The beginnings of Nodes of Yesod are very literary in nature. The whole game actually begins with a poem that someone reads to Astro Charlie, the protagonist, through his intercom. They instruct him to go find a monolith on the surface of a strange planet. And, well, off Astro Charlie goes.
Throughout most of Nodes of Yesod, the astronaut you command is skipping across the moon and descending into areas to retrieve items. Then out he goes, by jumping on platforms and avoiding obstacles, to move on to the next objective. The most unfortunate thing about Nodes of Yesod is the lack of any indicator as to where the astronaut must go. This is a major impediment to enjoying the game, especially if you’re backtracking, hopping down three or four screens only to find out that you covered everything there, so you must jump back up platform by platform.
The entire game is takes place on one very strange moon. Sometimes it is in space. Sometimes, you’re in some subterranean jungle, with vegetation (I’m assuming that’s what the green is meant to stand for) and sometimes it takes place in icy caverns (again, assuming blue means ice). There are 256 caverns on this moon according to the playing guide. You’ll need to visit most of them, as the Alchiems you collect need to be the right ones and you only stumble upon the right ones by stumbling on one you can’t collect. This means go back and collect the one you can’t collect as this is a hologram of the true Alchiem. Yes, this could mean backtracking galore.
Some of the more humorous things in Nodes of Yesod include a visiting cosmonaut. He’s in red (of course) and will attempt to steal Alchiems you’re carrying at the time. You also have a mole sidekick. It’ll help you get past seemingly impassable walls and some angry aliens too.
The fact that one of the antagonists in the game is a cosmonaut (read: Soviet communist) will probably reveal the age of the game itself. Recall that Battlezone is a vehicular tank game in space with the primary opponent being the Soviet Union. Nodes of Yesod is a reconstituted classic from Uztek Games. It’s unfortunate there aren’t any improvements made for it. The graphics are unique but constant staring at them will lead you to question why you’re running such grainy (but colorful) graphics on your latest handheld or smartphone.
Uztek clearly understands games though. They have put in landscape as well as portrait modes. There is a useful save game feature that doesn’t require any fancy key collecting, although it is only one slot. The controls are responsive so Astro Charlie doesn’t suffer from any accidental slips or falls on screen.
There are few audio effects to keep Astro Charlie company throughout his sojourn, keeping with the authenticity of the game. The person behind Uztek Games is a veteran of Westwood and later, its merger into Electronic Arts. So while we should easily expect great things from the company, the Nodes of Yesod, a Spectrum conversion by itself, may not be the best one to stun Pocket PC gamers. However, its solid fundamentals, and cheap introductory price ($2.95) should keep gamers peeled for more.