Xor (Logotron) Review | Acorn User - Everygamegoing

Acorn User

By Logotron
Acorn Electron

Published in Acorn User #062


Despite being crushed by chickens and flattened by fish, Robert Miller is still impressed by Logotron's Xor


Many months ago, a strangely named maze game appeared on a free trial disc on the front cover of another computing magazine. The game was Xor, and it was billed as the game of logic. Now, six months later, there are three incarnations; the original Xor, Xor Designer and the latest version, Xor For Schools.

For those of you who have not yet travelled through the super-logical domain, let me explain. You (depicted as two shields) must explore a number of mazes, collecting masks on the way. Simple I hear you cry! But with bombs that blow up in your face, fish that squash you flat and chickens that crush you against walls, life is not easy. As if that wasn't enough, there are force fields that allow you to travel either up and down or horizontally.

Collecting individual masks can be quite easy, but when a mask is buried under a pile of fish, chickens and explosives, things get tricky. By carefully moving your shield around the maze, objects can be pushed around, but don't forget about gravity!


In some extreme cases, say from level one onwards, your shield may get trapped, which is the cue for shield number two to come into action. By alternating between the two, even the most deeply buried masks can eventually be uncovered.

Two special characters included in the original Xor are the transporters, called BMUS - or Beam Me Up Scottys. These allow you to jump between areas in the maze that are otherwise entirely blocked off from each other.

Not wanting to appear completely uncaring, Logotron has included a facility by which small sections of map can be collected to form a complete plan of the current level. These show the walls plus any remaining masks, although one feature missing is a 'you are here' arrow!


On completion of each level, a special letter is displayed on the screen. If you manage to complete all fifteen levels, the letters can be rearranged to form a password that qualifies you for the Order of Xor.

As a game I found Xor totally intriguing, but if you are only into mass carnage, this one is not for you. For those who prefer to take their time (there are absolutely no time limits whatsoever), this could be the game. The best way to describe it is as "a thinking person's Repton".

Once the levels have been mastered there is no challenge and therefore no enjoyment. So it's a wise move to have a way for the player to manufacture his or her own game. For an extra £14.95 (disc), Logotron offer the Xor Designer to complement the original game. The Xor Designer can be played as a game, although only a small selection of levels are included with it.


The designer has three main sections: the Maze Designer allowing you to create new mazes from scratch or edit existing ones: the Icon Designer allows you to change appearance (but not the behaviour) of the Xor characters; and the Game Player allows you to play the game!

Mazes are designed on a 30x30 grid using any of the fifteen characters provided. I found it easiest to start by first building a wall 'skeleton' and then placing the masks, fish, explosives and so on. Two mazes from the original Xor are included on the disc to start you off.

While it is possible to change the appearance of a particular character, it is important to note that the behaviour (like the fact the fish drops) cannot be altered. This means that, even if the game looks entirely different, the tactics used to solve the puzzles will be the same.


It is a good idea therefore to redesign the characters according to their attributes. With this in mind, Logotron supplies an 'alternative' set of characters, all based on road symbols. Masks are represented as traffic cones, explosives as warning signs and map segments as tourist information signs (nice touch!). Like the mazes, new characters can be saved for later use.

Using the Game Player you can test out your new creations. Any maze can be used with any of the sets of characters, which are loaded in before each new game. Gameplay is identical to that of the original Xor. I'm glad to see the inclusion of features like 'piano' and 'forte' which allow you to decrease/increase the music volume, and the 'replay' option that enables you to review your previous turn - it can be amusing to see your errors speeded up.

A new facility is the option of a screen dump of any part of the current maze. This is useful if you are stuck on one particular section and want a rough copy that you can work on before committing yourself on-screen. If you successfully complete a maze, you are given the option of saving the game to disc. This effectively saves the solution of the maze.


If you have forked out the £10 for the original Xor, the additional cost of £15 for the designer might seem a bit steep. All you are really getting for your extra money is a facility to create new mazes, which you will probably end up playing! I think the price should be lower, say £9.95, with the original Xor game thrown in for free. If you are one of the people who prefer to think up alternative solutions for crosswords (don't laugh, they do exist!), this could be right up your street.

Xor For Schools is essentially the same as Xor Designer but with more examples of mazes and character definitions. There are also some teacher's notes including a brief synopsis of Xor and answering questions like 'how can Xor be useful to help practise thinking skills?'

The price of £26 seems a lot for something which in a simpler, though similar, form (Xor Designer), only costs £15.

Robert Miller


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