There’s something to be said for not getting your hopes up. Or not jumping to conclusions. And yet, when I saw that Ubisoft was making a new Heroes of Might and Magic game for the DS, I got excited that they were making a hack-and-slash action game set in a Tolkien-esque world where men are men, women are women, and orcs are orcs.
Man, was I wrong. Instead, Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes — which Ubisoft is planning to release this August — is a strategic, puzzle-ish, role-playing game. This is not to say it’s going to be a bad strategic, puzzle-ish, role-playing game (or a good one for that matter), just that anyone hoping to button-mash some orcs better look elsewhere.
In some respects, Clash is a Zelda-esque Japanese RPG, complete with turn-based combat and conversations presented with anime-looking headshots and text boxes. The game is slated to include five major quests, plenty of fantasy figures (from knights to necromancers), and the usual mix of exploration, combat, and conversation you’d expect from the genre.
What sets this apart from most games in this genre, however, is how when you get to the aforementioned turn-based combat, the game becomes more of a puzzler. The idea is that you have to line up three of the same color units, with three vertical matches resulting in an attack, while three horizontal matches form a defensive wall. These matches are made by moving characters with the stylus, kind of like you would in Bejeweled. Not that you can just move your units all willy-nilly; you can only move so many per turn, though there are occasional special attacks — such as a magic arrow — that don’t count as a move.
But while this kind of combat will frustrate anyone out for blood, anyone out for a more intellectual challenge will appreciate it, especially since neither your attacks nor your enemies do a whole lot of damage, so battles can last for a while.
The game will even have a two-player competitive battle mode, which will work via ad-hoc WiFi, for people who want to fight their friends but don’t really want to fight them. Or don’t want to fight them quickly, anyway.
Visually, the game kicks it old school, like an old Zelda game, with tiny little characters that are so cute. There are even some cutscenes that will use both of the DS’ screens, something you don’t see often enough. Otherwise, the game normally uses the bottom one to move and challenge people to fight, while the top has a map and your stats, while combat has your army on the bottom and your enemy on top.