The Might & Magic series is more commonly associated with hardcore role-playing game or turn-based strategy combat – but Ubisoft is going for another reboot of the series with Clash of Heroes.
The game is still turn-based and there's still a lot of strategy involved. But this adorable DS game is more of a puzzle game than an RPG, even if it does have the anime cut scenes and party stat balancing. Secret of Mana fans and Puzzle Quest-ers alike will definitely want to take a look.
What Is It? Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes is a puzzle RPG where players build up an army of various units to take into battle. Combat is all about forming lines of like-colored units – horizontal for defence and vertical for attacks – and trying to do as much damage to your opponent's hit point gauge before he wrecks yours by shooting attacks through or over lines of defence.
What We Saw Games writers got a crash course of the tutorial levels and a glimpse at one of the more complex battles (which can last up to 30 minutes, it sounds like). Later I was able to sit down with the entire tutorial section and two early quests, one story and one optional.
How Far Along Is It? The game is due out this fall.
What Needs Improvement? No Quicksave Option: I realise that the DS can go into hibernate mode just by closing the lid, but I'd really like a quicksave option for the middle of boss fights. You know, just in case I'm tempted to rage quit or enter a hospital's intensive care unit where the doctors will get uppity with you for not turning your handheld devices completely off.
What Should Stay The Same? Easy-to-Learn, Difficult-to-Master: Based on the pace of the tutorial and first missions, I'm pretty sure most players won't have trouble picking up the game's controls. However, based on the sheer number of units you can accumulate (way more than can actually be deployed in battle at one time) and the fact that there's local multiplayer versus, I think this is going to be a tough game to truly master. Exactly the kind of thing you'd look for in any game, even a handheld.
Final Thoughts I really liked this game both because the puzzle combat was solid and because the 2D sprite and anime cut scenes were so cute. It reminded me of Secret of Mana, Puzzle Quest and the anime Record of Lodoss War all at once – and at the same time, Clash of Heroes felt like a totally unique experience. Very impressive.