|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Capybara Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Capybara Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 30, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Tony Capri
The Might and Magic role-playing franchise goes back quite a ways, starting out on pre-Windows PC back in 1986. The series later gave birth to Heroes of Might and Magic, a collection of strategy games based upon the same mythology. Capybara Games (Critter Crunch) has now taken the license yet another step further from tradition, creating a unique gameplay experience for DS that shouldn't be missed.
Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes takes place in the mystical world of Ashan, a land populated by tree ents, unicorns, and demons. You'll take up the mantle of five separate characters as they struggle to unravel an evil conspiracy that has pitted elves and humans against one another.
In spite of the cutesy character sprites and miniaturized overworld, the story of Clash of Heroes is a very compelling one. There are occasional lines of cheesy dialogue when meeting up with foes during side quests and such, but the writing is otherwise topnotch. The game's pacing feels very organic, and being able to see things from all sides of the equation is not only a great way to experience the story, it mixes things up wonderfully in terms of gameplay.
You'll begin your journey playing as Anwen, daughter to one of the slain Elvin elders. The game does an excellent job of walking the player through the basics, adding the tutorials to the main menu for future reference once you've completed them in-game. The character you play as for each campaign essentially represents a hero for the armies you control during battles. Both your hero and units level up, adding an RPG element to gameplay, but for all intents and purposes, Clash of Heroes is a puzzle-strategy game.
In battle, there are four unit types you'll need to concern yourself with: core units, elite units, champions, and your hero, who represents your health on the battlefield. Similar to Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, units fall randomly onto the battlefield, and matching three like-colored units is the basic foundation of combat. That, however, is pretty much where the similarities end.
Matching three basic units vertically forms an offensive team that lines up to attack after charging up a set number of turns, determined by the unit type. A meter is displayed over each unit team, showing the number of turns left until their attack is executed, as well as their damage/health. Once it's time to attack, they'll march forward toward the enemy, either damaging units that bar the way or doing direct damage to the enemy hero.
Elite units and champions, however, add many additional elements and depth to your strategy on the battlefield, and using the right units for the job is absolutely crucial to your success. A knight, for instance, takes quite a while to charge up his attack, but once he lets loose his wrath, the damage is great. Wraiths, on the other hand, are fairly weak elite units, but they instantly kill any enemies they make contact with. With five separate campaigns to run through, players will experience a lot of variety with respect to unit types and strategy.
Of course, we haven't even discussed half of the game's mechanics. By matching core units horizontally, they form a defensive wall in order to break damage from charging enemy troupes. Some units, such as those in the third campaign, even transform into walls once they've been defeated, and often sacrifice proves to be the best course of action. Heroes also each have a unique spell that can be executed once a mana meter has been filled, either by inflicting or taking damage.
Fusing and linking units is the last and perhaps most integral element of combat in Clash of Heroes, and players who fail to mine these mechanics well will find themselves fighting an uphill battle. By matching multiple groups of like-colored units in the same turn, you'll create links that add additional strength to your offense, and by stacking groups of like-colored units on top of one another, you'll fuse groups together to form a more powerful offensive that takes on the lowest charge counter of the two groups. Of course, you can chain units together by sacrificing a unit to create a match; since this doesn't count as one of your moves, it's an extremely valuable strategy on the battlefield.