Another reviewer called this "Civilization Lite", and I found that an apt description. I enjoy strategy/city-building games, and this was certainly a good specimen. The colors and graphics were great, and the gameplay was pleasing. It did tend to get a little frustrating/difficult later on in the game, but I would still pick it up and play it every once in a while.
O.K. I know I'm supposed to focus on the game I'm reviewing, so I'll be brief at first. I've been playing 1701 for PC for several years and the similarities are eerie. Even my 9 yo son pointed out the likenesses. the characters faces, some names even sound the same. O.K. now thats out of the way, it takes some steady hands to set up all the island buildings, towns, and the wii controls are not as smooth as the mouse movements I'm used to. Albeit, you expect differences, so its a good try. kinda like a 15 pitch at bat. whether you get on base or not, you really shook up the game. There's alot of room for improvement, and i'm not sure the wii action platform is the best format for a sim game.
In the lines of Ages of Empires, Sim City, and a lot of other building placement & strategy games - very fun & relaxing to play. The big difference is the jump from the PC to the Wii screen. In spite of the comparisons, I feel this game has a unique approach, and I did not feel it was a rehash.
The Controls: logical and easy to work with. In the in-between sailing parts, the building placements and the buying/selling interfaces were "spot on", and provided many hours of interesting interaction. I love the wii-mote controls anyway, and I know to position myself in the center of the room - not too close to tv - for best pointing sensitivity.
The Story: a simple, compelling classic (and typical) story found in history themed games - nothing surprising there, but the way it's woven into the gameplay is what I find of value. The storytelling mode vs continuous play mode offers two styles, depending on your mood. Following the story and missions did not leave me bored for a minute!
Strategy: the exploration, the interaction between characters, the various buildings, resource gathering/trade, keeping the settlers happy, and growing the population - it seems like the took all the great parts out of my favorite RTS's and put them into an easier, more fun-centric game here. When I say easier, I mean the begrudging, laborious parts are removed, and the pace and challenges increase as the chapters progress. As in ie: SimCity, I was not left asking "ok, now what??" at any point.
Graphics: Clean, colorful, well-done, expected graphics level in my opinion. Zooming in and out worked and looked great. The narrators & narration needs to get a lot of credit. The talking head characters are lifelike and keep you involved throughout. Sometimes they repeat something as a warning or reminder, but that only happens if you are neglecting your goals. They mostly keep the game moving and make announcements.
Overall: I was impressed and see the family replaying this.