The publisher 10 Tons has taken the fledgling HP TouchPad App Catalog by storm, and is proving itself to be the number one games publisher for the new tablet, with the already reviewed Sparkle HD, Azkend HD and now this showing how to bring quality games to the TouchPad. We will also be reviewing another one of their games, Miriel the Magical Merchant HD soon.
Heroes of Kalevala HD is a puzzle game with a difference. Featuring Bejewelled like gameplay married to RPG elements and even town building, the title takes on a lot, but manages to pull it off with style and becomes a blisteringly addictive game.
The idea of the game is to settle your people in new countries and areas. In each area you must build houses to populate the village, plant trees and flowers to keep the villagers happy and even build things like sundials, fountains and castles. Villagers tell you how they are feeling with little speech bubbles over their heads, and you must arrange the town accordingly, for example planting flowers to cheer them up. The little people can be picked up and placed anywhere, as can every building and tree. There play area isn’t flat, but has a kind of pseudo 3D effect, and the characters scale nicely as you move them further away.
All this building needs money, and you earn that in the main part of the game, the puzzle mode. It is a match three at its heart, so the usual rules of sliding coloured icons to make rows or columns of three or more apply, but there are so many gameplay twists and variations that this is far deeper than something like Bejewelled.
Each level is a different shape and size, and the aim is to clear the stage of all the yellow blocks before a black crow does a complete circuit of the outside of the level. Exploding blocks adjacent to the crow will slow him down for a while, and you will need to keep an eye on him as he will fly much faster in the later stages. The quicker you finish the stage, the more money you earn, enabling you to level up in the village and unlock more things to build, as well as more villages to colonise.
Destroying four in a row will give you a small bomb, and destroying five or more rewards you with a large bomb, and these bombs are the only way to clear certain blocks so tactics are needed to get the bombs to the right place at the right time.
There are black blocks that spread out in time, covering the stage in oil that has to be cleared, chain reaction blocks that are locked but destroy large part of the stage at once, and plenty more obstacles, not least of which is the actual design of the 140 stages themselves.
The only thing you have to fight back with are the heroes. You can select one to use before each stage, and when you mange to join three hero blocks up, the tide can turn in your favour, as they unleash some spectacular attacks. Basic hammers to clear vertical sections of blocks, a massive flood rising from the bottom of the screen that gets bigger every time you use it, roots sprouting all over the stage, and even whirlpools sucking block away from the board.
It’s these characters, and the choice you make before each stage, that really make this game what it is.
The graphics are excellent, particularly for a puzzle title, and the stages can be a mass of movement, especially when some of the heroes get going. The villages are sharp and full of character, and the story is well told, with hand drawn, fully voiced cut scenes keeping you up to date with proceedings.
The music is catchy, and reminded me somewhat of the soundtrack of The Settlers, at least in some of the level music.
There are 140 stages to visit, and four themed villages to discover, each with its own set of level graphics, adding to the variety. The game has a cool stats screen, achievements as well as nice bios of all the heroes to be unlocked and even a link to a Website all about Kalevala, the Finnish legend.
All in all this is a fantastic game, perhaps the best match three puzzler on the market at the moment on any platform and one that will find a good home on your TouchPad.
The sort of game that you pick up to play a level and then lift your head up and realise a couple of hours have disappeared, Heroes of Kalevala HD is to be treasured.
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