7 Wonders II
DSiWare | MumboJumbo | 1 Player | Out Now (North America) | 800 Nintendo Points
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21st June 2012; By KnucklesSonic8
As shown by the world map, the four-to-five-hour quest that has been outlined will have you venturing to various lands to rebuild famous monuments through use of match-three gameplay mechanics. Before diving in, optional historical facts are given to provide a bit of background on the place you're visiting and the respective monument that is found there; monuments such as The Stonehenge and The Great Wall of China. The last time such a feature was implemented to liven up a simple premise (iSpot Japan) I was very unimpressed, but here I think it works okay for what it is.
Players essentially head below the surface like miners and, using the Touch Screen, sift through the many stones that appear on the grid. But instead of looking for buried treasure, your goal is actually to create useable blocks for the reconstruction of these aforementioned monuments. As you clear tiles (or runes) off the board using chains involving more than three in a sequence, you'll observe blocks off to the right side of the Touch Screen being carried up to the top screen by way of a conveyer belt. Although the top screen does show workers carrying the blocks over to a hut, this is apparently done in preparation for your exit of the underground chambers, where you will then be asked to lay those blocks yourself. Once all squares have been filled, you'll clear the world and move on to the next.
As you make chains, the Ice and Fire Balls that are left behind will allow you to clear either just a row or both a row and a column. The Dice Bonus is a nice little power-up as well, randomly clearing a significant portion of the tiles found on the board in one fell swoop. The relative frequency with which these items appear means that you're not always doing so much tile-swapping. And anything that prevents this mechanic from becoming nauseating is good with me. Adding to this are special tiles that, when cleared, will present you with a hidden map piece towards unlocking an unexplored piece of land on the world map. There also happens to be another bonus that will lead you to a special mid-game puzzle challenge, where you must use a set number of moves to nab yet another hidden map piece.
You may have gotten this impression already, but it bears clarifying that measures have indeed been taken to prevent players from ever getting stuck or finding themselves frustrated over the lack of options that have surfaced because of their own decisions. In addition to what was just described, players also have the ability to choose from a gallery of unlockable bonus items that, once made available, rely on a full energy meter. Effects of these items include destroying surrounding tiles, eliminating an entire column, changing the tile type, and so on. Also with its own energy bar is the Shuffle function, which can get players out of potentially irritating situations.
There's nothing genre-changing about what's presented in this match-three title, nor is there anything very unique about it. Much of the key features have been done before in different forms, such as the running of a civilization as a background task or uncovering archaeological treasures. At the same time, I didn't find 7 Wonders II to be overly cookie-cutter. It is to be acknowledged that in the grand scheme of things, that might not mean much. If you do consider yourself a fan of these games, it's very likely that you've already encountered titles that have made such an impression on you that they've secured your attention as primary fixes when you are in the mood for this kind of gameplay. Still, it's nice to see this game doesn't stick too close to a template (as so often ends up being the case) and manages to come out as its own respectable effort.
To be honest, I at first found the game a bit hard to get into -- be that my own personal tastes getting in the way -- and a bit boring. But as I continued playing, I found myself mildly addicted to the idea of building at my own pace by means of the accomplished tasks during gameplay. In so doing, it feels like an actual journey is taking place that you're actually take part in, rather than just sensing that the game is doing everything designated to be the main task while you've been delegated what might be seen as grunge work. It's only through a small sample of touches that this comes about, too. 7 Wonders II may not be terribly memorable, but it's still kind of fun as far as match-three games go.
Presentation-wise, there's not a whole lot to talk about. Not all the animations are well done, but they get the job done. As this was previously released as a retail package in 2010, the appearance of the text, the background imagery, and a couple other elements look a tad lacking in polish. I didn't pay much attention to the music, but I suppose my decision to mute it entirely might be saying something. Overall, an average effort in this area.
7 Wonders II is pretty basic as far as its attempts to introduce an overall concept behind the process of swapping tiles. And yes, when put side-by-side with other titles from this genre that you've become attached to, this will most definitely pale in comparison. But on its own merits, the effort seen here is satisfactory and therefore may be worth a consideration.
19/30 - Okay/Average
Gameplay 7/10 - Match-three principles, explores an idea or two, use blocks created during gameplay to rebuild famous monuments, useful bonus items
Presentation 6/10 - A tad lacking with some of the visual elements, animations and music work fine but not commendable, does a decent job overall
Enjoyment 3/5 - Doesn't become nauseating, some may find the progressive building to be somewhat addicting, won't compare to your usual fixes
Extra Content 3/5 - Will last you a few hours to get through the entire game, can seek out hidden maps for a secret area, retail game for a smaller cost
Equivalent to a score of 63% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System