1985
Arcade: Adventure
£8.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
None

129,130
Chris Bourne

After the runaway success of Nodes of Yesod a sequel has finally arrived from the Liverpudlian demigods (Thor/Odin) in the from of Arc of Yesod. Once more the star of the show is the Rt Hon Charlemagne 'Charlie' Fortheringham -Grunes, the man who battled bravely against the black slab Monolith in Nodes. Though he battled bravely Charlie lost the contest, and the Monolith teleported offworld to escape destruction. Luckily the ionic destruction caused by the Monolith's hasty departure allowed it to be traced to its place of origin: Ariat, a strange alien planet.

Earth is still in danger if the people of Ariat manage to download the information gathered by the Monolith, they will no doubt take advantage of the detailed knowledge it contains and attack Earth itself. They are believed to have constructed a massive battle cruiser capable of taking out most of the Galaxy. A shuttle, hurriedly prepared, transports Charlie to Ariat. Once again Charlie has been charged with saving life as we know it his job is disarm and destroy the Monolith before the Ariatans can retrieve the information it contains.

Paradropping onto Ariatan soil, Charlie finds himself skulking on the outskirts of the city where the Monlith is held. He needs to find some way of reaching the device.... the game begins.

Charlie's best line of attack is to get underground and travel to the Security Centre via the large network of caverns and caves that nestle below the city. The surface view of Ariat shows the city in the background set against the night sky. As Charlie moves off the left or right of a screen, a new screen flicks into view. Small manholes are dotted around the city, and Charlie must use them to gain access to the subterranean world in which most of the action takes place.

Charlie is an agile fellow, who can leap and bound quite deftly in the low gravity environment of Ariat. 'Jump ' sends our hero skyward into a forward somersault spin, to land firmly on his feet. In conjunction with the left and right keys, this is Charlie's main method of transport useful when moving around the ledge filled caverns of Ariat. With a few well-timed sproings and cavorts it's possible to negotiate most of the constructions and obstructions found underground. A teleporter system exists within the labyrinth, and Charlie can zoom between locations by stepping into one of the strategically placed teleport units.

Apart from static obstacles, there are mobile nasties that take some dodging. A whole range of strange and weird beasties can be found in the caves, and some nasties float in the atmosphere, while others trog about on the floor. The floor-trogging species of baddie tends to be pretty indestructible. If Charlie walks into one of them he's bounced all over the cave interior. Airfloaters disintegrate when touched but, like the ground animals, contact with one costs Charlie some of his essential life energy. He's got four lives, each if which is lost after too much energy has been sapped encounters with aliens. A little sine wave pulsing up and down next to the life counter shows how much of the current life's energy remains, and the readout becomes smaller with each clash with the flora and fauna.

A Sphere, or Electronic Mole, fights on Charlie's side. The Sphere is released from Charlie's backpack and can be controlled left, right, up and down. While the Sphere is under your control, Charlie remains immobile. This gadget is a worthy ally, capable of despatching the nasties by bashing into them. It can also open the secret passages that lie behind some walls by bumping into the masonry which conceals them. Charlie's armoury contains Smart Bombs that wipe out most of the baddies in the current cave on detonation.

Charlie needs to gather up eight crystals before he can have a go at dealing with the Monolith the poor chap's certainly got his work cut out...

CRITICISM

'There really isn't a lot of difference between Nodes and Arc. The changes are few and far between - most notable is the enhancement on the graphics: the animated figures are larger and more detailed and the quality of the actual animation is a great deal better than in Nodes. Arc is quite a jolly game, nevertheless, interesting to play and enjoyable to map. Most arcade adventurers will surely enjoy this challenge. Even so, owners of Nodes might well feel a little cheated if they shell out ten quid for a game that, in effect, they already own.'

'Brilliant' sums up my opinion of Arc of Yesod. The graphics, as in Nodes, are great with loads of detail and no spared colour. Sound is a little on the meagre side, maybe, but the intro music is a real ear-opener, especially when amplified. In looks it's very similar to its predecessor - Charlie hasn't aged a bit - and the game is both playable and addictive. I missed Brookside to play it, a real sacrifice! The packaging is very good and the blurb summarises Charlie's experiences in Nodes rather well. It just goes to prove that follow-ups aren't always worse than the originals, as has happened in some cases recently.'

'I think I must have overplayed Nodes of Yesod because I'm not very impressed with this one. Graphically, this game has the same sort of backgrounds and characters as Nodes. Your man is the same fellow as in Nodes, although his little companion has changed. All the graphics are large, well drawn and well animated and there is very little colour clash. The sound is a pleasure - a lovely three channel simulation in the tune with the title screen and a few burps and beeps during the game itself. Gameplay is exactly the same as in Nodes, so it can't be called original. If, like me, you've got Nodes and have become bored to death with it, I wouldn't bother with this one. If, on the other hand, you are Nodeless I strongly recommend Arc as you'd find it very playable and addictive.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: 1-0 to change control between the Sphere and Charlie, alternate keys on bottom row for left/right, Q-P
Sphere up or Jump for Charlie, A-L Sphere down or drop Smart Bomb, ENTER to pause game
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor and Interface II
Keyboard play: fast, responsive and accurate
Use of colour: cleverly conceived colour scheme avoids colour clash
Graphics: pretty backdrops coupled with excellent animation creates a pleasing effect
Sound: great, but muted - title tune, but not many game effects
Skill levels: 1
Screens:
General Rating: A great little game, very much the follow on to Nodes of Yesod - maybe too similar.

91%
93%
92%
91%
84%
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89%

Screenshot Text

The adventure begins: Charlie stumps around in front of the alien cityscape. It's no use procrastinating (LMLWD) Charlie, get down there...

Inside a cave full of animated nasties. Watch out, Charlie, time's draggin on and there are crystals to collect.