Old school remains the best school in the works of Ernest Cline. In his latest novel, Armada, the author describes an arcade cabinet that mysteriously appeared and then vanished into urban legend swiftly thereafter. The name of the game is Phaëton and it shares equal debt to the Polybius conspiracy theory, The Last Starfighter, and the old Star Wars arcade game. To celebrate the launch of the new book, a website has been launched that touts the rediscovery of the old game and also includes a ROM for people to play it (along with downloadable app versions for Android and iOS phones).
By going to Phaëton Was Real, those interested can pilot a starship for the Earth Defense Alliance against the evil Sobrukai. It’s a simple game with an easy mechanic, but it’s a fun, immersive way to incorporate subject matter from the book. In fact, it seems like the creators of the game have combined the old school mechanics of the mysterious Phaëton game with the starcraft and characters of the titular Armada game that the protagonist plays (not to mention the occasional reference to a certain video game meme). There’s a video of gameplay for those interested in seeing how it works on the phone, or else it can just be played in a browser.