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In the game, you play as King Midas, who has accidentally transformed his daughter, Marygold, into a golden statue with the magical Midas Touch. The Greek god Zeus will agree to reverse her transformation if Midas uses magical talismans to create money to spend on others instead of himself, to atone for his sins of greed. To help him with this task, Zeus has presented Midas with a team of builders, so that he can rebuild various buildings and landmarks across the kingdom. This game is similar in design to another PopCap game, Rocket Mania.
The game was designed by Del Chafe and programmed by Wes Cumberland. It is currently only available for purchase at Popcap's official website, RealArcade and Steam, with a 60-minute trial period. There is also a free web version available to users of Mac OS X.
The game is presented in a super deformed pseudo-anime style designed by Matt Holmberg, of Magi-Nation Duel fame, with an extremely colourful and cartoony ancient Greek theme. The soundtrack, by Somatone Productions, is done in classical instruments, such as the flute, bouzouki (a prominent instrument in Greek culture), harp, and various ancient percussion and string instruments.
There are two ways to play Talismania: Story Mode and Hero Mode. In Story Mode, the different chapters of Talismania are various problems that King Midas must solve. Hero Mode is a timed version of Story Mode without cutscenes and with slight changes to the gameplay.
The player is presented with a hexagonal grid, upon which two or more talismans are placed. Inside each tile is a section of pathway, and the player must rotate the tiles until the two (or more, if the path has multiple branches) talismans link up, causing the tiles that linked them to transform into either bronze, silver or gold coins, depending on the type of talisman. The coins the player earns are placed on a scale, which lists the number of coins the player has earned, and how many are needed to complete the level. The tiles then disappear, and more tiles fall into place to replace them. More talismans are placed on the grid, and the process repeats. Once the player collects enough coins, the level is over and a new piece of the building is constructed. The chapter ends after five levels, when the entire building is completed.
There are three types of talismans; bronze "Owl" talismans, silver "Unicorn" talismans, and golden "Lion" talismans. The type of talisman increases the value of the coins that are created. At the end of each level, the bronze, silver and gold coins are collected into a meter that rises according to the total value of all the coins. The higher the meter goes, the better-constructed that part of the building will be. If the meter is filled, the player earns a Star, used to activate Talismania Mode.
The value of the talismans that are laid on the board is determined by the "Talisman Meter". On the top of the screen is the eight-letter word "TALISMAN". For every coin that is created, each of the letters light up first to bronze, then to silver, and then to gold. If at least one letter is lit up to one of those colours, that type of talisman will be laid on the board for the next turn (King Midas announces "GOLD!" whenever the meter reaches gold). The meter begins to tick down after the new talismans are laid, going in reverse of the order in which they were lit, from gold to silver to bronze and then to nothing. If another path is formed quickly, the meter can quickly be brought back up to gold before it decreases, but if time is taken to form a long path, the meter can rise significantly in one turn.
In Hero Mode, the game is played with a timer. This timer is a semicircular clock, which displays five sun icons around its rim. As time passes, these sun icons change to moon icons (as the timer ticks down, King Midas announces warnings such as "Watch your timer!" and "Hurry up!"). If the timer runs out, the player loses the level and must either use a continue to try again, or quit the game. At the end of the level, if there are still sun icons between the beginning and end of the timer, the player is rewarded with a Star for each one.