When it comes to clones, very few genres are more prime candidates than puzzlers. When Tetris hit back in the 80's it was quickly cloned and in fact, is still being cloned to this very day. 7 Wonders of the Ancient World took the match-three idea and attempted to inject a few new twists into the mix but somehow failed to take the experience beyond what it already was and left the game feeling a bit flat. 7 Wonders II makes another attempt at getting a new formula for the classic idea right, and while there are some fun moments, it never goes far enough beyond the original idea to make it truly stand out.
If you've ever played any of the many match three clones out there, you're going to have a fairly good idea of what to expect from 7 Wonders II. You basically swap around tiles in order to line up three like colours, removing these tiles from the field of play. Of course there are also a nice variety of power ups to help you clear the board off faster that include ice and fire blocks that can take out various combinations of rows and columns of tiles. Each time you take out blocks, bricks are transferred to the workers who are constructing the various ruins on the top screen. The more blocks you take out, the faster and more numerous these workers become.
The stylus controls are simple and intuitive, as you'd expect them to be, but the flow of the game can sometimes be a little sluggish and tedious. Of course a lot of this is determined by how skilled you are at spotting the matches. This makes the early levels fairly easy in difficulty, but not to worry, the difficulty picks up fairly quickly once you clear a few boards. And getting to see new famous landmarks does give you a nice incentive to keep progressing your way through the various levels.
There aren't many bells and whistles with the game, but in truth, given the simple nature of the game, it's not a big omission. Online leaderboards might have been a nice touch, but there's still enough levels to complete to keep puzzler fans coming back, at least long enough to possibly get their money out of the package. But for fans of the genre who are looking for something a bit more up-tempo and addictive, this experience might disappoint with its safe approach and sometimes tedious nature.
For a DSiWare presentation, 7 Wonders II is fairly solid. There are some nice graphical representations of some popular landmarks and monuments and everything is quite colourful and vivid. The top screen with the workers and construction playing out certainly gets the nod in terms of overall quality, but it does make the rather simplistic playing field look a bit bland by comparison. Much like the visual package, the musical effort is equally hit or miss. There are some really unique music tracks that do a nice job of conveying the theme of the current area, but there are also quite a few tunes that end up leaving a lot to be desired. Sound effects are kept simple and certainly nothing you'd write home about.
It's difficult to fault 7 Wonders II too much because it does what it's supposed to do, but it never strays too far from a formula that's been done many times over in recent years. And the fact that it doesn't really blow you away with any of its visual or musical components doesn't help matters. 7 Wonders II is certainly a good enough puzzler, but ultimately its inherent similarities to other "match 3" puzzlers keeps it from standing out from the crowd.