7 Wonders of the Ancient World
Reviewed by Megan Parker
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2007-12-20 PS2 Puzzle E (Everyone) MumboJumbo / Hot Lava

Puzzle games for me are a genre that rarely holds my attention for long. Unless they're mixed into a more expansive game, I often get bored with what essentially feels like repetitive gameplay. 7 Wonders actually manages to break that stride.

The game itself isn't anything new. You rotate gems around to get a match of three or more to gain points, power-ups come to help out, and you have a limited time to finish it all. What makes it more interesting than others of the kind is the 7 Wonders.

The play area will change from round to round, and each wonder has about 8 or 9 rounds. You have multiple things to do in a relatively short period of time, especially as you advance to the new wonders. The play area is made up of bricks that you need to break up for the workers below to take to the build site. When you make a match of three or more gems, rocks will be dropped below. Once that spot is cleared, you can continue getting matches there, but no rocks will fall. Sometimes you need to clear each space twice, but that depends on the individual puzzles.

As the round progresses, a cornerstone will drop and you need to get that to the bottom as well, matching gems below it. Power ups, in the form of lightning (which will knock out all of the gems in that horizontal row, presuming no obstructions) or fire (which will do both the horizontal and the vertical) or this flower thing (which will randomly knock out up to 20 gems) can help you with both needs along the way. It does require a little more thought than some games, as getting the rocks and cornerstones out of certain areas can be fairly tricky. You can't just match gems away without thinking about it or you will certainly run yourself into a corner, likely losing the round.

Thinking ahead also allows you to get more power-ups, and the more powerups you have the easier the round is. Especially if you're stuck on getting the cornerstone down, the flower power up is a massive help at getting the gems below and any straggling rocks to break. They can and will save your game. The lighting one shows up with four in a row, the fire will show up if you get five or manage to do a vertical and horizontal match simultaniously. The flower will be dropped whenever you use four power-ups. The more power-ups you get and use, the more flowers you get.

There can be times where there are no moves, and unlike some puzzle games, it just changes the gems on the board, giving you some new options. Sometimes, you just can't seem to break the last few blocks or get the cornerstone to drop. When you run out of time, you'll keep your points as long as you still have lives left. Unfortunately, if you run out of lives, you will lose all of your points. You won't lose your place in the game, in fact, you'll start over right where you left off. You just won't have the points.

If you're not really into the points thing, it's not really a punishment. If you are, there's actually a way around that without losing all of your points. I won't say how, you'll just have to figure that out yourself.

Once areas have been built, you can play them individually in the quick round match. It also will unlock a brief history on the particular Wonder. There is also Rune Quest, where you are given certain gems to gather to win the round.

The graphics in the game aren't really much beyond what a flash game would be like. There are 2D sprites at the bottom, the workers, the architect, all doing various, but limited things. The workers are the most amusing to watch, from passing out from too much work, to getting bored and protesting. Sometimes they get very interested in a passing woman. In the background you can see the Wonder being built as you go. I do think it would have been a little better if the graphics were updated a little, and perfected as well. Sometimes the little sprites will overlap each other and it looks really strange. The rocks will also disappear pretty quickly, so you can take out a whole row of rocks, and depending on the time, the workers won't pick up any. The rocks will just vanish and the workers get bored. It doesn't really change the game much, but it is strange.

The music is actually pretty fun, though it's also limited in variety. There are maybe 10 or so tracks that are played throughout the game, so sometimes you might feel like muting the game and playing your own music.

So while 7 Wonders might not be the most graphically advanced game, nor is it in any danger of winning a Grammy; the important part, the gameplay, is very much there. This is one of the few puzzles that actually managed to get me addicted to it, and keep me playing, even when the puzzle was frustrating. With an incredibly easy learning curve, this game will appeal to just about anyone. I wouldn't have minded it being two player though... Rival Wonders!

Special thanks to Michelle Lentz and MumboJumbo for providing a copy of this title.