One may wonder how someone who has released so few games could be regarded as one of the best programmers of all time. Quite simply the games he was responsible for are classics through and through.
Simplistic to the last, Archer was a big fan of arcade games in the early 80s. Especially Williams games it would seem, for he programmed perfect versions of Joust and Robotron for the old Atari 800. Due to obvious legal reasons, these were never released. He also had a very large respect for Defender, which is definately one the greatest games to be released. Setting himself the target of writting a version better than the original was no mean feat, but achieve it he did with the game known as Dropzone.
Written for the Atari 800 (and later converted superbly to the C64 much to the surprise of people) this was arcade action at it's purest. In many ways identical to Defender, it took the theme further by introducing a new concept in human abduction, plus the added task of having to ferry the humans back to base and not just protect them. Having played it for many years, I am still not tired of it. I might be crazy in suggesting this is one of the greatest games ever too. It is my greatest ever game on the C64, because it kept me going for so many months.
How could Archer follow that? An up and coming software house called System 3 were in the middle of putting together their own karate game following the success of Exploding Fist. However half way through the programmer departed leaving the softies rather stuck. Enter Archer. How much of the game he actually was responsible for is unknown, certainly most of the graphics were his doing. And with the legendary Rob Hubbard on music duty, how could it fail? The final result was International Karate which was praised by one mag as 'pissing all over Fist'!
However Archer himself was a little disappointed with the final outcome, as he felt more could have been done with the game if he had had the time. Deadlines from System 3 had meant the game in some ways had been rushed. Things came full circle 18 months later. Without any hype or advertising, IK+ was launched onto the unsuspecting world. The most immediate feature was the addtion of a third fighter; Archer said if time had allowed he would have made it part of the original. Nevertheless, the sequel was worth the wait. With a superb backdrop, new music, intermission and new moves (including a really nice headbutt!) it was one game my brother and I went back to time and again for a thrash at the computer and each other!
From there, the scene went quiet once more. Until Archer popped up with a licensed game for Virgin. This was some special licensed game, though the game would have been a hit without the name tagged on. However Jimmy White did help sales along with a new version of snooker on the Amiga. Using clever 3D routines and algorithms, conventional snooker was taken to a new level, now emulated by such games as Virtual Pool. It took time to get used to that's for sure, but once you got the feel for the game, it all fell into place. Another triumph....
After that, who knows what Archer is up to. If anyone does know what he got up to after releasing a modified version of Pool then I would like to find out. He is involved with some software houses in software devlopment, but will he ever write another game? Only time will tell...