Alchemy (video game)

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Developer(s) PopCap Games
Publisher(s) PopCap Games
Designer(s) Jason Kapalka
Engine PopCap Games Framework
Platform(s) Windows
Release August 29, 2001
Genre(s) Puzzle
Mode(s) Single-player

Alchemy is a computer puzzle game from PopCap Games.[1] This title can be played for free online at various websites minus some components, or a full version can be downloaded and unlocked for a fee. On mobile devices, the game can only be played if downloaded for a fee.


Alchemy was first introduced on August 29, 2001. The original version released for only available on the Windows platform. But in May 2002, a version was made for the Mac platform.[2] In June 2002, a version was released that was available for shipping.[3] In September 2002, a handheld version was released.[4]


Sample screenshot from Alchemy

The object of the game is to turn a board of squares from lead to gold by placing randomly generated symbols called runes on every square.[5] The symbols used as runes in the lower levels are astrological glyphs (symbols) Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Mercury, Venus, a symbol like that of Uranus, and Neptune (Virgo is missing). As higher levels are reached, additional symbols (e.g., droplet, lightning, cup, and om) appear, as do additional colors. New colors appear every three levels.

Level Contents of runes
1 5 symbols: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo

4 colors: red, green, blue, magenta

2 5th color (yellow) added
3 6th symbol (Libra) added
4 7th symbol (Scorpio) added
5 8th symbol (Sagittarius) added
6 (average difficulty starts here) 6th color (cyan) added
7 9th symbol (Capricorn) added
8 10th symbol (Aquarius) added
9 11th symbol (Pisces) added
10 7th color (orange) added
11 (hard difficulty starts here) 12th symbol (Mercury) added
12 13th symbol (Venus) added
13 14th symbol (Uranus) added
14 8th color (white) added
15 15th symbol (Neptune) added
16 16th symbol (pentagram) added
17 17th symbol (droplet) added
18 9th color (gray) added
19 18th symbol (om) added
20 19th symbol (lightning) added
21 20th symbol (wine glass) added
22 None
23 21st symbol (hot dish) added
24 and beyond 22nd symbol (invisible) added

Note: One can edit the symbols.gif and _symbols.gif to make the invisible symbol appear.

Difficulty levels[edit]

The game can be started at four difficulty levels. Easy starts at level 1. Average starts at level 6 (therefore your 2nd board in average difficulty is level 7) with twice the score. Hard starts at level 11 with four times the score.

Rune placement[edit]

Each play consists of a rune of a random color and shape being generated by the computer. The rune must be placed directly adjacent to at least one other rune (either above, below, or to the left or right; runes located at a diagonal to the square have no meaning), unless the board is totally blank. All runes that are adjacent to the square where a rune is being placed must share its color or shape.[6]

If there is no available square for the rune currently in hand, it must be discarded into the forge on the side of the board either by clicking the left mouse button while the arrow is on the "discard" tab, or clicking the right mouse button while the arrow is anywhere on the board. A rune can also be voluntarily discarded into the forge when an available square for it does exist. Doing so and waiting for a better rune may at times be to the player's advantage; a skilled player will likely recognize when doing so is optimal. In the easy difficulty only, a "no" symbol will appear on the rune you have if it needs to be discarded.

The forge has three levels that can be filled before the game ends. Each time a rune is discarded, the forge will be filled one level. When a rune is successfully placed, the forge drops one level to allow for an additional rune to be discarded.

Filling an entire row either horizontally or vertically makes all the runes in that row disappear and leaves the square gold. This also empties the forge to allow for a fresh set of three discards.

Clearing a board will not empty the forge. The final rune that is placed prior to clearing the board will lower the forge by one, so it cannot be more than 23 full at this point. Since at least five runes can be placed easily when starting a new board, this is more than enough to empty the forge for a fresh start on a new board.

Occasionally, a solid block that functions as a wild card appears. The wild card may be placed adjacent to any runes, regardless of color or shape, and any rune may be placed adjacent to a wild card, provided that all other adjacent runes match either its color or shape. A wild card also starts each round, and after the first round, may be placed on any square of the board since no runes are present on the board at the time. A wild card will also appear if all runes have been cleared from the board without converting every square into gold, though this is a rare occurrence.

A skull and crossbones symbol will also occasionally appear in lieu of a rune. The skull and crossbones functions by removing any rune of choice from the board. The skull and crossbones can often be used to the advantage of the player by clearing one of the runes from a joint (a square adjacent to two or more non-matching runes where the number of possible runes that can be placed there is more limited). When fewer runes are present on the board, the skull and crossbones symbol may be more harmful than helpful.

Use of a wild card or a skull and crossbones lowers the forge one level. Both of these can also be discarded, which will fill the forge one level.

The strategy of the game revolves around choosing exactly where to place runes in order to maximize future move possibilities. If poor rune placements are made, or luck does not allow for good rune organization, future moves become more difficult or impossible, endangering the game. The game becomes more difficult at higher levels, where there are more runes and more colors, making matching more difficult.


Points will be scored whenever a rune is placed, a row is cleared, or a board is cleared. The number of points scored for each of these actions increases as the game progresses.

Players are given rankings for various scores, as shown below. Whenever a board is completed, the ranking will be listed, along with the score at which the next ranking will be issued and various other statistics, such as the game time, the number of boards cleared, and the highest number of runes that have been placed in succession without a discard.

Score range Ranking
0-399 Cursed
400-699 Bungler
700-999 Dabbler
1000-1499 Junior Apprentice
1500-1999 Apprentice
2000-2499 Senior Apprentice
2500-2999 Prestidigitator
3000-3499 Hedge Wizard
3500-4499 Concoctionist
4500-4999 Thaumaturge
5000-5999 Transmuter
6000-6999 Wizard 3rd class
7000-7999 Wizard 2nd class
8000-9999 Wizard 1st class
10000-11999 Grand Wizard
12000-13999 Alchemist 3rd class
14000-15999 Alchemist 2nd class
16000-19999 Alchemist 1st class
20000-24999 Master Alchemist
25000-29999 Grand Alchemist
30000-39999 Supreme Alchemist
40000 and above Grand Alchemical Emperor


There are two music tracks used in Alchemy:

  • The load music for Alchemy, played at the welcome and load screens (visible only on the trial version) is named "War in the Middle Earth"
  • The in-game music is named "He Has No Face"

Both were created with Scream Tracker 3, and were the work of the module musician, Peter "Skaven" Hajba.

External links[edit]