The build-up to the release of colourful platformer Nobby The Aardvark was huge: full page adverts across the C64 press promised an amazing looking cartoon adventure. Nobby was shown in a coal mine cart, complete with tin hat. Another screenshot showed him navigating the desert in a hot air balloon. Yet another was of the main sprite hoovering up lunch from an ant hill. This was the age of the Super Nintendo: stylish platformers were very much in vogue. It looked as if Thalamus was about to serve up a truly modern game on our favourite old computer.

A demo appeared on CF23‘s Power Pack tape, and a drooling review the following month was enough to tip most C64 owners over the edge of excitement.

And then, cruelly, there was nothing.

Publishers Thalamus – they of the hits Creatures and Summer Camp – were in serious financial trouble. The business was put on hold, and the game would not appear for another eight months.

But it was totally worth it.

Your task is to help Nobby reach Antopia, a paradise world of ants that he can eat all day. To reach the planet, he must build a “matter transporter”. You collect the parts for the machine across seven beautiful looking levels – you start in 1950s America, where you get to ride a huge balloon. Later, Nobby can swim. Then, he’s in a submarine and at a space station and in an old mine. He continuously rolls forward in that level on rails with a little flashlight on his head. It’s like nothing else in the game and the same can be said of every other stage. There are new graphics, sounds and neat things to try out at every corner. Unlike other platformers it doesn’t ever feel like you’re going through the motions or treading old ground. Frankly – it widdles over stuff you used to see on the NES and Master System.

Every level is almost a game in itself. The map is huge, the graphics drawn with care and the animation is to die for.

Original reviewer James Leach was astounded with the game’s size, and asked why more games weren’t like it. On its eventual release, Clur reviewed it again and told programmers to stop whingeing about the limitations of the 8-bits and look at Nobby. “It’s fab!”, she exclaimed – nudging James’ original score up to 96%. On that basis, it gets a deserved place in CF‘s top rated games.

Everybody seems to know about Creatures but Nobby always gets forgotten, perhaps because when it eventually came out so many C64 owners had been given new consoles for Christmas ’92. It’s a shame, because it’s amazing. If that was you, go and put things right immediately! CF


CF SAID: “The sort of game C64 owners deserve”.

WE SAY: One of those games that people who moved on from the C64 when the Amiga came out would be astounded to see. Nobby was made with care. A joy. Terrible grammar on the intro screens, mind…