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Zaurus Software Reviews: Mystic Runes 1.0.0
09/16/02
By Steve Emms


Mystic Runes is available for both a Palm OS device, and for the Sharp Zaurus. It's cross platform because it's a Java application, and runs on the Zaurus using the Jeode virtual manager. Having Java available on the device has certainly increased the number of applications that are available.

Mystic Runes is developed by Bangstate, a software developer with offices in New York and Chicago. They have also written Timelog, a personal time tracker, which I'll be reviewing shortly. Bangstate don't limit themselves just to commercial software though - they have 3 OpenSource applications available for download, although they are not for the Zaurus platform.

Installation was a breeze to a CompactFlash card, and the installation placed an icon in the Jeode tab, as expected. If only most Linux software was as trivial to install, although the Zaurus has a major advantage in this area as (almost) everyone has the same version of the Embedix kernel, with the same libraries.

Starting up the game, you are presented with 12 cards with strange symbols. But after reading the documentation you discover they are in fact "rune stones". This is a puzzle game for the Zaurus, where the goal is to score as many points as possible by matching these rune stones, in accordance with some fairly complicated rules. The cards are placed in the three empty card slots at the bottom of the screen.

It's essential to read the documentation (a PDF file) before starting the game. The rules of what constitutes a valid match are not trivial to learn, although with a little bit of practice they aren't that difficult. Each time you correctly match 3 rune stones you score between 5-10 points, depending on how quickly you find the match. But each incorrect match costs you points, and it wasn't long before I was in negative points on my first game. What makes this puzzle even more mindblowing is there may not even be a valid match, in which case you need to request a new deal. Requesting a new deal when there is a valid match among the 12 stones costs you points, as does asking for help from the program itself.

The game is further complicated when "Loki the Shapeshifter" appears on one of the stones. This stone forms a match of two other stones of the same color regardless of the rune, rows or columns.

Mystic Runes is an addictive game. It doesn't have nor need good graphics. The game revolves around challenging you to think! I liked the statistics page which shows how many matches you've made, bad matches, number of times help used, as well as your quickest and average match. To date, my quickest match is a not terribly impressive 8 seconds.

If you like puzzle games, you should definitely give this game a try. It wasn't long before the puzzle games that come with the Zaurus had lost their fun. Mystic Runes is a worthy addition.

Product Details:

Name: Mystic Runes 1.0.0
Company: Bangstate
Price: $7.50
Pros: Fun and challenging, clear documentation
Cons: For puzzle lovers only
Rating: 7/10

Back to Zaurus Software Reviews


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