Now it's time to lose your marbles

Logical logo

Publisher: Rainbow Arts Price: £19.99

The mere mention of a puzzle game usually has arcade freaks turning to the next page. If there are no aliens to blast or end-of-level guardians to wipe out and no death, and destruction to deliver, they just aren't interested.
All that could be about to change with the release of Logical from Rainbow Arts, the team who brought you Curse of Ra - remember?

This new game requires a combination of fast reactions and a little brain power and should appeal to just about everyone, even little Jonnhy next door who's obsessed with playing John Madden American Football on is Mega drive.

The basic concept, as with all the best puzzle games, its very simple and can be picked up in minutes. All you have to do is manoeuvre the marbles through the various receptacles until you have filled each one with four balls of the same colour.

Sounds simple so far doesn't it? Well there's a bit more to it than that. The receptacles are connected by channels all over the screen along which you can pass the marbles. Each one can be rotated through 90 degree angles so that marbles can be collected and despatched through the channels. And just to make things a little more difficult, it is timed.

Still sounds simple? Well that's all there is to the first few levels, but just when you're getting used to it and thinking you're really hot a few elements are thrown in to make you to stop in your tracks.

Little things like colour stoppers that will only allow marbles of a certain colour through and colour changers that will let any marble through but change its hue on the way.
And how about the traffic lights which mean that you have to fill the receptacles in a certain order before you can progress with the game?

If all that isn't enough there are also one-way channels and colour handicaps and forecasts to contend with, but if I told you about everything it wouldn't be any fun would it? There are 99 levels to play through and a password system has been included so that you can avoid all those easy levels you have done before. And believe me, when you get up to the higher levels you will need all of your time to concentrate on those tricky traps instead of messing about with the easy stuff.

When you have completed all 99 levels (some chance!) you receive a password that enables you to enter the level construction kit where you can devise your own devious levels. You can save your creations on disk to amaze and confuse your friends with later.

Logical may have you bashing your mouse in frustration but it will also have you coming back for more - a lot more!

Logical logo

RAINBOW ARTS * £19.99 Mouse

Logical is the kind of game you'd feel comfortable taking home to meet your Mum. It's elegant, while not exactly pretty, sophisticated enough to challenge and yet easy to get on with. There's no violence, no silly stories, just a politely riveting personality. Getting to know Logical well enough to invite it round for tea in the first place is the problem. You see, well, it's a puzzle game.

Wheel meet again
Logical may be the name, but the game only makes sense when you understand it. It essentially is a dexterity/management test that involves ushering different coloured balls around a circuit with the mouse. When four similar coloured balls are gathered together on one of the 'wheel' junctions in the circuit, they disappear. This clears them from play and renders the wheel inactive. When all the wheels on a screen have been deactivated the level is successfully completed.

Each level starts with a single ball entering the circuit and rolling until it falls into an empty slot in the edge of a wheel - containing four slots each. Because these wheels sit at junctions in the circuit, and can be rotated with a quick click on their centre, balls and slots can be rearranged to suit your game plan.

While clicking on any ball, that's sat in a slot which feeds into the circuit sends it rolling along to the next junction.

The random colour of each new ball, the time limit and twisted nature of the network provide the puzzle elements of Logical. Few of the circuits fully connect, so you have to push, pull and shove balls via X, Y and Z just to get from A to B. Joining the conspiracy on later levels are one-way routes, teleports, colour dedicated paths and countless other hazards. And while you concentrate on the bowels of the circuit, more balls are being added all of the time.

Colour-based puzzles need clear, simple lay outs and Logical commendably offers four graphic-sets to choose from. Effectively understated, they allow the puzzle to be deciphered at a glance but otherwise rarely register. Similarly, the precision of mouse response is soon taken as fact, while the sound effects and music fade under the glare of concentration.

Logical ties to confuse and confound, slowly upping the pressure as each round progresses. There are more balls, less time and more movement: solutions that appear obvious one moment are instantly forgotten as your attention is diverted by yet another gameplay twist.

Initially a quiet game, Logical steadily makes more demands of both time and effort. Its lack of 'obvious action' could well mean it gets overlooked, which would be a crime. The action's there, it just takes a little effort to recognise it.

1 - The blue ball rolls along the top tube until it finds an empty 'wheel' slot in which to sit. If there isn't a slot that's open the balls rolls from end-to-end until a space is made.
2 - There's no space for the green ball on the first wheel so it will roll along to the next. The aim is to fill each wheel with four similar balls.
3 - The first green ball finds a home in the second wheel. The next ball out, also a green, has no obvious slot so one must be made. Click the right mouse button on the second wheel to turn it 90 degrees clockwise, which opens a slot.
4 - The next ball is pink. It's best to dump it somewhere harmless and match it up later. Using the 'green' wheel is easiest, as being the furthest from the entrance it gives you more time.
5 - Another green has turned up before the pink was dealt with and dropped into the last spare slot. To make room for a final green drop the pink into a lower wheel. Rotate the wheel twice so the pink faces down. Then click the left mouse button while over the pink ball to send it down to the next wheel.
6 - More unwanted colours have turned up and been disposed of in the pink. When the green turns up spin the green wheel to present the final slot.
7 - When the fourth green ball slots in, all four explode and darken the wheel. That wheel is now complete. To finish the entire level every wheel must be 'exploded'.

