Hero Academy

Key events

"This is a nice game that may well turn into a great game," was Chris Donlan's opinion on Hero Academy in January. Three months, two new teams and one additional battlefield later, was Donlan's prediction right?

Game of the Week: Quarrel

"Wouldn't you prefer a good game of chess?"

Long before there was an internet, people were playing chess with each other through the mail. Long before a bunch of MIT hackers made two spaceships move around an oscilloscope screen hooked up to a PDP-1 mainframe, we were gathering around kitchen tables to play games with and against each other on boards or bits of paper. Without these antecedents, video games wouldn't exist in any recognisable form.

Hero Academy Review

Hero Academy Review

Dota With Friends.

Hero Academy - the new iOS game from the ex-Ensemble team at Robot Entertainment - is a nice piece of game design, but a truly great piece of spot-welding. As a turn-based fantasy battler, it's easy to play yet tricky to play well, it just about survives the implementation of micro-transactions, and it's delivered with a decent bobble-headed art style.

What makes it a little bit more special, though, is the fact that all of this is then stuck behind a front-end that comes straight out of Words With Friends. You search for pals to battle with or select a random match-up, you make a move against your opponent, and then you sit back and wait for them to make theirs. You can message players in-game if you particularly like them (or if you particularly loathe them, I guess), and while you're waiting for a rival to take their turn, you can start a new match with someone else, safe in the knowledge that the familiar scroll-down interface will keep track of everything.

The game itself is pleasantly simple, a multiplayer-only affair in which two teams face each other across a tiled pitch. The object of each battle is to destroy your enemy's crystal(s) before they destroy yours, and you take turns to play: dropping units onto the field, moving them around, attacking or throwing in items. Each turn allows you to make five moves, and that's always long enough to put a plan in motion - bring a new guy in, buff him and get him moving towards the front lines, say - but never long enough to ensure that you haven't left yourself exposed somewhere else.

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