There have been some rather weird signals emitting from the moon lately so you, Charlemagne 'Charlie' Fotheringham-Grunes, have the task to pop up there and see just what is going on...
The game begins with you trudging about the surface of the moon, complete with spinning Earth low on the horizon, mountains, rocks and craters.
Don't fall into a crater as soon as you start, you have to find a friendly mole who will help you on your quest. A mole on the moon, you cry. Well, yes (it must be all the cheese) and you have to capture the little devil as he pops up from behind a rock. Capturing him (he must be a him 'cos he's got braces) isn't too hard, just jump over him and he's all yours. These moles are good little creatures and can help you in the game by burrowing through certain walls to allow access to other caverns.
When you have your mole, you and he can leap into a crater and fall into the cavern below, which has ledges, monsters and (sometimes) floors. Most of the monsters are a right pain and continually try to crash into you. When they do they'll sap some of your life energy; if it diminishes to a certain point our hero has to sit down to recuperate. If it gets to a critical point then he'll lose one of his three lives (although there are extra ones which you can pick up).
You can use ol' moley-babes to help you out in these situations; pressing up on the joystick will bring him into action. Charlie will stick where he is and you'll be able to move the mole about the screen. By simply crashing him into most monsters you will find that they'll explode, although some of the animals are immune to moley's death grip.
These monsters will pester you the whole time you're on your quest to find the Monolith, the objective of the game. To get it you have to collect the eight keys, or alchiems as they're known. These are littered around the 256 screens, so quite a bit of exploration is necessary. The alchiems are made of crystal and have to be picked up by walking over them; once picked up they're yours, well, until you meet the red spaceman ghost. This unsavoury character who pops up from time to time will swipe one of your alchiems if he touches you, so you'll have to avoid him at all costs.
The task of exploring the whole system is not a simple one, and a little cartography would not go amiss. The whole underground network comprises of many separate caverns. Access to most is only possible if you use your borrowing chum; just get him out of your pocket and put him against a wall. If the wall is diggable then he'll burrow his way through in next to no time, digging a big enough space to allow you to squeeze through to the next screen.
Throughout the caverns there are many weird things which either help you or help ruin your game. Whirlwinds for instance, if touched, transport you to another cavern in a different part of the game. There are also the added hazards of huge, deep shafts, down which you can plummet and lose a life ... mind you, there is one massive shaft you may tumble down, arms flailing, that has a powerful updraught allowing you to land softly.
There are things called gravity sticks which you can use to help you along. These, when planted in the ground, cause a gravity field to be transmitted, which results in the destruction of all monsters in the immediate vicinity - handy, especially when your life energy is at its lowest ebb.
There's also a novel aspect to Nodes. As with the current vogue for music specialist remixes, Odin have done a 'disco' remix of this game, so on the other side of the tape, should you be bored with sedate moon gravity, you can play the super fast 'bop' version - it's quite different in 'feel'.
This is definitely one of the best aardvarks I've seen on the Commodore. The graphics are superlative with fantastically coloured rocks, crystals and boulders, and brilliantly defined and animated aliens. Exploring and mapping the game will take quite a while, solving it will take even longer. There's plenty to do and discover, and whilst you're doing so a great atmospheric tune burbles away. Other bits of music are excellent too, especially on the title screen. The instruction booklet that comes with the game is a model example, complete with a piece about Charlie himself that is cleverly amusing. One look at Nodes of Yesod will get you hooked - just try it.
There is still a distinct lack of arcade adventurers on the C64, so it's always a pleasure to see somebody releasing one - especially when it's as good as this!
The graphics are first class, with some excellent, atmospheric backdrops complemented by an equally atmospheric and soothing piece of music (along with the great tune on the title screen and the game-over music). The characters are eloquently defined and brilliantly animated with fantastic cartoon-like qualities - Odin's attention to detail is certainly commendable.
There's plenty to explore and most importantly, map, meaning that collecting the eight alchiems to unlock the cavern containing the monolith is by no means easy, but it is very absorbing and enjoyable. Nodes Of Yesod is Odin's first release for the C64 and hopefully it won't be their last. In fact it won't be, or rather it isn't, since they're releasing another promising game of the same genre in the very near future - Robin o' the Wood.
Well packaged and documented with good options.
Superbly defined and coloured backdrops, brilliantly animated sprites.
Excellent tunes complementing the game perfectly.
Overwhelming urge to explore the depths.
It'll take a long time to recover the Monolith.
Value For Money 93%
Such a mega game for a measly price.
Simply the best aardvark to date.