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Back when it was first released on the Nintendo DS in 2009, Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes' highly engrossing mix of match-three puzzle gameplay and RPG combat made it the surprise sleeper hit climbing its way onto year-end best games lists. While the low-resolution original was spectacular on its own, the fact that Clash of Heroes on iOS is a port of the updated HD console version is even better news for puzzle nerds.
Encompassing an epic tale of warring races and fantasy conflict, this cartoonish yet intense campaign spans the realms of elves, humans, demons, and undead, hurling each race into the fray against one another. The twisting and turning story vignettes frame up the action well, but it's the incredibly deep puzzle-combat formula that sucks you in.
In combat, the battlefield is divided in half, with each side's armies scattered randomly across their respective sections. Matching three or more like-colored units powers up the column to attack. The goal is to push through your opponent's defenses and deal enough damage to defeat them, though the advantage fluctuates wildly as each side takes turns maneuvering a limited number of units. Special abilities, more powerful units, and magical artifacts make playing each charmingly designed faction a unique experience.
The lengthy campaign is exploding with content, and you'll easily sink many, many hours into exploring its depths. But that's only half of the fun. Online and local multiplayer matches greatly extend the addictive puzzle combat beyond the main game, offering enough variation once you've unlocked all of the playable races to keep you coming back again and again. For all its fun, however, Clash of Heroes' port to iOS isn't without its bumpy patches. The new touch controls are easy to use, but they're also less precise than physical buttons, and you'll find instances where you may botch turns with accidental moves. Some dialogue sequences also freeze up and glitch at random, but thankfully it's only a sporadic problem.
The bottom line. This amazingly deep and addictive puzzle-RPG hybrid gets a mostly solid port that's still a blast to play, despite some rough edges from the transition to the App Store.
iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone running iOS 4.3 or later
Charming art style. Intensely addictive puzzle combat. Lots of replay value via online modes.
Some technical blips. Bosses can be very tough.