GOGgles On For Archimedean Dynasty, Albion, Anno 1602

“Anyone have fond memories of Albion?” asks Adam in the RPS treehouse, perched on his stump. “On GOG now.” If we were ’50s newsmen wearing three-piece suits and hats, keeping whiskey in our desk drawer (nowadays, it sits on the desk), staring at our secretary’s gams, and saying ‘scoop’ unironically, we’d call that ‘burying the lede’.

Yes, GOG has added Albion, but as part of a trio of freshly unearthed Ubisoft games from the 1990s that also includes Anno 1602 (or 1602 A.D., for our friends in the colonies) and – here’s the big one for me – Archimedean flipping Dynasty, the sc-fi submarine sim precursor to AquaNox.

1996’s Archimedia Dynasty is one of those games I played a cover disc demo of over and over, but never actually played in full. While games like Privateer and Wing Commander were zipping around in space, Archimedia Dynasty dragged similar ship action down into murky waters of the post-apocalyptic future. Across a linear single-player campaign, you could upgrade and kit out your sub with different weapons and gear. Skimmy across the seabed and around rocks made it play quite differently to your average ’90s space game too. Or at least as far as I remember. It’s been a while – 19 years or so. AD is £3.89 on GOG.

Anno 1602, the colony-building strategy game which kicked off a fine series, is £6.49. I respect later Annos but never played 1602, so, er, how is it gang?

As for Albion (£3.89), I must repeat Adam’s question: “Anyone have fond memories of Albion?”

(Ubisoft didn’t make or publish any of these, for the record, but picked them up in mergers and acquisitions and whatnot over the years.)

42 Comments

  1. Crimsoneer says:

    Holy shit Archimedean Dynasty. That brings back some serious memories of school. That felt like the most immersive game ever. Up there with Starlancer and Tie Fighter on “list of games that made me feel like a damn awesome hero dude”.

    Is Aquanox as good/better/worth playing? I didn’t get around to it.

    • Crazy Hippo says:

      I didnt find Aquanox anywhere near as good as AD. I loved AD, was a random game i picked up based soley on the name and I never regretted it.

  2. aleander says:

    Anyone have fond memories of Albion?

    Yes. Looking back, it was a bit odd and clunky in places, but in others it was fun. And it had lovely clutter everywhere.

    • melnificent says:

      Similar thoughts here.

      Definitely clunky but it had such a satisfying story… which I never finished. The 2 different game styles 2d over world 3d dungeons made it distinct. Glad it’s on GOG. As it means I don’t have to dig out an optical drive to play my original copy.

      • jalf says:

        Yeah, I never finished it, but I really liked the setting and the story..

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      Godwhacker says:

      It was fab- James Cameron also lifted much of the story for Avatar, although he left out most of the interesting bits. It’s not the deepest RPG out there and the randomness of the battle system means you’ll want to save often, but it holds up amazingly well.

      Also: at some point you’ll leave the first island. I strongly suggest a bit of grinding to boost your levels before you do.

      • Baines says:

        I’ve never played Albion, so I’ve no idea how similar it is to Avatar. But to be fair to Cameron, he felt he had to cut a lot from Project 880 in order to get Avatar made. Hollywood wouldn’t have backed such a big, long, complex, and expensive film as it would have been. So entire sections were cut from the scriptment, various things were simplified, and the main character was turned into more of a “what these people need is a white man” super special hero.

        You can look up Project 880 for details, as Cameron’s scriptment was posted online years ago and dissected by a few sites as well, and see how it squares against Albion as well if you wish.

  3. Trenchdog says:

    YES! Archimedean Dynasty, I completed that game a few times when I was a teenager some 17 years ago. I remember it as a nice RPG-story, interesting combat due to the currents etc. I owned the full game (legally even). I can still remember the nature of the voice of the character you played. Well, that is one game I am going to buy again for old time’s sake :)

  4. Xerophyte says:

    I have fond memories of Albion. I also have memories of Albion nearly making me vomit up my lunch because ye gods that field of view in the 3D sections, but still.

    Still, it had pretty good writing, an excellent setting and an interesting cast of characters. It’s a nice German faux-Star Trek RPG for people who like that sort of thing. Fondness is a sane response.

    • Xerophyte says:

      Also, he says selfishly replying to himself, Albion had an awesome box. Neat art! Multiple levels! Depth! You just don’t get that sort of box anymore, mainly since you don’t get a box at all.

