Since its debut in 1995, the Heroes of Might and Magic (HOMM) game series has been synonymous with deep, turn-based strategy gameplay. While some may argue that the more recent titles have somewhat strayed from their roots, none will argue with the general appeal and sheer depth of the classic titles in the series.
The multi-platform Palm Heroes series looked to capture and recreate the gameplay of older HOMM titles in portable form, and managed to succeed to some degree. Now, with Palm Heroes 2 Deluxe [$4.99/HD/HD Lite], it looks like the definitive version of classic HOMM gameplay has finally arrived on iOS. Featuring a ton of missions, factions, as well as a hot-seat multiplayer mode, Palm Heroes 2 Deluxe will satisfy any strategy gamer’s appetite for quite a while.
For those unfamiliar with the HOMM-style games, Palm Heroes 2 Deluxe is a game of resource management, military prowess, and tactical superiority. Players control heroes that in turn command a wide variety of creatures under their banner. In addition to moving about the overworld map and collecting resources, fighting baddies, and gaining experience for the hero, players also can capture cities which bestow a wide variety of benefits. Using the resources generated by the cities and captured on the field, players can then build additional structures in the city which either bestow abilities on the hero, generate new resources (which can then be used to build more structures) or recruit new creatures that can be assigned to heroes out on the field.
The end goal of every scenario is to conquer all the opposing heroes and conquer all enemy cities. For newcomers to this type of gameplay, the learning curve may be steep, as there’s a lot of gameplay elements to monitor and control. Also, while tutorials do exist, they only scratch the surface. If all this sounds complicated, that’s because it is. But, that’s exactly what makes games like Palm Heroes 2 Deluxe incredibly compelling.
I’m amazed at the fact that Palm Heroes 2 Deluxe manages to cram all the gameplay into playable form on the iPhone. When fighting other heroes, combat is performed on a hex grid which would, at first glance, seem to be hard to control on the iPhone’s small screen. Yet, the developers took the time to implement iPhone specific controls to make sure that every move on the field is done correctly and accurately. An iPad only version of Palm Heroes 2 also exists and, in my opinion, controls better than the iPhone version. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that iPhone-only users can’t enjoy the game just as well.
For experienced HOMM gamers looking for those classic epic battles that take hours to complete, Palm Heroes 2 Deluxe features scenarios of all sizes and will certainly satisfy everyone’s tastes. In fact, the only complaint I have is the lack of a cohesive campaign mode. Instead, every map is self-sustaining and not part of an overarching story (if the map even has a story). This shouldn’t make a difference for most fans of this genre, as the gameplay itself is the compelling element and not necessarily any background text. But for some, I imagine it’s a disappointment. Also, while I’m grateful for the hot-seat multiplayer, I really wish some sort of online multiplayer could have been built in, as much of the fun in these types of games was in participating in long term epic matches with other people.
In addition to the twenty maps included in Palm Heroes 2 Deluxe, the game also offers a built-in store that offers over 100 different maps available as IAP. While some will inevitably argue that the extra content should be free, I think the game does a fair job of offering a decent amount of content while providing the opportunity of buying more maps at a reasonable price. In addition, a free iPad “non-deluxe” version of Palm Heroes 2 also exists, but it only comes with two maps, doesn’t offer as many maps on its in-game store, and it actually charges more for the maps that are on there. If you’re looking to preview the gameplay, I suggest checking it out. But, if you plan on making an investment into Palm Heroes 2, I highly suggest picking up the Deluxe version.
At its core, Palm Heroes 2 Deluxe does an amazing job bringing over classic turn-based strategy gameplay to iOS. Some folks may look at the simplistic graphics and immediately turn away, but they’ll be passing on one of the better strategy titles on the App Store. If you have any love at all for turn-based strategy games, and you’re looking for a game that has enough content to keep you occupied for a good deal of time, check out Palm Heroes 2 Deluxe, you won’t be disappointed.