Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes scratches the ich
Since Puzzle Quest there has been a rash of puzzle RPGs. Might and Magic Clash of Heroes keeps the rash growing. Anyone that likes the puzzle RPG genre will really get into it. Only a few minor issues hold back CoH from being a perfect.
The story for the game is standard. The forces of evil are attacking and you are charged to save the world. Most of the story is told via well drawn stills, and in dialog. The writing in the game is well done. I never felt that anything said in the game was childish, in fact the game handles some mature themes, and handles them well.
Through out the game you will play 5 heroes, Aidan: The youngest son of Edric(a knight of the Griffen Empire) human, Anwen: the young female elf archer, Fiona: Edric's daughter. Godric: the oldest son of Edric, Nadia: the female mage and the daughter of Lady Delara (wife of the lord of the silver city) Each Hero not only has their own special power, but they each control a different army. Each army has its own signature units. This aspect of the game is well done. It truly gives each army its own feel. I never felt bored with the game cause of this variety.
The gameplay in CoH is easy to understand but has enough depth to keep you challenged. The battle layout on the DS has the bottom screen is for your units and the top screen is for your opponents. Your heroes health points are in the lower left, and your enemy's health is in the top screen's upper right. The object in most battles is to bring your opponents health to zero. In some battles you have other objectives, like attack two spots at the same time. (harder then it sounds) The way you form an attacks vary. With your "Core" units you will have to match three units of the same color and same type in a vertical row, if you line them up horizontally you will form a protective wall. (more on that later) For "Elite" units you must match 2 core units of the same color as the elite unit behind the elite unit. (So if you have a blue knight you would have to line up two blue core units behind it) Once forming this group they core units will merge with the elite unit. For "Champion" units you will have to make a group (two by two) of four core units that match in color to the champion. Once formed the core units will merge with the champion unit. When any group is formed a number will appear on the group, this number indicates the turns it takes before the group launches its attack at the other side. There are other nuances to combat, like "Linking units" and "Fusing units" and artifacts that add to the depth of strategies.
The Combat is turn based. Each player's turn consists of x number of moves, which is represented by a counter in the lower right. When your counter reaches zero its the other players turn. Each unit has a set amount of health but as a group charges for a attack they have a small bar under them, this bar is their health and their strength. Any attack made must first go through all the units in front of players before it damages the player themselves. If a unit is reduced to zero health they are destroyed. Walls act different for each faction but they all have the same function, to absorb attacks.
After you win a battle you get xp for you and all the units you took into that battle. When you have built up enough xp you will raise in level. Going up in lvl gives you more health, wall health, and more reinforcements. When your units go up in lvl they also get more health, and attack power.
The puzzle part of the game comes from the fact that your units are dropped in a random order when you call for reinforcements and at the start of the combat. You can pick a unit up and move it or delete them. Moving and deleting use up one move. You can get extra moves if you make combos. Combos are made by forming multiple groups of units with one move.
Other mods of play are Quick battle, which consists of a single battle where you pick you opponent their lvl of difficulty your army, units, and your artifact. There are two ways to play multiplayer one is to play with two copies of the game and the other way is to play with one copy. With the single copy, the game picks a random hero and units for each player. With two cards you get to pick everything much like in the Quick battle.
As for the flaws of M&M: CoH, When you start a new chapter beyond the first it can tend to be more difficult then it needs to be, forcing you to struggle a bit until you and your units lvl up. The story as I said before is standard and nothing that special. Lastly there are some times graphical glitches that pop up, nothing that makes the game unplayable but it is still there.
So to sum it up, Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes is a fun puzzle game that is enjoyable from start to finish, and with a friend that has a copy you can have lot of fun long after your done with the campaign.