Prospector in the Mazes of Xor


Title           Prospector in the Mazes of Xor
Game Type       Puzzle
Company         Astral Software/Logotron
Players         1
Compatibility   All (some sound issues with 020+)
Submission      REARLE@twmi.rr.com

Review
"Prospector in the Mazes of Xor" was created by Astral Software and
distributed by Logotron in 1989. The Amiga version of the game was adapted
from an improved version of "Xor" on the C-64, Spectrum, and Atari ST
platforms. It is run from the workbench and permits multi-tasking!

It's "Play" but not "Write" copy protected. I found having to find a word
on a line on a manual page and then type it in correctly every time the
game is loaded to be odious and used "RawCopy" to deprotect it, which is
perfectly legal to do if one owns both software products. It still
displays the copy protection "enter the word" screen after deprotection,
but clicking in the word entry line and pressing 'Enter' is now all that's
required.

Your task is to move the two prospectors Herb and Pip through the fifteen
mazes of Xor and the fifteen bonus mazes of Procyon, which start off
relatively easy and progress to impossibly difficult, and collect the
variable number of blue balloons scattered about in 2,000 moves or less
per maze. I still have not completed all of the mazes twelve years
later. The game, viewed from a side-on perspective, scrolls both
vertically and horizontally to the limits of the grid (i.e. maze) as
either of the characters is moved about so as to keep him centered in the
window. This effect is actually very pleasant. The sound consists of only
one song, that get's pretty old after you've heard it a thousand times,
and a few miscellaneous sound effects for the various item events (e.g.
rock falls and hits the ground).  The good news is the music can be turned
off.

There's also a construction set function, that allows you to create
up to fifteen additional mazes. I have made ten of my own, which I still
sometimes play. A playback function is also included, which can be invoked
after a particular session has been finished. Unfortunately it can not be
saved, which would have enabled the sharing of solutions. Each playback is
overwritten as soon as another attempt on a maze is initiated.

Collecting all of the blue balloons is not easy but is required to
successfully complete a maze. You'll have to switch back and forth between
Herb and Pip to solve the mazes. During their exploration, they'll
encounter zeppelins that can be released, rocks that can be moved and
dropped, dynamite and bombs that can be exploded with a dropped rock or a
released zeppelin, spheres that can be moved, one or more pairs of
teleporters, and map quarter sections. One more obstacle that must be
mentioned are the blue decoy balloons, which resemble the balloons you're
after. Destroy one of these and the lights go out! Only the aforementioned
items remain visible. Herb and Pip can still be moved about after this but
you have to do so in the dark, which makes it more difficult. Find and
destroy another decoy balloon to turn the lights back on. Sometimes the
successful soluton to a maze involves their deliberate destruction.

You'll restart each maze many times before finally figuring out a solution
(the mazes can be solved in many different ways). I tried to find a
solution that resulted in the fewest moves (the count of which is saved).
This game is purely a logic puzzle solution. If you like this kind of game
you'll love "Prospector in the Mazes of Xor"!

It's a credit to the Astral Software folks, that this game still runs in
2001 under Amiga OS 3.9 on a 68060 CPU, with only the explosion sound
effect a bit messed up.



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