  5. c-Row says:

    I never knew they translated the original title “Schleichfahrt” (Silent Running) into “Archimedean Dynasty”. You learn something new every day.

    • Replikant says:

      Thanks, I had forgotten the original name. “Schleichfahrt”, yes, loved it. Not so much when I spent ages trying to download a 20MB patch on a 56k modem IIRC, though. But the fun I had with the original was enough to carry me through the series of increasingly meh successors.

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      gritz says:

      *snickers*

  6. Doubler says:

    While I loved 1602 at the time I can’t really see any reason why you’d play it over any of the later installments to be honest. The others I played (1503, 1404 and 2070) each have various quirks that set them apart from each other in my mind, but I’d be hard pressed to name something for 1602 other than nostalgia.

  7. crowleyhammer says:

    I played the Anno 1602 demo shit loads back in the day and loved it, never have played a full game though!

    • omicron1 says:

      *ahem*
      Your people desire the full version!”
      *cough*

      Yeah… Really enjoyed this back in the day. It was the first game I got mail ordered, when I was eight or nine. Being that age, I loved the little videos and the credits sequence, but I suppose I’d not enjoy it nearly as much with nostalgia goggles off… Maybe Ill try it again, who knows.

  8. Ulukai says:

    I remember playing 1602 back in the day, they haven’t changed a huge amount in my opinion, it was addictive and good fun but hard I thought, every time I got so far (usually not long after I started making tools) my economy would just collapse and I’d go into debt, probably wasn’t playing it right., no issues like this in 1404.

    • Doubler says:

      Iirc the maintenance costs of the tool production line dwarfed anything that came before it, but it did free you from the need to buy tools, and allowed you to make a lot of money selling them to the AI if you got in early. Definitely a turning point in the game.

      • lagiacrux says:

        yes i couldnt agree more … i had serveral games where the hurdle was to build a stable tool production without ruining your economy. having to turn the whole production chain on/off whenever i needed was kinda tedious.

      • Alevice says:

        I usually just kept shutdown tool production until my stock was ready, and turn it on when i really needed the tools.

        Personally 1602 remains my fav of the bunch in the Anno series, probably because of the announcer vo

  9. Cryptoshrimp says:

    Oh man, I have loads of great memories of Albion. I could barely speak or read English when I played it, so it was confusing and interesting. It has strange cat creatures who grew carnivorous houses and it had an interesting rest system, and you could hunt animals for their meat and it was just fantastically weird.

    I mean, it’s probably a shit game if I play it now, but the art was fantastic and it clearly had inspired direction.

    • Great Cthulhu says:

      Totally agree! This game was amazing back in the day, even though I got horribly stuck and never finished it. (I seem to recall running out of food/healing while having to pass a foe that was way too tough for me.) Huge kudos to Blue Byte for daring to go off the beating path in terms of setting!

      Very tempted to buy it, even though realistically I’ll never find the time to actually play it again…

  10. Incanus says:

    I re-played Albion (for the third time i think) not so long ago. It’s a really GREAT game, one of my favourites. Exploration, writing, combat are excellent, and the setting is pure genius.

    You will not find easily another sci-fi rpg with such originality. Just grab it!

  11. Jekhar says:

    Don’t tarnish these games by mentioning Ubisoft. Albion and Schleichfahrt are simply damn fine Blue Byte games, from before the unfortunate company merger.

    • Matt_Ceb says:

      Came in here to say exactly this: Ubisoft had nothing to do with any of this. Those are Blue Byte games, which were swallowed up later, by the big U.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      Ah, sorry – I forget not everyone knows the many acquisitions of Ubisoft. I’ve added a note.

    • Saarlaender39 says:

      Yep – and for completeness sake: “Anno 1602” is from Max Design /Sunflowers.

    • Anthile says:

      That’s certainly true. Blue Byte are something like the German Westwood.

      • Jekhar says:

        Then Ubisoft get’s to be the european EA. All makes sense now!

  12. peterako1989 says:

    yup, Anno 1602 was a part of my childhood. I had no idea how to play properly but I enjoyed it anyway. Too bad anno 2077 and the new one that was announced are trashed by Uplay, or else I would buy them.

  13. AlfieV says:

    Even though I still have my original boxed copy of Archimedean Dynasty sitting proudly up there on the shelf, this is really good news! Fantastic game, Blue Byte put so much detail put into building the whole game world (the manual includes several pages of history explaining exactly what happened to the planet to get to that stage), and the whole thing was just so atmospheric. Definitely a game wot made me.

