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   Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes - Staff Review  

High Puzzle Entertainment
by Anna Marie "Paws" Neufeld

PLATFORM
DS
BATTLE SYSTEM
5
INTERACTION
4
ORIGINALITY
5
STORY
4
MUSIC & SOUND
3
VISUALS
3
CHALLENGE
Moderate
COMPLETION TIME
20-40 Hours
OVERALL
4.0/5
+ Great storytelling
+ Addictive gameplay
+ Excellent balance
- Not colour-blind friendly
- It ended :(
Click here for scoring definitions 

   The Blood Moon is coming and the demons are on the rise again. Though the leaders of the various races and cities may feel everything is under control, that belief comes crashing down with startling murders that throw five young adults' lives into disarray -- yet they are the only ones who can stop the calamity quickly approaching. Thus begins the incredible tale of strength and resilience found within Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes, which along with a fantastic story also boasts a unique and addictive combat system with an overall tight package that has been sadly overlooked.

   Combat is blissfully easy to understand yet deceptively difficult to master. Combat occurs over both screens, with the opponent on the top and the player on the bottom. Each area consists of eight columns with six rows to work in, with basic units taking up a single square. Turn order alternates between sides, with each side starting with three moves. Lining up three identical units of the same colour in a column will create a formation that charges for one or more turns and then attacks. For example, stacking 3 blue archers in a column will make a formation that charges for two turns and then performs a weak attack.

   Players may also take advantage of Elite units, which are twice as tall and have unique special abilities, such as healing the character or speeding up the charge time of other units. The even more powerful Champion units take up a two-by-two area, have much longer charge times, but deal large amounts of damage along with their own abilities. Champions and Elites must be matched with units of the same colour before they can begin charging. Placing three basic units horizontally will create a wall; each of the five characters have unique walls that both look and act differently. Each of the heroes also has a spell, which can be offensive or defensive; understanding how these spells work will be pivotal in winning against challenging opponents.

   Goals will vary from battle to battle, with only half simply being to reduce the enemy's life to zero. Bosses frequently move around on the battlefield, and often the end goal will be to strike a certain column or columns in specific order. For those who wish to be further challenged, each hero will be presented with puzzles
Wizards Walls, Wizards, and Combos
where a set number of enemy units must be eliminated in just one turn. Overall the game will stretch the creativity and strategic thinking of the player in an incredibly addictive way.

   The music in Clash of Heroes is fantastic, giving a very epic feeling to the game. The only drawback to it is there simply isn't enough of it. There's minimal variety, and players may find themselves growing a little tired of the same tunes before the end of the game. The visuals suit the style of storytelling perfectly, being slightly cutesy without being sickeningly bright; it's not stretching any boundaries, but it provides a solid visual backdrop for the combat. The only drawback is some of the colours are very similar shades, so anyone with partial or full colour blindness may want to take note of this before diving in.

   Few players will find Clash of Heroes too difficult to play. While there is a level cap (level 5 for units, 10 for heroes), those struggling with a current opponent or bounty can always enter into a few random combat battles to beef up their experience, lending towards better unit management as well as higher levels. The difficulty is well balanced so that the player is presented with a reasonable challenge. Between the five stories, players can expect to invest about forty hours into the game, though those who pick up the combat quickly may sail in as few as thirty hours with a bit of luck.

   The interface is another excellent facet of the game, and can be navigated either by stylus or with the face buttons. Switching units or accessories, viewing stats and other important information can be done with a flick of the wrist. The script is well written and maintains a thematic tone without sounding stiff or falling back on pop-culture references. More games need to feel like this.

Units Selecting Units

   The story is divided into five chapters, each of which focuses primarily on one of the five heroes in the game. Each has their own motivations and enclosed stories which knit together into a coherent and interesting whole. The game's originality is also to be lauded, as while puzzle games and the characters themselves are not new, anything that's been seen before has been twirled into something unique and it stands apart from the many safe clone games that are shuffled out year after year.

   Clash of Heroes is a game that came out of nowhere and is incredibly good. There's very little to say about it that isn't flattering and any DS owner would be proud to add this to their shelf of games. Whether a longtime puzzle veteran, a casual fan, or new to the game style, everyone should be taking a good hard look at this gem.

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