Logical logo Amiga Joker Hit

Nomes est Omen - es darf wieder geknobelt werden. Zur Abwechslung geht es diesmal nicht um Steinchen, stattdessen gibt es hier Murmeln, Röhren, Scheiben und jede Menge Tüftelspaß...

Sinn und Zweck der Veranstaltung ist es, bunte Murmeln unter Zeitdruck schön ordentlich auf diverse Drehscheiben zu verteilen. Sobald eine Scheibe mit Murmelm gefüllt ist, explodiert sie, sind alle Scheibchen hochgegangen, ist der Level gelöst, und darf man mit den nächsten 98 weitermachen.

Nun lassen sich die Kuller aber nur transportieren, indem man sie durch Verbindungsrohre zwischen den drehbaren Sammeltellern hin- und herschleust. Da beginnt das Köpfchen oft ganz schön zu rauchen!

Weil es aber nicht nur rauchen, sondern richtig qualmen soll, haben die Programmierer noch massenhaft tückische Features eingebaut: Türen, die nur Kugeln einer bestimmten Farbe durchlassen, Einbahnstraßen, "Murmelfarbenänderungsanlagen", Teleporter - alles in allem genügend Gemeinheiten, um die Motivation in schwindelerregende Höhen zu treiben!

Die Grafik ist naturgemäß wenig abwechslungsreich, der Sound weiß da schon eher zu gefallen: Die Knobelei wird von schöner Musik und passenden FX begleitet. Die Handhabung ist sogar über jeden Zweifel erhaben, eine hervorragend gelöste Maussteuerung macht den Umgang mit den vertrackten Murmeln zum reinsten Vergnügen. Rechnet man jetzt noch den ausgeprägt hohen Suchtfaktor hinzu, kann es eigentlich nur ein Fazit geben: Logical ist eine der schönsten Tüfteleien seit langem - für Freunde des Genres ein absolutes Muß! (C. Borgmeier)

Logical logo

Ten things the world needs now: peace in the Gulf; flood relief in Bangladesh; sensible political co-operation in Northern Ireland; free strawberry milk shakes on the National Health; another abstract puzzle game on the Amiga; humanitarian aid for - hand on a minute, one of those doesn't sound quite right. Which could it be?

We've got Klax, we've got Tetris, we've got Gem'X, we've got Puzznic, we've got Plotting - is there simply room for one more abstract puzzle game? I guess that depends how good it is.

Most people would probably agree that the premier requirement for a good puzzle game is addictiveness. All the above games have it in buckets, but the bottom line is that it's missing from Logical and that's really the end of the story.

The game has a solid puzzle-game construction (the idea is to shunt little marbles around to fill up all the wheels you can see on the screen with marbles of the same colour), but Rainbow Arts say that they expect even an average player to get about 20 levels into it on their first go. With a level taking upwards of five minutes to play through on average (and five minutes of pretty slow and repetitive actions at that), we're not looking at a high frustration or compulsion level, with the result that you're likely to play it once, think 'Oh well, that's quite nice', and dump it at the back of your software shelf never to see the light of a day again.

It's a shame, because Logical is very attractively done and has loads of potential for mindbending, but even with level codes for easy access to the 'hard' levels, you're pretty unlikely to ever want to play it twice. (By the time you get to a challenging level, you'll have been playing for so long you'll be heartily slick of it all). Some pointless extra features (the ridiculous 'one-colour' levels in particular) don't help matters any, either.

Even at £5 below the norm, this is just too second-division to be worth considering.

Logical logo

Joining the ranks of Tetris, Puzznic, and Block Out, Logical is a puzzle game with balls literally.

The recent stream of puzzlers has been a rather lacklustre bunch, with limited lasting appeal. To an extent the same can be said of Logical, but it does prove rather more addictive than, say, Gem'X or Welltris.

As with all the best puzzlers the basic idea's extremely simple: The screen is made up of a series of tunnels, and connecting these tunnels are a cluster of cogs each of which feature four recesses. At the top of this area, a series of coloured balls are pumped into the play area, and the player must group similarly-coloured balls within each of the wheels, until every wheel has been completed a predetermined number of times.

The game is controlled via the mouse, with the right button turning each of the receptacles and the left button releasing a ball into the nearest channel However, whilst these balls are being juggled to and from the many wheels, a time-limit ticks away, limiting how long a freshly-launched ball can be left unattended.

In terms of presentation and on-screen information, Logical is perfect. The colour of the next ball to be launched is indicated, and the graphics are attractive without being cluttered. The main problem with the game, though, is that the whole process just gets so dull. There's very little variation within its 99 stages, and repeating the same process, no matter how intricate the levels get, doesn't hold much excitement and can be excruciatingly dull.

I don't want to sound too damning about Logical, as it does prove rather addictive, but I can't help feeling that there should be more to it, and, as such, I have my reservations.