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A blending of match-three battle puzzles, strategic role playing, and a cute fantasy storyline is at the heart of Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes. This mostly straight-up port of 2009's Nintendo DS hit retains all of the portable's cunning battle design and charm, simply moving the handheld game to your...

R229.00

Price in points: 2290 points
Reward points: 92 points

A blending of match-three battle puzzles, strategic role playing, and a cute fantasy storyline is at the heart of Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes. This mostly straight-up port of 2009's Nintendo DS hit retains all of the portable's cunning battle design and charm, simply moving the handheld game to your television. At times, the game feels a little small for the living room, with text and unit graphics a bit tiny for a big-screen TV. But the intricate turn-based battles and the involving fantasy story have been moved over to consoles in all of their addictive glory, making it one of those games that practically superglues a gamepad into your hands.

Despite the similar name, Clash of Heroes isn't quite a Heroes of Might & Magic game. You might be confused in the beginning, however, because the basic structure here is nearly identical to those predecessors. The main mode of play is a campaign where you lead five young heroes in the fantasy land of Ashan (featured in Heroes of Might and Magic V on the PC) into battle while trying to soothe tensions that sneaky demons have stirred up between the realm's leading kingdoms. You start off with a hero who gains experience, casts spells, and equips artifacts. And, you lead units of D&D refugees into battle against foes in one-on-one arena-styled duels. Quick Battle mode and multiplayer are both available online and off, letting you stage one-versus-one or two-versus-two battles with customized armies (new to Clash of Heroes for consoles). Cosmetically, the game looks and feels different from previous releases in the Heroes of Might & Magic series, with the art tipped toward cheerful, colorful anime, and the mostly lighthearted plot aimed at an all-ages crowd.

But everything changes on the battlefield. Instead of pitting stacks of creatures against one another as in the Heroes games, here, you do battle in a Puzzle Quest-derived match-three format with rows of troops aligned into grids. You have a limited number of moves to make for each turn and can only shift the last unit in a line or remove a unit farther up in a column. Generally, you try to set up an attack or a defense with each move. Attacks are arranged by lining up same-colored units vertically aimed toward the enemy formation. If you place three green elven hunters in a row, for example, they chain, which means that they activate and start charging for an attack in a subsequent turn. When troops do attack, they generally charge straight into the enemy columns, doing damage to any foes or fortifications along the way. The goal is to get to the back of the enemy line, where you inflict damage to your opponent's health. Bonus damage is earned by linking multiple attacks of the same color at the same time, as well as by fusing two attack groups stacked on top of one another. Defenses are arranged in the same way, although here, you line up same-colored units horizontally. This creates walls that block enemy assaults and are invaluable for keeping powerhouse foes away from your back line.

In the campaign, gold, ore, and blood crystals earned through quests and side quests like bounty hunting or simply discovered in chests by the side of the road are used to buy units that are then added to your army. Units come in a variety of types, all with different special abilities that allow for bonus attacks, speedy charge times, health regeneration, leaps or flight over walls, and the like. You have access to a number of heroes and monsters drawn from the five kingdoms in Ashan, along with the demonic hordes. So you battle with elves, fantasy knights, cornball undead that look like they escaped from Grim Fandango, demons, wizards, and pretty much the rest of the monster manual refugees that populate traditional Heroes of Might & Magic games.

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