I've been spending a lot of the last year doing mobile gaming rather than sitting down at my console.

Most of the games I play are boardgames, but there are the occasional mobile "video" game that I have enjoyed. These are games that have really made me glad that I have an iPad.

One of those games that I got addicted to at the end of last year was a cute little gem called Hero Emblems

(see what I did there?)

Feel the glow of righteous goblin killing!!!!

Hero Emblems is one of those RPG games that uses the Match 3 mechanism that we're all familiar with. You match three or more of the same type of icon and you get stuff or have stuff happen to you. When you get RPG elements involved, you either heal, get defense, or do some major damage to those dastardly creatures facing you!

If, of course, they aren't immune to the power you're using. Because that sucks.

The creatures will attack you too, of course. Each one has a counter for how many times you will get to act before it attacks you. Some just hack you to death, but others will fire off "debuffs" at you. Maybe they'll turn your heart icons to stone (like when your girlfriend leaves you). Or maybe they'll set a bunch of your icons on fire, which will damage you each turn. Or chain them up! The possibilities are endless.

As you can see, the animation is done in a cute JRPG style. The story is rather silly, but it's just the skeleton that you drape the RPG and Match 3 elements across, so that's not a terrible thing.

Other than the rather atrocious dialogue, of course.

That you can't skip (though at least you can keep tapping the screen to get through it rather than waiting for it all to type out).

Basically, you have a group of four adventurers (your basic fighter, cleric, defender and wizard, but sadly no rogue) who have various skills. You can upgrade how much damage they do (or how much they heal or add to your shields) by finding emblems and equipping them to the character. They can also learn new skills which will affect what type of damage they do, or what special effects the healer will have. These skills will go into effect when you match 4 of the same icon and create an enhanced icon. Match that icon and you do the special ability.

If you manage to match 5 of the same icon, you have a super icon! Perhaps you have the skill equipped for Howard (the fighter) that will have a meteor blast down on your enemies if you match the super-icon with the sword icon.

Each encounter, you will face 1-4 monsters, some of which will have resistances to certain things. Perhaps your fire spell will do no damage. Time to change things up! As you wander the world, random encounters will happen, which can get annoying once you are powerful enough. You'll be slapping them away with no trouble but a lot of irritation. When you get to quest locations, you will have a series of encounters until you get to the big boss fight. If you die at any point in these encounters, you will have to start the entire area over. Random encounters have no penalty for dying in them, thankfully, other than not keeping any money or loot you obtained if you're not playing the casual version of the game.

The cleric has a cross on her hat. Isn't that cute?

The grinding for loot and skills, money to be able to buy more equipment and stuff like that, can start to get on your nerves, but the basic gameplay is actually quite addicting if you like Match 3 games. You have to figure out by trial and error what works best on each boss monster. If you have nothing but flame skills/spells equipped and he's immune to fire, you're going to die pretty quickly.

Go to the skill screen, reset what skills you want (maybe freezing? Lightning? Poison gas?) and head back into the danger!

Depending on your skill level, you can easily get 20-30 hours of enjoyment out of the game (and about an hour's time laughing at the terrible dialogue). Sure, the grinding gets to be a bit much, but it's manageable.

And if you've played JRPGs for any length of time, grinding is second nature to you!

I highly recommend this game unless you just hate any kind of Match 3 mechanisms. If you do, you will probably hate this game.