Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes [$4.99] is one of those games I just can't get enough of. I've picked it up on three different platforms so far, and through them all there's been one constant: it offers an excellent blend of strategy, puzzles and roleplaying. It's more than worth playing, be it on PSN or XBLA, on Nintendo DS, or on Steam. iPad, too—aside from a few big bugs. iPhone, on the other hand? Not so much. Asynchronous multiplayer is a wonderful addition, but it comes at a cost.

Clash of Heroes takes a touch too much squinting on the small screen, but I could live with that if it weren't for the frustrating controls. This is a game that's likely to make most people feel uncomfortably fat fingered. You can zoom in on the action, which helps, but then you can't see the enemy team. The iPad, even the Mini, fares so much better it may as well be a different game. In fact, it probably ought to be - the iPhone version would benefit from a complete overhaul.

You see, the thing that makes Clash of Heroes great is its combat. Eight columns of units on your side line up against eight columns on the other side, and in moving and removing them you can create combos of attacks. Line up a column of three matching units and they'll prepare to attack. Line up a row and they'll turn into a wall. Do so by destroying a unit and you earn an extra turn, potentially turning your three initial moves per round into a ludicrous chain. This is all much harder to achieve when every tremor of your fingertip causes something unexpected to happen, be it picking up the wrong unit from the wrong row or dragging when you mean to delete. That saps out most of the fun.

There are a few other big problems with the port. iCloud syncing issues are rampant, and save corruption has been widely reported. In story mode, getting around can be a glorious pain in the ass. You have to tap at your feet to trigger conversations or battles, and if you tap ahead of your character on a path rather than tapping the next node, they'll often wander backwards. Then there are the moments, the first of which is less than ten minutes into the game, when you're given nowhere to tap. There's no node to move to on screen, and you might just think that you've gotten yourself stuck somehow. You haven't. Just swipe to the next screen, a gesture that's not mentioned or otherwise required.

Given the severity of some of the bugs, it's hard to call this port a winner. It looks quite nice, aside from a few poorly upscaled assets. It's still just as fun as ever assuming you can wrap your fingers around the controls. Best of all (and I'm not being facetious), you can buy class packs to unlock all the multiplayer teams, units and items—including the DLC heroes from previous versions of the game. Trust me, when you're eager for asynchronous multiplayer and you've already played the game through twice, this is a blessing.

With a good opponent, the asynchronous multiplayer is a blast—again, assuming you don't run into any major bugs. Clash of Heroes matches can run long, so you're in for a slog if you're stuck with nothing but slow strangers. Otherwise it's the best sort of viciously strategic fun. You can also play locally, but only on one device.

The single-player experience is a great vehicle for the game's excellent combat. The story is an RPG classic: a group of young people discover a demon plot and have to fight against the odds to save their world. Not the weightiest stuff. The characters range from charming to obnoxious, and you'll spend quite a bit of time with each as you travel through their respective chapters.

There are diversions—resources to collect, artifacts to find, and units to unlock—but for most of the game's many, many hours, you'll fight from one battle to the next. The combat is entertaining enough to carry most of the game's length, barring a few frustrating points when unusual win conditions throw on the brakes. There's also a ton of optional content, including puzzle battles that demand you clear a whole field with a set number of moves. The combat never changes much, it just gets more difficult. You'd think that would mean it would wear out its welcome, but my third playthrough is telling me otherwise.

So here's the bottom line. Yes, Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes is worth playing. If you have a recent iPad or an iPad mini, it's probably worth playing on iOS, though you might want to hold out for a few bug fixes. With those in hand, this could easily be one of the best puzzle strategy games on the platform. Without them, it's simply not.

TouchArcade Rating

  • rodgerrodger

    This game is fantastic. I'm sure it will be on my iOS 2013 GOTY list. Yeah, it does have a number of issues. Hopefully they will be fixed, but even as it is now the game is more than good enough to overcome them (well, I only play on one device so any iCloud bugs are a non-issue for me:)

    I'd rather play Clash of Hereos, bugs and all, than the endless runner flavor of the week.

  • http://bytefair.com/ Paul Graham

    Thank you for not giving them a pass for releasing a buggy POS despite the fact that the game is amazing. Totally deserves 3 stars.

  • famousringo

    Three stars sounds right to me. Five star game design with points deducted for:

    1. Awkward and unreliable controls.
    2. Wasted space due to landscape orientation making it almost unplayable on small screens.
    3. Pointless voice work.
    4. Loading... loading... loading...

  • KenGriffeyIII

    Does anybody know if this game is compatible with iPhone 4? I kind of just assumed it would be but I can't get the game to open w/o crashing. Can't see anything in the app description one way or the other on this.

    • RoaringGuns

      It works fine on my iPhone 4. I haven't gotten too far into the game, but I haven't had any crashing yet.

