The critically acclaimed hybrid role-playing game on the Nintendo DS gets an HD makeover on consoles.

Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes came out late last year on the Nintendo DS, receiving excellent reviews all around. The game was a combination of familiar role-playing elements mixed with some strategy and coated with the tried-and-true match-three style gameplay. The result was an incredibly addictive hybrid portable game, wrapped in a delightful package as part of the Heroes of Might and Magic series. At Ubisoft’s Digital Day event, we learned that developer Capybara has decided to take its game to Xbox Live Arcade as well as the PlayStation Network to take advantage of online (and offline) play.

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The game is not just a straight port from the DS version. It keeps the major elements intact, but the art has been completely redone, hand-animated from scratch to give it a fresh new look for HD consoles. Everything from the units and interface to the maps has been redone, and more attention was paid to the multiplayer mode. The DS game had a multiplayer component, but lead writer Dan Vader said that most people likely didn’t have the opportunity to play the game with others. He added that now that the game is making its way online, it gives people the perfect opportunity to play with friends online or offline.

For the competitive types, leaderboards and ranking have been added as well. The developers scoured the forums for fan feedback, so some tweaks have been made to enhance the overall experience. For example, underpowered units that no one really used have been given new abilities, and the more powerful ones have received a bit of a downgrade for gameplay balance.

The main story lets you play as one of the five young heroes, who each have their own campaign, but their stories will cross paths with the others at some point. The core of the game is the battle, which is a turned-based system where players are given three moves each. Instead of lining up jewels like in Puzzle Quest, you’re lining up units–horizontally to build a wall or vertically to attack. The screen is split in two, so your opponent is across the way. You can move only the units that are in the back of your army. Through careful planning, by matching multiple units at once, you’ll gain a turn back for each chain. You can also delete units, which takes up a turn, but they wind up in your reinforcement pool and can be called back when the time is right. Most of your units will take up one grid, but the more powerful elite and champion units will take up more, so it’s a matter of positioning them properly and using their abilities to your advantage.

The gameplay can get quite deep, but the general premise of a fight is to line up your units to build walls and attack, until you deplete the health of your opponent. Your units will level as you go, and you can mix and match the kinds of units you want to suit your own play style. Only the multiplayer portion of the game was shown at the event, so there could be other new additions that we haven’t seen yet. But from what was shown, the multiplayer mode looks to provide quite a bit of replay value once you’ve completed the campaign. Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes keeps the anime-like art style from the previous game, but instead of the classic sprites, individual characters on the battlefield are now much more detailed and polished.

For more details on the DS game, see our review here. Otherwise, look for the game when it’s released on XBLA and PSN sometime in the first quarter of 2011.

By Sophia Tong