7 Wonders: Magical Mystery Tour
There’s something satisfying about lining up three matching blocks at a primal level. It’s an idea that anyone with even basic grasp of colour and shape can appreciate and excel at. While other arcade puzzle games like Cut the Rope or Angry Birds promote the simple use of strategy, games like PopCap’s Bejeweled are all about speed and pattern recognition.
But it’s a brief experience; an addiction that has no depth beyond hitting a new high score. There’s nothing to build towards, no sense of nourishment. Well, thankfully MumboJumbo have decided to throw some meat onto the bones of the match three game genre in the form of 7 Wonders: Magical Mystery tour.
Now while the title seems to allude to a famous Liverpudlian band, the game is actually about a group of ancient contractors banding together to build some of the Earth’s ancient fictional monuments, including Atlantis, Camelot and Valhalla. There are seven different wonders to build, with an eighth unlocked after completing the rest, so there’s plenty of gameplay to get stuck into.
Visually, the cartoon styling of the game evokes classics like Asterix and Obelix, and while you play through each stage, the builders wander about at the bottom of the screen, providing a nice wee distraction from the puzzling above. The graphics aren’t going to start a revolution, but they add character to the game, and in a puzzle game on iOS, that certainly doesn’t hurt.
7 Wonders, although having many superficial similarities to games like Bejeweled, has a lot of gameplay mechanics that help set it apart from many of the others in the App Store; the first of which being that it can be quite tricky at times. Rather than being a negative, it’s good fun to play a puzzle game that challenges the player to work faster and more efficiently early on. The only way to clear a round is to destroy all the tiles on the game board, while gathering the resources you’ll need to construct Shangri-La or El Dorado.
It’s the resource gathering that helps give the game the extra depth that moves it away from Bejeweled; levels can be completed without getting the right amount of resources needed, but the wonder will then remain unfinished until you go back and play it again. Not only does achieving the full amount of required material reap bonus points, but it also helps unlock different permanent power-ups as well, which are charged up by matching gems throughout each stage.
7 Wonders is all about your time management; do you have time to gather all your resources, to unlock the special rooms hidden on the board and get a high score, or do you rush to complete each level as quickly as possible for extra bonuses at the end? The game does allow you to play in these ways, but is definitely weighted towards a more cautious, thoughtful play style.
MumboJumbo have created some fine games for iOS, and this is another to add to the increasing list; while not as immediate and instantly addictive as some of its contemporaries, the depth and character it brings to the genre definitely helps it stand out from the crowd. If you’re looking for a new addiction that brings with it a little spin on the familiar, then you could do far worse than loading up 7 Wonders on your iPad and building yourself a wee paradise. And then missing your bus stop.