Trouble Thinking

August 2, 2012

How I Feel About: “Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes”

Good! Generally Good. So, if you’ve got like $15 to burn and you were dumb and missed it on deep discount during the Steam sale, grab it in penance.

Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes is a game developed by Capybara games and published by Ubisoft, and is another in the long line of games that are all vaguely related to the original Might and Magic that everyone has forgotten because the like 40 spin-offs are all more popular.

Remember this? No, no you do not remember this.

So I’m assuming that all the random fantasy names and general plotline somehow tie into the larger universe, but I’ll be damned if I can tell you how. Suffice to say: demons are breaking out of Not Quite Hell, called Sheogh, and they kill the parents of a group of five children right in front of them with fire. The game’s sort of dark for a cartoony kid’s game! Like, I’m gonna say it straight up: there was more immolation and murder than I really expected. Like a bunch more. And yet, the bar you go to in one portion of the game serves milk and tea. Oh and it also has

The most amazing dude. This is a guy who knows exactly what needs to be done during a demon invasion.

But anyway the kids go on their own quests to become Heroes of Might and Magic and they each get a short chapter where you overcome some aspect of the ongoing war and treachery and ultimately foil the evil villain as expected. So how do they accomplish these mighty tasks? Why, PUZZLING of course! Similar to Puzzle Quest and a few other puzzle-based RPGs, your prowess in combat is represented by your ability to maneuver little arrangements of shapes properly except in this case rather than gems they’re beautifully animated archers and knights and whatnot.

In each battle, you have columns of random assortments of these units, in 3 colors. You can only move the bottom-most layer of each column, but you can spend a move to eliminate a unit at any level of a column. Align 3 units of the same color vertically, and you start charging an attack, and when it goes off your units shoot up and try to make it to the top of the gameboard. If they do, they deal damage to your opponent, minus any that’s been absorbed by their defenses. Align 3 units of the same color horizontally and you get a 3-column wide wall that will block damage from enemy attacks. There are also twists like larger champion units that deal more damage, your core units having different charge times and effect, and fusing or linking attacks to make them deal more damage. There’s room for some strategy, it’s very moreish to call in random selections of reinforcements and see if this is the turn you can cascade 3 walls out and then like 5 attacks or get one of your champions charged. It’s an engaging system! And it had fucking better be because it’s all you’re doing for like, 15 hours.

Not gonna lie here, I will probably win.

Which brings me to my major gripes. This game doesn’t wear nearly as quickly as Puzzle Quest, where I found myself dreading battles which was basically the entire game. You pick all of your fights, and you can always back out. For most of the chapters, most of the fights can be attacked in a lot of different orders thanks to things like Bounties and random grinding if you don’t feel prepared for a fight. But the thing is, the average fight is about 10-15 minutes if you know you’re going to win. The randomness inherent in the system and the fact that heavy attacks take a while to charge mean that you can be at 100 health to your opponents 50 and still have a 10-20 minute fight just waiting for things to line up right. Too much of the battle system depends on this random dropping in of new units, and too little depends on actually figuring out clever move combinations. Almost every fight can be won by making every available move that grants you one extra move, then lining up as many attacks as possible. It’s not necessarily the fastest method, but the game doesn’t really give you many clever ways to deliver a coup de grace. Eventually it can become pretty rote. Speaking of rote! They end the game with just the worst idea. Throughout the game, you take on the role of a hero, slowly build their army and take them from wimpy level 1 to godlike level 10. Except at the end. You start with all units, you start at level 7 which is just high enough for leveling to feel like it takes forever, and you have just the least fun to play army with the least ability to end a fight fast. So the last section of the game ends up suddenly ramping every tiny issue you’ve had thus far way up and isn’t the best note to go out on. There are 10 Battle Puzzles sprinkled through the game, and I feel like expanding the concept further would have helped. Having something to break up the relentless match-3 that requires some time and thought and comprehension of the rules was super fun.

I haven’t tried multiplayer yet, but the fact that it has hotseat gets it high marks in my book. Too few games of this sort recognize that turn-based means I can play on one dang controller.

Anyway! I highly recommend grabbing this, it’s a bunch of fun. Just don’t make the mistake I did and bomb through the whole thing in like 3 days. Spread it out a few hours at a time and have fun watching little cartoon archers impale adorable cartoon demons.

 

April 19, 2011

Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes is Something Pretty Fun Times

Filed under: Game News — Tags: , , , , , — Durandal @ 11:42 am

Pictured here: a delightful family dinner during which no one is hero-inspiringly murdered.

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.

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