      • KenGriffeyIII

        Maybe I need to find a way to free up more RAM or something I dunno. Thanks for letting me know it works for you, though!

  • ste86uk

    I play on my iPhone 4S and have nearly completed the whole campaign and haven't had any bug problems. Also I have no idea why people struggle with these controls they work perfectly for touch screen and I never zoom in. If people can't work something so simple I pity them.

    • Phoenix24

      Spot on dude. No problems on iPhone 4S for me either. Awesome game

      • Stustaff

        I'm another with no issues on iPhone!

        However I will admit to a few issues and mistakes in first 2 or three games! Bit overall I have made I think 3 or 4 mistakes due to controls in many hours of play.

        Maybe this wasn't reviewed for very long?

        I actually think 3 stars is awful! And first time I have really disagreed with TA.

        Eg there are a lot of poor or average I guess games with a 3 star score! For this GREAT best of its type game to get 3 because of small non gameplay affecting (for the vast majority) bugs and the controls taking a while to nail. It loses 2 stars? I'd have thought 4 was fine!

    • MidianGTX

      Looks like crap. Knock two stars off for that then!

      • toxiccheese

        It looks like crap?

  • Kour

    Game is great. I'm sure it'll also be a contender for my GOTY2013. Sure there are some bugs but none that'll limit gameplay and will be non-issues when updates get released.

    • Kour

      And just let all the loading screens load up for the iCloud workaround. Swap between my phone and iPad few times a day no problems.

  • Amenbrother

    Little harsh if you ask me, I love it on m iphone5.

    • bobehm

      I had a lot of issues at first, but knowing a few things has helped. 1. Click one the node you are in to open chests, talk to npcs, or move off screen. 2. When you save a game, just wait. Pressing the back button doesn't do anything.

      Still having trouble with the bounty lists and yes/no dialogs.

  • jakemat94

    I also got stuck and almost quit when it didn't give you a node to tap on until I accidentally figured out you can swipe to move, which is easier. I also want to point out that you have to tap on a node to interact with whatever is at the node, like an npc, because personally it took a bit to figure out that you don't tap on the actual npc to interact.

  • Harti

    I sincerely hope there is a way to get them fix the Multiplayer.

    - Whenever that fairly annoying (useless, as it doesn't feature detail information) "Do you want to switch to that battle?" dialogue pops up I cannot delete units and will have to go out and into the game again.

    - occasionally I start with a hero, artifact and units different from what I originally chose.

    - quite often (40-50% of all games?) I get that nasty "opponent's move indicator goes crazy, the halts... forever" glitch that prevents me from making my move.

    However, from watching the credits it looked like it was only one developer for the port. It is a noteworthy fact that should be included in your review.
    And apparently, they're already fixing a few serverside issues, such as the "disconnects" row on the profile showing weird numbers (in spite we're unable to get disconnected from an asynchronous game..), so I guess they're working on all that.

    Let's just hope that there aren't too many of these impatient IAP kiddies playing this game so Ubisoft notices the low sales and addresses that with an update.

  • worldcitizen1919

    I'm playing on ipad 3 and its slowly been growing on me to the point it's all I play! At first I ran into the control problems but figured out the swipe. I'm on the Griffin land and its getting harder. I got to level 10 but even though there's skill involved it can also depend on the luck of the draw. Also I can't go higher than 10 but enemies can which makes it quite challenging.

    Even though I initially didn't like this game now I'm addicted. Points? I'd have to give it a 5/5 as there's no bugs on the ipad version. Only I want to get to the next section but haven't figured out how to beat the boss yet but I'm hooked. Been playing it every spare minute I get and its probably the best game I've played for a very long time. Worth every cent and much more. I highly recommend it for ipad users.

    • Dalboni Willian

      My deer jumps the wall, hit the enemies but not the leader. In fact, it keeps walking forever and never gives damage to the other player.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=730916105 Nick Major

    Loving this game on the iPad, the combat never gets old and its very hard to put down, even though I've already played it on XBLA.
    Haven't had any issues with controls or bugs here. I'm surprised you only gave it 3 stars...

  • Aafko

    Is this anything like the actual Heroes of Might & Magic games?

  • Frogshackle

    My biggest gripe about this game (other than some strange save file corruption bugs changing my in-game hours played to 390+) is the INCREDIBLY dodgy touch controls for removing a unit. It rarely functions on the first attempt for me - either flickering off and starting over halfway through or completing the first circle part and then resetting when I try and hit the subtraction symbol. My record so far is about 23 tries to finally remove a piece from a column - it just kept resetting over and over and over again midway through the process. FUN! (this is the iPad version that I'm talking about)

  • James Jiao

    Does anyone know what gesture/control do I use to get into the hollow mossy tree in Anwen's Ambush quest? I can see the tree, but I can't get into it. Have tried tapping and swiping...

Might & Magic Clash of Heroes Reviewed by Nissa Campbell on . Rating: 3