Hero’s Hour

Hero’s Hour is an indie game that’s basically Heroes of Might and Magic but for mobile, except then for PC again. It’s got pixel art so it can squeeze under 1GB and fit into the spare space next to all your photos and videos and stuff, and while its interface was resized for PC and isn’t obnoxiously massive on a monitor, it does come across like it was designed for a smaller screen. I borrowed a disc of Heroes of Might and Magic from a friend for a bit in Elementary school and then never played it again after I gave it back –

Okay, actually, brief aside, because I can’t let this story go past without expressing some rancor. I actually traded for the game with a game called Lego Island that I couldn’t get working on my family PC anyway. The kid I traded with gave me a burned copy of HoMM II, and when my babysitter at the time found it, she pressured me into trading it back because I’d given away an original copy of a game for a burned disc and the dipshit thought I’d been scammed. Of course, if you think about it for all of two seconds, you realize that what I’d actually done is given away a game that doesn’t work on my PC anyway (and as an eight year old I had absolutely no hope of upgrading) and in exchange got a copy of a game which both worked and was also much better. While it was indeed pretty shady of the other kid to trade outright for a burned disc instead of throwing in a burned copy of the original Lego Island game after the fact so that we both get both games, the deal he offered me was still a good one from my perspective, regardless of the other kid’s ability to offer a better one at trivial cost.

Plus, what I didn’t realize until afterwards is that fucking obviously the other kid burned a copy of Lego Island before giving the original disc back to me in exchange for the burned copy of HoMM II, so it’s not like this was even preventing him from benefiting from his arbitrage (and if that was the goal, then I should’ve been told to demand a copy of Lego Island, since he’s clearly capable of making them), nor did it impede his piracy in any way (I didn’t even know he was planning to trade me a burned copy until we made the trade and he still wound up with copies of both games – the only one who lost anything was me, the one who bought Lego Island with my allowance money and then traded it fair and square). Fighting piracy was certainly not the motive regardless, because that babysitter promised to work out how to burn a copy of Lego Island so that we could trade copies instead of an original for the copy, and then she didn’t. I was moving to the other side of the state in just a few weeks and she knew it, so the time window on this was pretty narrow. I wish I’d tried just hiding the HoMM II copy and lying about having traded it back. I wouldn’t have been able to present the Lego Island disc as proof, but maybe she wouldn’t have called my bluff, and even if she had, there was relatively little she could’ve done about it.

Anyways, the relevant point of all this is that I did play HoMM II as a kid, but not very much, so I know how the games work but am certainly not a good perspective on how Hero’s Hour holds up to that series’ highlights (although I am given to understand that the last few games have been garbage). I don’t know how the balance of Hero’s Hour factions compares, or if the units are more or less noticeably distinct, or if the different heroes have more gameplay variety, or whatever. What I can say is that there’s enough overlap between different heroes and factions that none of them feel super distinct from each other after sinking a few hours into the game.

I can’t even properly remember how long a single HoMM II scenario took to complete or how far into it I got, so I have no idea if the name “Hero’s Hour” refers to how the game is usually over in just an hour (or two), i.e. it’s Heroes (of Might and Magic) in an hour, or if HoMM was always like that and “Hero’s Hour” was just a cool sounding name that gets the fantasy vibe across while helping to identify the game as a HoMM successor. But certainly it is cool that the games only last about an hour or two. You can’t quite squeeze it into a lunch break, but you can squeeze it into an afternoon. I suspect that Hero’s Hour is much faster than HoMM because it has realtime battles, which means they tend to be over in about 3 minutes, and even titanic clashes usually take no more than 5-10 minutes. Going turn-based, I can easily imagine HoMM battles lasting 30 minutes if both armies are large enough.

Unfortunately, there’s not any kind of campaign released yet, and they’ve already pumped out one DLC, so it seems like there isn’t one planned. There definitely was one planned at some point, because the level editor has campaign dialogue in it, but no actual playable campaign. There’s some worldbuilding if you dig through the game’s codex, and each faction has twelve different named heroes (six unique ability trees each of which has two heroes associated with it), with a very fun and satisfying diversity in fantasy creatures between them. Like, the theme of the Arcane faction is being all wizardly and most of their heroes are humans, but that doesn’t stop them from having a lion person. A campaign that explored who all these characters are and their relationships with each other (even if those relationships are relatively simple and one note – he is a lion man with unyielding courage! She is a cunning sorceress queen! Together, they fight crime!) would be a lot of fun, although doing it for all twelve would certainly be a challenge.

You would want each scenario to introduce an average of probably about two new characters each. You’d have some scenarios that introduce four new heroes at once, introducing two new characters in the protagonist faction and two new characters in the antagonist faction, but you’d have others that introduce just one or even zero, so I think two is a safe average. With twelve heroes each across twelve factions (not counting the DLC faction), that’s about 72 scenarios. That’s over three times as many scenarios as HoMM II, over twice as many scenarios as StarCraft or Age of Empires (Age of Empires II is probably a better comparison for that general era, but the eight billion expansion campaigns that game has received in its 2010s revival era has made it annoying to look up which campaigns were original – most wikis and guides sort them by continent, the way the Definitive Edition of the game does). The game does have a level editor, and I’d considered trying to make some campaign scenarios myself, but unfortunately I find the controls for setting up things like “the first time the player enters this area, display this text” to be pretty difficult and clunky to work with. I may circle back and try it at some point, but I don’t have any immediate plans to do so now I’ve worked with the game’s tools.

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