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iPhone Game Review: Heroes of Kalevala
      12/08/10 05:13 PM

iPhone Game Review: Heroes of Kalevala
Reviewed by JadeDragon

I know what you're going to say "not another match-3 game", but Heroes of Kalevala is more than a match-3 game. It's built around a cool story and lets you create 4 villages and unlock awesome powers of heroes. Yes, there are lots of match-3 levels, over 140 of them, and they look retina good!

Gameplay

Follow the story of Finnish saga of The Kalevala, you are tasked to rebuild a new world for your people. To do so, you must earn money to build houses, plant trees and flowers, keep gardeners, farmers and attract merchants with markets, and lots more. As these villages getting built up, people will let you know if they are happy or not, and more types of buildings and trades become available to you. Some buildings bring special abilities, like a well brings happiness to 2 villagers, taverns and inns make people happy also, markets and banks bring more money to your village and to your game, etc., etc. And that?s not all, each of the four villages you build has its own spiritual building, and each of these spiritual buildings brings a key benefit to the match-3 gameplay. For example, the Altar of Heroes will bring out the hero tiles more often in the game, the Temple of Pohyola gives you the ability to break boulders in your Match-3 games with fewer hits, etc. These abilities become essential powers in levels after 80!



All that makes a fun and simple village simulation game, but Heroes of Kalevala is at heart a Match-3 game. This is where you actually make the money to build villiages, where you unlock the powers of heroes and earn the rights to build certain buildings, plant certain trees and plants and all that the game has to offer. Match-3 boards aren?t very large even after 120 levels, but they are very carefully arranged to offer increasingly challenging gameplay. If you have played popular Match-3 titles that seem to have endless levels like Cradle of Rome, some of the levels in Heroes of Kalevala will seem familiar. But the level design in Heroes of Kalevala focuses on more layout twists rather than adding more and more types of tiles like in Cradle of Rome. You basically get ice tiles, boulder tiles and chained titles to make the gameplay more interesting. One thing that?s unique in Heroes of Kalevala is the tar effect where black tar takes over tiles if you are not quick enough to break the tiles next to the tarred tiles to keep the marching of the tar at bay. Once the tiles have been ?tarred? up, you won?t have any access to them.

The level design also works with heroes? powers you unlock as you get through the levels. Once you?ve unlocked a hero, his or hers power will appear in the game. When you have at least 3 hero tiles line up, you can enjoy the awesome power your hero brings. Some of them you?ve seen in other Match-3 games like lightning strikes out certain tiles, but the game does a great job at tying the powers with their heroes. And there are some interesting ones too, such as a tidal wave washes out tiles or hands come out of the underworld to grab tiles from the board. The power-ups are very creative and make the gameaplay fun. Before each level you get to choose which one of the hero you wish to appear in the level to help defeat the challenge. This makes things fun because in tough levels you can try different powers if you don?t first beat the level. Why won?t you beat the level? There is a crow in every level that flies around the edge of the board taking out gems that give you time bonus and the crow makes a complete journey, you?ve failed a level.



Graphics & Sound

While you might compare some of the gameplay to games like Cradle of Rome, but the graphics in Heroes of Kalevala is head and shoulders above the rest. Match-3 boards look incredibly crisp, each tile has its own animation and the special effects each power-up has on the files are amazing. For example, when the tidal wave hits the board, the tile pieces come loose for a moment then settle back into their squares after the water recedes. And when a big bomb goes off on the board, not only it sends tiles flying but even warp the board. The graphics play a big role in keeping you playing through all the levels in this game. Swiping control works smoothly without glitches.

Heroes of Kalevala has an awesome sound package that matches the level of the graphics. Background music has regional flare and sounds crisp also. Each village gets its own music theme and each music theme is well done. Both Match-3 gameplay and village building have sound bites, and they match the actions on the screen. Voice dubbing is also top notch in telling the story of Kalevala and introducing the heroes and their powers.



Conclusion

There are a lot of Match-3 games for the iOS, and not all them are created equal. Heroes of Kalevala has a deep gameplay combined with village building simulation, an eye-catching graphics and polished sound package. If you are looking for one of the best Match-3 games to play on your iPhone, give Heroes of Kalevala a look. You won?t be able to stop playing! There is also an iPad version, Heroes of Kalevala HD, available now.

Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics: - 5 - Excellent graphics, nicely designed match-3 boards.
Sound: - 5 - Each village has nice theme, and sound FX matches the actions.
Controls: - 5 - Easy and smooth control.
Gameplay: - 5 - Over 140 levels of Match-3 gameplay that never gets boring, village building is an unique twist.

Playing Hints and Tips:

- Try different heroes if you fail to beat a level, which won?t happen until after 85 or 100.

- The crow is annoying, but it?s not worth the time to stun it all the time. Focus on the board, if you happen to have something lined up near the crow, then stun it. You will earn more by completing the level faster.

- The Sampo machine generates money for you, but only if you stay in the last village view. If you go into a match-3 levels or visit other villages, the machine doesn?t do anything.



App Facts:

Developer: 10tons
Release Date: Nov 19, 2010
Price: $2.99 (iPhone), $4.99 (iPad)
Buy App: Heroes of Kalevala, Heroes of Kalevala HD

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