or strong) for you, then you can play against a friend. There's not much more to say. This game is incredibly playable, and it offers plenty of longevity. Considering the fact that it is also free, this is a game which should not be missed by any Amiga owner who hasn't played the (commercial) Amiga version of Archon, or who remember Archon from the good old C64 days. Log onto your local Aminet mirror and download Us N' Them. You won't regret it. There's plenty of Archon resources on the web, and as Us N' Them is a very accurate clone, these resources will be useful for Us N' Them players as well. The documentation that comes with Us N' Them covers the game well, but you'll find lot's of extra info & hints on the web. I have collected some addresses for you here: http://www.concentric.net/~Beruche/archon.htm - The Archon FAQ http://www.slip.net/~alby/archonmain.html - The Archon Shrine Notes: 1. 2 Bit Productions are currently busy with their new Play by Mail game, Storm of the Eye. This is available for both Amiga and PC computers, and you cand find more info about it on their website: http://www.2bp.com/ 2. The readme file claims that the game needs an accellerated A1200 (28 Mhz) to run at full speed, but I've played the game on a standard A1200 with no problems. It might run better on my 030/50, but it was certainly playable on the standard A1200. 3. Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford later created my all time favourite PC game: Star Control II (Published by Accolade).