In conjuction with his latest novel, acclaimed author, Ernest Cline, has helped create a new video game app, Phaëton. Phaëton is a true testament to the legendary Atari 2600 games of the 1980s. Cline and a few of his other geeky game-designing friends, have collaborated to bring fans a truly timeless game based on the fictional game, Phaeton, that is routinely cited in the novel Armada.
In the book Phaëton is a mythical game that was only seen in a local Beavertown arcade for one day and one day only. Ironically, it happens to get noticed by Xavier Lightman, the main antagonist’s (Zach Lightman) father. The game is supposedly part of a giant government conspiracy where the U.S. military is using video games to train civilians for real combat; a conspiracy Zach’s father was trying to uncover.
Uniquely, the Phaëton app combines both a wonderful salute to the now ancient Atari-styled video games along with the many Easter eggs in Cline’s novel. Phaëton holds true to the combat simulator part, modeling it after one of Atari’s most infamous games, Battlezone. Battlezone (1980) was originally designed as a combat simulator for tanks. However, with its clunky 8-bit graphics one can understand why Battlezone became more of a household activity than a serious military training system.
Both the idea to make a Phaëton game and model it after a 8-bit combat simulator (a reoccurring theme in Armada’s plot) are both ingenious and superbly nerdy on Cline’s part. With a global top-ten high score board Cline combines both the flair of retro-gaming along with the nerd-centric qualities of his novel. The best part of this game is the fact you can enjoy it without reading the book. However, to fully apperciate the humour in destroying Sobrukai Glaive Fighters it would be in one’s best interest to pick up Armada at your local bookstore or Barnes & Nobles.
Phaëton is a free-to-play game available for download on any of your mobile devices via the Google Play store or the iTunes store. Fans can also check out the game through the Earth Defense Alliance website. A fictional website about the military organization in Armada that helps defend Earth from an alien invasion. Ernest Cline is also the author the best-selling, Ready Player One.