Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes
Clash of Heroes Cover Art (DS)
Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes is a spinoff to the popular turn-based strategy Heroes of Might and Magic (to be precise the fifth installment of said series). It is a puzzle game with RPG elements in which your objective is to defeat your enemy by reducing his Hit Points to 0. If you're anything like me, the fact I mentioned puzzle and RPG in the same sentence may sound oxymoronic. I thought so as well until I purchased the game and played it. Read on to find out more!
Note: This article will be reviewing the DS version of Clash of Heroes. There are other versions of this game, although I am not sure whether they have been released at the time of this writing.
As a game with RPG elements, it goes without saying that Clash of Heroes should have a good storyline. The bar was set rather low in Heroes of Might and Magic V, with a horribly cliché plot that you've probably seen a hundred times before. However, Capybara (the developers of this game) deliver a rather enjoyable story that maintains a good level of coherency throughout (plotholes were the order of the day for Heroes V). You will probably be surprised at least once or twice by the plot twists (at least I was!).
The story starts off simply enough. You are playing the role of Anwen, a Wood Elf (Sylvan) Ranger who is in a camp with her father waiting for delegates of other races to arrive. As the meeting starts, it is interrupted by a demonic invasion. Parent and sibling are separated, in not one, not two, but rather three different cases. In Anwen's case, the portal that takes her friends to safety closes before she can go through, forcing her to hide so as not to be killed by the demons. She swears revenge for the death of her father, and that's where the game's first chapter begins.
The game's protagonists are well-developed. I particularly like the Inferno campaign, where you control Aidan, the youngest of the three siblings from the Unicorn Duchy of the Haven (the Haven represents a majority of the humans living in the world of Ashan). As that part of the campaign progresses, he becomes more and more bold and aggressive, as he is able to control demons to do his will, and uses them to kill other demons.
However, perhaps the best part of this game is the gameplay, which I will mention in detail in the next section.
This game features concepts from the puzzle genre that may be unfamiliar to you if this is your first foray into that specific realm. However, the game has a very generous learning curve and half (give or take a bit) of the first campaign is a tutorial, teaching you the various mechanics you will need to learn to exploit to gain an advantage and vanquish your foes.
You attack by lining up three units of the same color and type in a vertical column. They then gain two numbers and start glowing. This is called Charging. The number that counts down is the Charge Timer and denotes how long a formation has to wait to attack. The number that goes up (in most cases) is the Charge Damage. Once a formation finishes charging, it attacks, doing damage to the opposing army equal to its Charge Damage. Each unit has a Toughness rating, which represents how much damage it can withstand if it is not charging (called an idle unit). While idle units die even if they suffer a single point of damage, it is still beneficial to protect yourself from imminent attack by using idle units. Alternately, you can line up 3 (or more) units of the same color horizontally to form a Wall. Each race's Wall has a different ability (for example, the Haven's Walls can withstand more damage and the Sylvan Walls can self-repair every turn). Any damage not absorbed by charging formations or idle units is suffered by the enemy hero, reducing his/her Hit Points appropriately.
There are three types of units in the game. The most common (and the first ones you'll acquire in Campaign Mode) are Core Units. They take up a 1x1 space on your battlefield and have the weakest attacks, but the quickest Charge Times (with exceptions of course). Each race has one Core Unit that has a special ability. For example, the Haven Spearmen can run through idle units without losing attack strength (an exception to the rule that idle units can mitigate enemy damage with their Toughness rating).
The second type of unit is the Elite Unit. Elite Units take up a 2x1 space on the battlefield. Instead of Charging by using three units of the same color and type, Elite Units charge up by being placed on the battlefield with a pair of units of the same color (but not the same type). Most (but not all) Elite Units have a special ability. Unicorns (Sylvan) are perhaps the most overpowered Elite Unit in the game, with a respectable attack rating and the ability to reduce enemy formation damage by a whopping 15 points while they are charging.
The last type of unit is the Champion Unit. Champion Units take up a 2x2 space on the battlefield and charge by having a 2x2 square of units of the same color placed on top of them. Champions boast the highest attack ratings of any of the units, but usually have the slowest Charge Timers as well. Most Champions have a special ability (Necropolis Wraiths instantly kill any unit they touch in their attack; including the enemy HERO!)
There are also Link Attacks and Fusion Attacks, which represent advanced strategies you can use to deal more damage. You can Link by charging multiple formations of the same color in the same turn. You can use Fusion by charging a formation of units of the same color and type right on top of a formation that's already charging (in essence the two formations become one dealing additional damage).
A Battlefield Example Pic
Graphics and Sound
The graphics for this game are in the vein of Japanese anime and manga. It is a graphical layout that I really enjoy, although some may find it too cutesy for their own tastes. In a sentence, it's a 64-bit 2D(ish) masterpiece. This game proves that 2D has some good years left in its lifespan.
As for the sound, it remixes various songs from the Heroes of Might and Magic V videogame as well as adding one or two more of its own. It's the little details like hearing your Spearmen hit a Wall or the sound of a Link being created that add atmosphere to the game.
This is a game with rather unique gameplay, and while some people probably won't enjoy the puzzle elements, I wholeheartedly recommend it if you're a fan of the genre or, failing that, a fan of the Might and Magic franchise.
Until the next time, take care and have fun! ;)