Judging from the colorful anime characters and soothing soundtrack, you might mistake Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes for a Japanese-style console role-playing game. But it's actually a unique hybrid game that offers an RPG-like Story mode complete with character progression, quests, and items--plus some light strategy elements--all wrapped around match-three-style puzzle gameplay similar to that of Puzzle Quest. So you get a very substantial Story mode, plus single-player quick battles and multi- or single-cart multiplayer. And while Clash of Heroes' puzzle mechanics aren't always elegant, the meaty Story mode and RPG-like progression make it a great all-around package for those with any interest in both puzzle games and RPGs.
In Clash of Heroes, you'll engage in puzzle battles with armies of angels, demons, and knights.
Clash of Heroes takes several cues from the Heroes of Might and Magic strategy series for the PC--a classic set of hybrid strategy-RPG games that let you play as a hero character from one of several factions, each of which produced a different set of fabulous warriors and monsters of varying levels of power to join your hero's quest. On the off chance that you're a fan of the Heroes series, you'll be pleasantly surprised to see several references to it. For instance, various Heroes factions and critters, such as the mystical wizard's tower and the demonic inferno (and their assorted denizens) make an appearance here. And just like in the Heroes series, in this game, you play as a hero that gains experience levels, collects gold and resources, and hires more-powerful creatures from habitat structures as they become available.
However, the core of the game is its head-to-head, turn-based puzzle battles. Battles take place on two 8-by-6 grids, one on the upper DS screen and one on the lower screen, that are filled with military units of various colors. Your job is to use the few moves you have each turn to match identical units of the same color in specific patterns, such as horizontal lines, which builds a defensive wall between the screens. Walls shield you from attacks and have other properties depending on which hero you're playing (the nature-loving Sylvan heroes, for instance, have vine walls that grow bigger each turn). Matching three normal units vertically will charge them and set them to attack after they charge up for several rounds (different units have differing charge times with different damage levels and other properties). Once the timer runs down, they'll rush forward across DS screens and attack anything across from them, including enemy walls, enemy units, specific targets of opportunity located in some of the puzzle-like challenge missions, and, in many cases, enemy heroes. These units disappear forever, but they replenish your offscreen reserves of units, which you can reinforce by spending a move to call in more troops. You can also set yourself up for various attack bonuses by activating more than one group of the same color in the same turn, which is known as a link bonus, or by stacking two identical, activated units vertically on top of each other, which provides the even more powerful fusion bonus.
The turn-based puzzle system is challenging and satisfying once you figure it out.
Each hero can equip up to three different low-level units and has two additional slots in his army for more-powerful creatures, including elite units, which take up two vertical spaces, and champion units, which take up a 2-by-2 grid. Elite units require two identical low-level units of the same color lined up vertically beneath them to activate them for battle, while champion units require a 2-by-2 grid of four identical low-level units lined up, though once they're charged, some elite and champion units can turn the tide of battle, both because they have powerful abilities such as healing your hero while charging, ignoring walls, or obliterating idle enemy units, and also because they tend to be tougher than nonactivated units and can often soak up more damage than a wall. And aside from standard, elite, and champion units, your hero has a single, unique spell ability that is intended to be a game-changer (such as detonating all your existing walls into devastating fireball attacks). In addition, you may equip your choice of one artifact item (the actual list of available artifacts depends on your faction), which will provide a global bonus to your hero's units, walls, or health...or some other miscellaneous advantage. Choosing your unit loadout and artifacts (and in Story mode, choosing which elite and champion units to purchase with your limited funds), along with choosing your next move in each puzzle battle, add some strategic depth as well.