GameBoy

  News 
  Reviews
  Previews
  Hardware
  Interviews
  All Features

Areas

  3DS
  Android
  iPad
  iPhone
  Mac
  PC
  PlayStation 3
  Vita
  Wii U
  Xbox 360
  Media
  Archives
  Search
  Contests

 

Heroes of Might and Magic II

Score: 80%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: 3DO
Developer: KnowWonder Digital Mediaworks
Media: Cart/1
Players: 1
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

For anybody who ever doubted Game Boy Color's ability to host some serious gaming, Heroes of Might and Magic proved that a handheld doesn't have to be limited to side-scrolling arcade games or adventure/RPG titles. Now Heroes II takes turn-based strategy to a new level for GBC. Looking every bit like its PC counterpart on a smaller scale, Heroes II rarely makes you wish for more color or detail. World map down to battle screen, the main thing in strategy gaming is to have all the information you need, all the time. Heroes II for GBC breaks up the screens somewhat, so to see your current holdings you access another screen from the travel- or world-map, but it's laid out logically and with some good design. Characters animate simply, but detail screens for viewing heroes, monsters or towns are well done and drawn with nice detail. The music is great, and is event-based so that moving around, visiting towns and battling is each set to a different tune. Other sounds are mostly battle related. Reports in battle are simple, and while there are tons of menus and selection screens, making choices and using the front end isn't hurt by only having the D-Pad and 4 buttons. Very impressive display of getting more out of less!

Gameplay:

Any fan of the Might and Magic series on PC will know what to expect, but turn-based strategy hasn't yet found a solid home on console or handheld platforms. Most would argue that the problem with these games on anything but PC is long-term commitment. Nobody expects to sit down and finish a console game in one sitting, but playing Heroes II is all about building slowly and strategically to a triumphant finish. Take a cavalier attitude toward battling, and you'll get squashed like a bug. Build a weak army or leave your castle unprotected, and it's Game Over before you know what hit you. Heroes II is set in a AD&D-esque universe, with Dragons, Knights and Magic Users of all sorts. There's a surprisingly wide variety of monsters, and each Hero controls a mixed band of monsters and human-type characters. You exist in a God-role, hiring Heroes and using them as pawns to conquer the world around you. Heroes II features not only the Scenario Mode from the original, but also a Campaign Mode that takes you through multiple scenarios, back-to-back. More depth in selecting Heroes as well as in the ranks of who will fight alongside your Hero marks Heroes II as a step up from its predecessor. Choosing Scenario Mode gives you the choice to play a single episode with preselected resources, and against enemies that you can make more or less challenging. This is a great first start, and teaches the controls without overwhelming you in detail. Learning from scratch isn't easy, and although the manual tries hard to cover all bases, this is one of the only GBC games that will have you reaching for the manual many times until you completely master the interface. Once you learn the basics, you're 25% of the way there. Understanding how to navigate menus and how everything fits into the larger strategy are two completely different things here. Heroes II has great appeal over time, but learning the basics can be somewhat frustrating.

Difficulty:

Strategy games are beautiful in how they flex to accommodate different players' gaming styles. Some folks are hoarders, and build up resources until they're bursting at the seams with a huge army, while others send out skirmish groups whenever they get a chance, and eat away at an enemy bit by-bit. Either style is fine, although the variety in scenarios will require that you learn different styles to defeat certain enemies or overcome superior odds. The real difficulty is in mastering the interface and being able to think strategically. Heroes II is not like many other games on GBC, and while some people may see it as close to an RPG, there's way more to think about and manage. So, come with your thinking cap on, and you'll have a blast.

Game Mechanics:

Working from the top down, Heroes II has an interface that defaults to a mini-view of the World Map. In the beginning, most of the map is unavailable for view, and you have to go out and explore. As the map opens up, you can zoom out by switching screens to see where all your Heroes are as well as towns, resources and other locations. Also on a 'global' level, Heroes II lets you see the resources gathered by forces you control, as well as income you're earning each day. Progress is measured by day, week and month, and each full turn completed is one day. When on the mini-view, you can scroll around and select Heroes, towns, resources, etc., or you can press Select and choose a quick-link to different Heroes or towns that you control. Towns and battles offer the last unique screens; in town you manage recruitment or choose the way each Heroes' army is structured, and there are several different battle screens. The main battle screen is you on one side and the enemy on the other. Each takes turns to cast magic, advance or retreat, and attack. The other screen is when you or the enemy attacks a town. This is more of a 'siege' view, with one side behind a wall. Flying enemies can attack immediately, but the wall has to be knocked down before foot-soldiers can move in. Luckily, the game takes care of some things automatically, so mastering the battle interface isn't too difficult. And, other than the 'treasure hunt' mini-game that you can choose to take part in during your quest, that's about it. Saving up to 3 games is possible, thanks to the cart's internal battery.

Heroes II proves again that GBC can be as deep as you wanna be, and offers some great, portable strategy gaming. The genre isn't for everyone, and nobody could really claim this is a 'mass-market' item, but if hunting down Pokemon and repetitive platforming seems ho-hum, Heroes II has the potential to fire up some neurons and make you really think about your game. Some GBC gamers might feel like there's too much thinking for their tastes here, but nobody said conquering the kingdom would be easy... :)


-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

GameBoy Color/Pocket E.T. Escape From Planet Earth GameBoy Color/Pocket Lego Island 2: The Brickster's Revenge

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated