So Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes is a puzzle-RPG that was released on the Nintendo DS last year, and in my ignorance I didn’t bother picking it up. It looked a bit weird, the box art was generic as all get out, and everything for the DS stays at $30 until the end of time. I was so very wrong to do this, and thanks to the magic of X-Box Live Arcade I have the chance to correct my ignorant mistake. You know, when I have the cash to pay for it (though $15 is a lot more attractive than $30)
Briefly: the game plays out as a series of puzzles in which you attempt to kill your opponent by attacking with your army, and defend from your opponent’s attacks with your army. The game uses a simple but surprisingly effective basic puzzle to play this drama out. You’re given a certain number of troops on the field lined up in rows and stacked in columns. If you want to attack, you simply take one of your few turns (2-4 usually) to move troops so that there are 3 of the same type and the same color in a vertical line. To defend, you use your moves to line troops up in rows of the same type and color. After X turns, your attacking troops attack, and your defending troops defend against those attacks. So if you’ve got an attacking group that does 7 damage, and it goes through a 4 strength wall, you deal 3 damage to the commander of the enemy troops. Idle troops “defend” in the sense that they usually die, but they take away a bit of the power of the attack too.
And that’s honestly about it. There are clever things like combining troops to make super-units, troops with powers that depend on the stats of your commander character, the ability to mix and match your layout of forces according to your preferences, individual levelling up of you and all of your troop types, “linking” attacks to make stronger ones, hero spells and abilities… it’s a pretty solidly fun time.
And actually, that’s the important bit. Solidness. At no point during the demo did I feel like it was unfortunate that I had to fight some demonic whatsit. It wasn’t grating, because it was always an opportunity to see if this fight I could really wreck the bastard in record time. There’s randomness in terms of troop layout, but the feeling that any given grouping of your army can be molded into a wrecking crew with the right couple of moves is baked right in there in the tastiest of manners. It’s one of the most tactical feeling games I’ve played in a long while.
Also, it looks like it’s kind of surprisingly long. The demo was at least an hour of play-time for me, and there are 5 campaigns plus multiplayer in the full game.
So anyways, go become enchanted with it by downloading it on XBLA/PSN, or just buy it on the DS. I gotta say though, I like the cartoony graphics scaled up to a big HDTV. They’re nice and crisp looking, it’s a style I think works great for downloadable games.
Edit: Hunh, also according to this article, the XBLA/PSN version of the game comes with significant improvements, meaning it’s both half-off and the definitive edition. So. Don’t bother with the DS one unless you love your DS in a manner most states have deemed illegal.