Acorn Archimedes [OT]

I know everyone was rushing to be the one to make the Archimedes OT. Sorry, I beat you to it.

If you didn’t grow up in the UK then chances are you haven’t seen one of these computers in real life. It was overshadowed by other systems like the Commodore Amiga and IBM PC, and didn’t have a huge number of good exclusive games, but it has enough cool stuff to intrigue me.


Various models were released between 1987 and 1992. I’m not going to talk about each one but the wiki gives a list, and some later models don’t use the Archimedes name.

This was powerful hardware in the late '80s. It had a 32-bit RISC processor and was able to handle 3d graphics well for its time. For the system’s launch, the technological showpiece was Lander, a demo of a polygon shooter unlike anything the home market had seen before. The full game was released under the name Zarch. It’s a cool game but the controls take some getting used to. It was later ported to other computers as Virus and spawned imitators like Zeewolf and modern remakes.


Zarch was followed by another title using the same engine, a tank action game called Conqueror. Both Zarch and Conqueror were developed by David Braben of Elite fame. And speaking of Elite, the Archimedes got a remake of it in 1991. Space sim/trading games aren’t my cup of tea (and as groundbreaking as the original was I think it kind of overshadows its arguably more impressive contemporary, FTL Software’s SunDog: Frozen Legacy) but the Archimedes remake has gotten a lot of praise from fans with many considering it the best version.

Another game I consider ahead of its time is Software 42’s Ixion from 1992. That was a huge year for first-person games on PC because of id’s Wolfenstein 3D and Blue Sky’s Ultima Underworld. Ixion may not have the notoriety of those (and doesn’t hold up as well) but like them, it was a like a glimpse into the future. It was a smooth scrolling, 3d FPS/Adventure game with open-ended design. It had vehicles you could enter, both indoor and outdoor environments, and NPCs to talk to. It continued on the foundation laid before it by companies like Novagen, Incentive Software, and Bethesda.


Ixion has no relation to the unreleased Sega arcade game with the same name. Sega’s influence is noticeable in an earlier Archimedes game, though. The Fourth Dimension’s E-Type was a driving game very much in the vein of OutRun. I found its mouse controls awkward but for a home racing game from 1989, the graphics are impressive, very smooth.

It was also available on older Acorn computers and got a sequel on Archimedes in 1994.

A bunch of Fourth Dimensions’ games were made by Gordon J. Key. He followed up E-Type with a polygon F1 racer in 1990 called Powerband and also made a 3d shooter called Apocalypse that year.

One of the most well known Archimedes shooters was Starfighter 3000, a free-roaming, mission-based 3d game. It was remade a couple years later for 3DO, DOS, Playstation and Saturn but by then it had a lot more competition and so those versions never stood out as much. I prefer the visual style of the Archimedes version anyway.

AA-Starfighter 3000

By 1995, consoles (and current PCs) were doing some really impressive 3d stuff so the Archimedes didn’t stand out much. Ixion co-creator Tom Cooper was still supporting the platform, though (although he was soon hired by Psygnosis/Sony). Published by Eclipse, DarkWood was a colourful 3d action-adventure before they had become mainstream.


So far I only mentioned 3d stuff but there were plenty of 2d games on the system. Tom Cooper made a lot of cartoony Archimedes games but the one that stood out the most for me is Hamsters. On the surface it just looked like another one of the millions of '90s mascot platformers but the gameplay wasn’t so typical. It’s hard to explain but both attacking and jumping are done with the same hammer swinging move. If an enemy’s there, you’ll crush it. If just the ground is there, you’ll flip when your hammer hits it causing you to jump so positioning is important. I’m not fond of the premise which is smashing the guts out of innocent animals before the time runs out but it was an addictive game.


Superior Software’s Technodream (1993) was inspired by R-Type.


It’s a late budget release (from around 2000) but I really want to try Overload. The publisher’s website is long gone so I’m having trouble finding the demo or game to try. It looks like an awesome take on Rare’s Jetpac series, Lunar Jetman especially.


Another game that fascinates me is the remake of the 1987 System 3 classic The Last Ninja. Previous ports stuck close to the visual style of the original Commodore 64 game but the rare 1992 Archimedes version by Superior Software looked completely different despite keeping the 3/4 isometric perspective. The graphic detail was way higher. I thought it looked great but it’s just not the signature Last Ninja visual style not to mention it has an inferior (but still decent) new soundtrack. The lack of joystick support (as far as I can tell) ruined the controls for me. It was just an odd version of the game.

AA-Last Ninja

Unlike The Last Ninja, the majority of ports on the system stuck closely to their source materials, for example: Alone in the Dark, Flashback, and Lemmings.




More of AcornGamez’s videos of Archimedes games can be found here -

1 Like

This OT is actually my first time reading about this platform. I’ve never heard of it.

Very cool thread.

Same. This is fascinating.

My friends dad used to bring one home from the school he worked at in the holidays. As well as e-type there was some game where you had to stop the world blowing up and had to control different characters, with I assume, different abilities. No idea what that was called. Was a big step us from the spectrums we had but obviously with far less games

These obscure computer systems are my retro blindspot. Wouldn’t actually get into the stuff, personally, but I love reading about it.

Holy fucking shit

Absolute nostalgia overload. I grew up with the BBC Micro back in first school, then in later years the Acorn Archimedes, specifically this model:

I’ve been looking for one on ebay for a while, I’ll probably get one sooner or later. We used to absolutely love the flight sim Chocks Away that was on it.

edit: that reminds me, I’m gonna post a BBC Micro thread later!

oh for fucks sake…

£300. And not even in great condition. :frowning:

That was a successor to the BBC Micro, right? It’s surprising Acorn never tried to expand their market to at least the rest of Europe. Or maybe they tried, but I had never heard of these computers until a few years ago.

Fantastic OT for a product I never knew existed !

Great thread. I had heard of the machine due to its excellent version of Elite, tried it and Zarch, but hadn’t tried much else. In general old European PCs are a big ol gap for me.

DarkWood looks… ugly, honestly, but that pic is scratching this curiosity I guess I have for janky ambitious early attempts at 3D third-person games.

Such a cool-looking computer (although someone not into old computers might mistake it with an Amiga 500 at first glance), I’m totally in love with the green/red function keys! :heart_eyes:

I first learned it existed when one of the gaming magazines I read in the early 90s reviewed a puzzle game named Bambuzle for it. I thought it looked kind of impressive as it seemed to display more shades of colors than the average Amiga game, but looking at it now, it doesn’t seem to be anything to write home about.

Too bad the Archimedes seemed to be ill-equipped for side-scrolling action games, apparently it didn’t come with hardware scrolling/sprites which made everything run super choppy if the couple gameplay videos available on Youtube are anything to go by.

I love this form factor. It’s too bad that no manufacturers of IBM-PC compatibles ever tried to make them in that shape.

An hour long Archimedes talk came out yesterday. The technical stuff goes over my head but it’s still cool that it’s being talked about.