A wise man once said: 'Beware of paving stones with mystic symbols.' Under the circumstances, I wholeheartedly agree with him. Virgin's Sarakon could become dangerously addictive for anyone who doesn't initially throw it out of the top window of their flat or office in a bout of frustration.
Sarakon offers a top-down view of a 16x20 squared grid, inhabited on different levels by groups of stone tablets, all of which are emblazoned with ancient Greek or mystic symbols. The basic idea behind the game is to clear the board of these tablets within a set time-limit. To do this the player must connect and cancel tablets with like symbols in - much the same way as you cancel playing cards in a game of patience. Of course there are limitations. The main one is that pairs of symbols can only be cancelled if they can be connected by an 'imaginary' line, broken by not more than two right angles and not crossing other tablets with differing symbols. Good scores are built up by cancelling all the tablets on the grid in the shortest possible time, while connecting ones with the greatest distances between them adds a bonus.
There are three tablet colours: pink(ish), silver and brown. These are laid on top of each other in later levels of the game in such a way that cancelling the top tablet will reveal the lower one, and so on... At beginner level, different coloured tablets can be cancelled so long as they all have the same symbols; but at professional level they must be the same colour as well. There are forty levels, and bonus jokers allow for a modicum of cheating, whilst four levels of expertise will keep you hooked.
The graphics are suitably ancient and stony-looking and, since Sarakon is based on a timeless Chinese puzzle game known as Mah Jong, this is quite appropriate. Sound is acceptable and, although the rules and gameplay take some getting used to, Sarakon is a good, if not spectacular, addition to any puzzle collection.
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