Xor (Logotron) Review | Amstrad Action - Everygamegoing

Amstrad Action

By Logotron
Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Action #26


Logotron are a new name to the Amstrad games scene, but they look set to ruffle some feathers with a game all about chickens, fish, bombs and dollys. Until now, they've been best known for the Pendown word processor, so this marks quite a departure for them and hopefully it will be a successful one.

Xor is an unusual maze type game in which you control two shields, Questor and Magus, in an attempt to reveal the identity of Xor. He is revealed when all of the fifteen levels of the game are completed. You get the idea of how fiendish the game's going to be from the level names: "Henry's Anguish", "Explosive Mixture", "Dolly's Revenge", "The Challenge" and "Razor's Edge" are just a few.

On loading, you are presented with a menu which allows access to the 15 levels of the game. The playing area is a four-way scrolling maze and, on each level, you have to collect all of the masks which are hidden in the maze. Your task is hampered by the many hazards and puzzles that have to be worked through.


The hazards are forcefields, chickens, fish, dolls, bombs, transporters and switches. They all have different movement logics and effects, which have been combined into wickedly complicated puzzles. These get tougher as you progress through the levels, until they reach quite extraordinary levels of interaction needing many hours of experimentation and thought to crack.

The forcefields are of two types, vertical and horizontal. The vertical are only removed by vertical movement and the horizontal by horizontal movement (logical isn't it?). This means problems have to be approached from the correct direction and, on the later levels, it's all too easy to get trapped on the wrong side of a forcefield.

Chickens appear on the second level and these move to the left whenever they can until they hit something. Fish also appear here and these fall straight down, where possible, until they bump into something. If a fish or chicken is released and hits one of the shields, then you'll lose the shield and have to start over. Dollys join in on level five and these move in the direction they're pushed, but fortunately they don't destroy the shields when they hit them.


The chickens, fish and dollys are the key to the whole game because they're what you need to use to complete tasks. One wrong move and you'll make the level impossible to complete, by blocking off either a mask or a corridor of the maze. From these simple elements are built extraordinarily devious puzzles.

Bombs first enter the game on level four and come in two types, V-bombs and H-bombs. V-bombs explode vertically and H-bombs explode horizontally destroying the two squares on either side. The bombs are needed on many levels to blast holes through walls, allowing access to other parts of the maze. The bombs are detonated by being hit by one of three things: fish, chickens or another bomb. They also obey a movement pattern, H-bombs behaving like fish and V-bombs like chickens.

Switches look similar to masks but have a sad face instead of a happy one - for good reason. They have the irritating effect of turning out the lights so that the walls of the maze are invisible. If you can find another sad mask you can toggle the lights back on again, but you may do untold damage to the puzzles by blundering around looking for one.

BMUSs (Beam Me Up Scottie) are transporters and these enter play at level ten. They simply allow you to teleport a shield between two points in the maze - makes a change from blowing holes to get around.

There are two more essential elements of the game - a map and a door. The map is picked up in four quarters and shows the location of the masks and position of the door. This is invaluable for determining where to blow a hole in a wall or where to push through something when you can't see it on the screen. The door is the exit to the maze and can only be used when all the masks have been collected.

As you attempt the harder levels, you'll find you have to bring the two shields together to work in tandem. You can also bring one shield to the rescue if the other one gets stuck. This adds still more to the puzzles and enjoyment. The levels have to be completed within 2,000 moves - which isn't always easy, but you can tackle them in any order, with the exception of the last few.

The graphics are simple but effective and there's no animation. The music which plays continuously is awful and there are no other effects in the game.

It's simple at first sight but the element of problem-solving will soon have you hooked. It's frustratingly difficult at times but it will appeal strongly to people who enjoy fiendish puzzles. You can sit and agonise over a puzzle for ages and suddenly the answer will come to you like a revelation - very rewarding. It will be a long time before this game is mastered.

Second Opinion

This really is incredibly addictive and superbly thought out. The authors haven't missed a single detail in any of the puzzles. At times you'll curse them for playing nasty tricks on you and then be delighted by solving something. I can only compare it to an adventure in the way you have to approach the problem solving, but obviously it requires a different sort of thought process in manipulating all the objects. This is bound to become a classic which will provide excellent entertainment.

First Day Target Score

Complete the first three levels.

Green Screen View

Masks and menu screen are dark blue on black and are difficult to see.


Graphics 60%
P. Large, clearly defined characters.
N. Not much variety in characters or scenery.

Sonics 37%
N. Terrible tune.
N. No spot effects.

Grab Factor 85%
P. Easy puzzles to start with.
N. But you may not appreciate its subtlety from these early screens.

Staying Power 94%
P. Fifteen progressively difficult levels.
P. Puzzles on some levels are incredibly devious.

Overall 91% It's like Boulderdash with less arcade action and much more interesting problems to solve.

Gary Barrett

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