I love puzzle RPGs; anything that brings puzzle gameplay together with the storytelling and character advancement of role-playing games is a pure win in my book. My favorite of them all is Capybara’s Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, a genius blend of RPG, battlefield tactics, and brain-teasing color-matching that made its first appearance on Nintendo DS in 2009.
Last reissued in a disappointing mobile version 10 years ago, I never expected Clash of Heroes would get another release, especially considering its licensing ties to Might & Magic, Ubisoft’s largely moribund fantasy franchise. I’ve seldom been happier to be wrong.
In a surprise announcement, Clash of Heroes is to get a Definitive Edition release this summer, on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Windows PC. (Oddly, there’s to be no Xbox release, although the 2011 Xbox 360 version of the game is still available to buy and play via backwards compatibility.) Promisingly, the developer of the new Definitive Edition is Dotemu, maker of last year’s superb brawler, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, and many other great retro rebirths like Windjammers 2 and Streets of Rage 4.
Dotemu has refreshed all of Clash of Heroes’ crisp and characterful anime-inspired artwork for the Definitive Edition, and undertaken a complete rebalancing of the online and offline multiplayer mode. The original game’s I Am the Boss DLC will be included, along with a brand-new, exclusive multiplayer boss, Euny the Archdruid. The game will also be localized for Asian territories for the first time.
“Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes was one of my favorite games from the era it was originally released in. It’s a game design gem,” commented Dotemu CEO Cyrille Imbert, correctly. “I spent so many nights on my Xbox 360 with my friends trying to set up the best, undefeatable strategy, playing for just ‘one more duel’ until the sun rose.”
Clash of Heroes’ core gameplay involves stacking and combining color-coded units to increase their power and neutralize the attacks of an opposing enemy force. “Its battle system can easily rival the likes of Advance Wars for sophistication,” I wrote in my puzzle RPG guide last year. “The simple concept of stacking and combining color-coded units is extrapolated through a beautifully balanced net of rules across five factions and a substantial, 30-hour campaign. It’s a shame publisher Ubisoft is unlikely to give this the full reissue treatment, as it’s a stone-cold classic.” Well, I was half-right!