REVIEW: iHEROES

iHeroes is available from the App Store for a deceptively low investment of $2.99. This app is the remake/relaunch of Heroes of Might and Magic 2, originally released for the PC in 1996. The Heroes of Might and Magic franchise reaches back to 1995 and its sixth installation will supposedly drop sometime this fall. Even though there have been many spinoffs on many different systems, the core PC series has held a strong fan-base over the years. The development company JustCoolApps released this remake in early September.

Maxed Out Sorceress Castle

Maxed Out Sorceress Castle

Game Mechanics

Just like Heroes of Might and Magic 2, iHeroes is a turn-based strategy game in a fantasy setting. There are six different player classes to choose from- Knight, Wizard, Sorceress, Barbarian, Necromancer and Warlock. Each class has its own castle type and class-specific troops to recruit. The player spends their turn gathering resources from the world map, expanding their castle and hiring more troops. This is where the similarities between iHeroes and its predecessor end.

The first difference between the versions occurs when starting a new game in iHeroes. After the player-chosen scenario launches, the first time the player ends their turn, the app crashes and the game is lost. This occurs five to seven times in a row before the app stays stable and the player can continue their game. Most of the differences lie along these lines.

At the beginning of battles, iHeroes often freezes for a few seconds. The freezing leads the player to tap multiple times on their target enemy and then when the app unfreezes, it suddenly speeds up. Now the next few of the player’s troops will attack that same target as all the taps are processed. The app then resumes normal battle speed. So much for first-turn strategy, unless it happens to be: “Hey, everyone attack that guy!”

There are also two battle bonuses the player can achieve- “Morale” and “Luck.” With a Morale bonus, the affected player’s troop is allowed a second move after their first. With the Luck bonus, the affected troop hits for extra damage. When achieving a Luck bonus, a little rainbow streaks across the battlefield and anoints the specific troop. Somehow, this animation was swapped or replaced with the animation for the in-battle spell “Bless,” where a golden chalice pours onto the troop. It’s unclear whether this was a programming error, or whether the developers were unable to get a rainbow to streak across the battlefield, so they replaced it with a chalice.

In consideration of mechanics, the in-game popup messages in iHeroes often appear as a scrambled dialogue text with an “Okay” button. In many ways, in trying to reproduce the 90s classic strategy game, JustCoolApps has released a broken and buggy app, which is a pale shadow of the inventive original.

Game Mechanics        Score   1.2 / 5

Huh?

Huh?

What now?

What now?

Ambience

The overall appearance of iHeroes is nearly identical to that of its original. The main menu even remains unchanged, still bearing the banner of “Heroes of Might and Magic 2.”  The iPad app reproduces the 1996 graphics with little flaws, except those mentioned in the last section.

The audio for this app consists of two components: sound effects and music. The sound effects remain unchanged. They are timely and assist in rounding out the experience. The sounds are simple things like waves crashing and horse hooves pounding that round out the gaming experience. The original music was majestic and contained opera-like qualities. The overall score to Heroes of Might and Magic 2 was well developed and sophisticated even by today’s standards. It’s unfortunate that JustCoolApps didn’t feel that same way and just completely omitted the soundtrack for the entire game.

Ambience                    Score   1 / 5

Where's the music?

Where's the music?

Fun Factor

For those with fond memories of PC gaming during the 90s, iHeroes presents a chance to recapture some of those past pleasures. Unless of course you still have your copy lying around. However, if you need this classic wherever you go, iHeroes can help you there.

It might be difficult for any intrepid player to experience this classic since iHeroes does not contain the original Campaign Mode. The Campaign Mode contained two opposing story lines for the player to choose from, allowing plenty of different scenarios to slosh through. Yet, not only is campaigning absent but the original maps, for standard play, are absent. The maps that arrive with the initial iHeroes download are player created. The player can download extra maps through iTunes.

The developers did include the Multiplayer Mode, but it is only available with the Hot Seat option. If the player and his friends want to pass around a device, the multiplayer affords two to six players at a time. Unfortunately, there aren’t any options to play online.

iHeroes does offer the skeleton of this classic PC game, but does little more for any serious fan of the series than to make them dig out their original copy.

Fun Factor                  Score   1.5 / 5

No Campaign Mode?

No Campaign Mode?

Guidance

Any players familiar with the turn-based strategy concept will find iHeroes rather easy to pick up and play. The nuances of this specific title come to the player over time and with experimentation. The help files and tutorials are also missing in what at this point one can only guess was the developer’s ill-guided attempt at streamlining. The useful part of this game being over a decade old is that a simple internet search will reveal any number of guides.

As per some of the absent content and glitches, the developer’s website is well, less than developed. Their site, justcoolapps.com, is a plain white page with black text. The page offers a downloadable patch to fix certain bugs and a technical support email address.

Guidance                     Score   1 / 5

 

Frozen Battlefield with Akward Black Highlighting

Frozen Battlefield with Akward Black Highlighting

Final Thoughts

In defense of this app, one could say that I am biased- being such a fan of its original iteration or that if I never played the original, I would never know how much is missing. To this I simply answer- there isn’t any defense for sloppy programming.

I can honestly say this is the first time I’ve ever felt ripped off by an app that I’ve purchased. I can’t help but imagine a college dorm room, and some drunken freshman saying, “Hey I know how we can make a quick thousand bucks!” Yeah, so it’s only three-dollars, not a fortune, but it’s the principle of paying anyone to do a poor job. iHeroes is the dark side of open-user input like the App Store. Thankfully, however, apps like iHeroes are far and few between.

Lastly, for the record, I did download and install the developer’s patch and none of the promised fixes actually worked.

Final                            Score   1.1 / 5

Written by Andrew

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REVIEW: iHEROES, 7.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

One Comment

  1. Bryan says:

    I was a huge fan of the old Heroes series also (mostly I & II) but it looks like they severely butchered this port. I would have loved to play this game on the go.

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