    There was actually a decent shooter underneath it all as well, one of the best implementations of AI turrets on a vehicle I’ve seen, and some of the sections with sea currents were totally mind-blowing at the time.

    • AlfieV says:

      Re-bought. Re-installed. Re-playing. But I just had to come back and say:

      Oh my god. I’d forgotten about the techno. The glorious 90s euro techno soundtrack.

  14. ansionnach says:

    Only played Albion for a few hours but it seemed like an interesting enough game. Can’t remember why I put it down; might have overlooked something and spent ages wandering around not knowing what to do next.

    Some former Thalion folk were involved in making Albion and it is viewed as a sort of spiritual follow-up to the never-completed Amber trilogy. Amberstar was released on the three amigos (Amiga, ST, DOS), while Ambermoon was only released on the Amiga (German-only). Its English version was never released but a beta surfaced and made its way online later, through the Thalion webshrine (which hosts free downloads of the Thalion games and seems to have the support of former Thalion developers). The company went bust and nobody seems to own the rights. There’s quite a lot of fondness for Thalion, especially in the Amiga community. Haven’t more than dabbled with any of them, but their noteworthy games seem to be Dragonflight, Amberstar, Ambermoon and Lionheart. Not sure if this would be too niche for crowd funding, but it’d certainly be cool to see that last Amber game made, particularly if it’s released on the Amiga as well.

  15. Spacewalk says:

    Well, fuck, there goes another weekend.

  16. Kurokawa says:

    Oooh, I still remember how I bought Schleichfahrt / Archimedean Dynasty after school only to find the DOS mouse drivers I had didn’t work with it and you couldn’t use a joystick to control the menus either.
    So I ran though a dark and rainy afternoon to a small local computer shop (one of those joints where the owner sits between brown cardboard boxes all day and you never see another customer) and bought their cheapest mouse, just to get my fingers on the driver diskette.
    The driver was a bit strange in that it threw a full screen of text at you when you loaded it up, but it did indeed work and the game turned out to be great and very atmospheric.
    Still have the box (badly damaged, because it’s made of stupidly thin cardboard) sitting on my shelf.

    Albion I played only the demo of, but I recall it was strangely appealing to me at a time when my opinion of RPG’s consisted of “No, thanks” and its ruder variations.
    Might have to try it again now…

    And Anno 1602 I played so much that I managed to damage one of my eyes in an overly long “just let me build one more production chain” session. To this day it’s noticably weaker than my other one.
    How’s that for a “game wot made me”? ;D

  17. eldoran89 says:

    I loved Albion back that days and it was one of my first roleplay experience and a cornerstone for my sifi love. never finished it don’t know exactly why but because i was a child many games had some sort of difficulty i wasn’t able to beat until i reached adolescenz or adulthood ;)…nevertheless it was one of my favorite games of that time together with der clou and oldtimer (thats what they were known in germany don’t know what their international name would be)

  18. RuySan says:

    Albion is beautiful, and really unique. It’s colour pallette of oranges, greens and turquoise blue’s still looks great today, and gives it’s setting a very alien feel.

    I do remember getting stuck in some puzzles back in the day, and asking my cousin, which was the only one i knew with internet, to send some e-mails to blue byte. They answered every question, even the one where i asked if there was going to be a sequel. Which they answered “no” :(

  19. Jekhar says:

    I hope that means Extreme Assault isn’t too far away on GOGs release schedule.

  20. Sunjammer says:

    Archimedean Dynasty is one of my all time favorite games. These are GREAT news. None of its sequels came close.

  21. vorador says:

    Albion is pretty unique, an sci-fi RPG that threw you into a tribal society in an alien world, with a lot of thought put into the world and lore. And walls of text. I remember liking it quite a bit, but i never got past a dungeon.

  22. Saii says:

    Archimedian Dynasty was absolutely superb, I’ve honestly been surprised that it didn’t get caught up in the flurry of remasterings from the last few years.

  23. bill says:

    I only played Albion a little bit about 2 years ago, but it seemed pretty good.
    I was interested in it because of the similarities to Avatar.

    I mean, I didn’t investigate the system for long enough to know if there is something totally broken in there or anything, but it seemed to have a reasonably unusual setting for an RPG, plus the art style seems to have aged pretty well and it has an interesting mix of 2d and first person graphics.

    I think it got good but not great reviews back in the day, but I don’t know why.

    I’ve been thinking that it’d be worth trying on dosbox on a tablet.