Reviewed: April 30, 2010
Released: April 3, 2010
App Store Price: $4.99
Match-3 puzzle games are a dime a dozen these days, appearing on PC, game consoles and mobile devices. While the hook or twist to these numerous titles might vary in subtle way the ultimate objective is always the same – swap tiles to get three or more adjoining matching tiles to remove them from the board.
7 Wonders HD takes this concept to all new levels, not only with its stylish Egyptian presentation, but also with some truly original gameplay that will have you pulling out your hair near the end. Originally released on PC and mobile devices, 7 Wonders HD now makes its way to the iPad for its most stunning release to date with mind-blowing visuals and some authentic music, and even some good sound effects – all four of them.
7 Wonders takes us on a magical journey around the world and through time as gamers are challenged to reconstruct the 7 Wonders of the World such as theGreat Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, The Statue of Zeus at Olympia, and The Lighthouse of Alexandria. Each of the 7 Wonders has seven levels that you must complete to finish the monument and each new Wonder grows in difficulty, and with three overall difficulty levels, that makes for a potential 147 levels.
The gameplay appears to be much like other match-3 games with a few twists. First off, the colorful and uniquely shaped tiles you are matching sit on a grid-style playing board. As you make matches new tiles fall from the top to fill in the spaces, but there are two important goals required to end each level. There are two cornerstones that will appear after a few minutes. You must make sure to match and remove all tiles below these stones so they fall off the bottom and can be used by the little workers below to build the monument.
Second and more difficult is the challenge of matching a tile on every single grid space at least once, and in later levels twice. As tiles are matched and removed their background will change. Only when the entire grid is transparent and the cornerstones have fallen will the level end, and you must do this before the timer bar expires.
There are a few key power-ups that will help move things along. If you match more than three tiles or perhaps match a cross pattern of tiles you will get special tiles that will eliminate entire rows and columns of tiles. Knowing when and where to use these tiles is a crucial strategy near the final levels.
While the new iPad version obvious benefits from the increased screen size and awesome resolution, the designers also implements a new multi-touch element that allows you to remove multiple groupings of tiles at once for special bonuses, great for ambidextrous players or those who want to have a friend join in.
7 Wonders HD is easily one of my top 5 iPad games at launch. I play and try to solve at least one level every time I pick up my iPad. The graphics, the sound, the music, and the effortless touch controls make this a highly addictive puzzle game that will appeal to just about anyone and the $5 price makes it one of the more reasonably priced launch titles. I highly recommend.