One of the hallmarks of a good casual game is that it’s easy to pick up but virtually impossible to put down.

Perhaps this is why Toy Box Games’ Ancient Tripeaks enjoyed both critical and commercial success for its simple but addictive game-play, so the talented team is back with a stellar sequel that kicks it up a notch, as Emeril Lagasse would say.

In case you’ve never played the original game, Ancient Tripeaks 2 can best be described as a virtual solitaire card game that challenges you to remove cards by stacking them in ascending or descending order.

So, say, you have a King face up on the card pile at the bottom of the screen. Depending on the layout of the pile in the middle of the screen, which varies from one game mode to another, you must click on either a Queen or Ace, which is then placed on top of the King. The goal is to keep placing cards on the stacked pile in ascending or descending order, such as King, Queen, Jack, 10, Jack, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8 and 9. When you run out of options, you need to flip a face-down card from a pile at the bottom of the screen. When you run out of cards, it’s game over.

Unlike other solitaire game such as Klondike, the card’s suit doesn’t matter, so a black card can be placed on top of another one, for instance. Clicking on face-up cards in the middle of the screen will also turn over the cards underneath it; these must all be used in order to finish the level.

Ancient Tripeaks 2 builds on the original formula in a handful of ways. For one, there’s an entertaining story based on ancient Greek history. Eight stone statues of prominent Greek figures were destroyed by Zeus in a fit of rage. Your job is to rebuild each of these fallen heroes so that history will remember them. Each character, such as Helen or Paris, is accompanied by a story and special bonus cards specific to these set of levels. Little workers line the sides of the screen, so competing the various levels will result in these little guys working harder to restore the statues before you eyes!

Speaking of special cards, Ancient Tripeaks 2 is packed with many bonuses, power-up cards, score and combo multipliers and other goodies for playing well — whether it’s because you’ve chained a high number of cards together, uncovered special gold cards worth more points or earned helpful treats such as being able to see the face-down cards simply by waving your mouse over them. Players can choose to play the game in the Power-up mode or without (the Original mode).

Another big change over the first Ancient Tripeaks is the 16 unique board layouts available to the player, each one offering a unique card layout. Medusa, for example, has face-down cards in a kind of wild pattern, perhaps inspired by the mythological beast’s serpents instead of hair. The Aphrodite layout, on the other hand, offers many face-down cards covering most of the screen. Not all of these card layouts are available to the player at the start of the game.

Players can also choose the color and style of the front and back of the cards, or have it randomly presented for each level.

Competitive types will also enjoy the Ancient Tripeaks 2 online scoring system that not only includes high-score boards for you to compare your skill to other game players but also contains daily, weekly, monthly and all-time high-scores for each game type. Too bad you can’t play the game online, in a head-to-head fashion, against other players; imagine a split-screen window setup, where gamers can compete to clear their board fastest or rack up the most points within five minutes of play. Just a thought.

Moreover, the game makers should have included an all-new new game type instead of just two options: with or without power-ups. But at least there are multiple board layouts to choose from, not to mention the various statues to build up.

Despite these minor shortcomings, Toy Box Games proves you can successfully build on a formula by introducing a fun story, new board layouts, improved graphics and special power-up cards and bonuses to satisfy fans of the series.

Whether you’ve spent time with the original game or not, Ancient Tripeaks 2 proves to be a fun, accessible and addictive diversion that will keep you entertained for five minutes or five hours.