Half-Minute Hero Review
Ever want to get the whole RPG experience like leveling up, story, and characters with meaning, but just don't have the time to do it? Marvelous Entertainment has the answer for your ADD-RPG needs in the form of the super-fast Half-Minute Hero.
Dirty jokes aside, Half-Minute Hero is actually a few different RPG game-types merged into one. Each mode is significantly different from the others, and you start the game with 3 modes unlocked.
The first mode is 'Hero 30' in which you take the role of a traditional RPG hero. In Hero 30, you face off with a multitude of 'Evil Lords', all of which know the secret spell to cast which will destroy the world in 30 seconds, hence the title of both the game and the game mode.
This leaves you tasked with defeating enemies, levelling up, traversing the map and battling the Evil Lord in a mere 30 seconds. Along the way you'll run into the Goddess of Time who can turn back the clock at the cost of gold.
Battles pass quickly - as random encounters happen your character will automatically run forward and ram enemies to death. You don't have to do anything to battle, but you'll have to watch your health bar to ensure you don't die in these fully automatic random encounters.
Healing is handled by entering towns - where time freezes - and purchasing items which can then be used to restore your health. There's only one inventory slot for such items, though.
The second mode of the game is titled 'Dark Lord 30' and places you in the shoes of a Dark Lord who is using monsters to defeat waves of humans before sunrise. This mode essentially adds a dash of RTS trappings to the fast formula, as you can't directly attack the humans yourself, instead summoning monsters to do the fighting for you.
Each monster comes in a variety of types, both with its strengths and weaknesses against other humans in a traditional rock-paper-scissors setup. Your mana bar can summon better creatures the higher it gets and each type will grow stronger as the game progresses.
The third mode completes the RPG trifecta, having you play as a Princess. Titled Princess 30, you're this time trying to save your father from a magical illness, attacking enemies with a crossbow. Attacking is handled via the face buttons and power ups will effect your movement speed and attack strength.
The half-minute is important here, as you've 30 seconds to complete your objective and return to the castle - the princess has a strict 30 second curfew. The Goddess of Time can again extend the amount of time you have - and the gameplay is as frantic here as it is in the other modes.
There's other unlockable modes, but everything that's fantastic about Half-Minute Hero can be summed up in the three modes that are unlocked the first time you slot the game into your PSP - pitting you against the clock, performing traditional RPG tasks with traditional RPG aesthetics in a super-fast way which is most reminiscent of Nintendo's Wario Ware.
It's rarely simply a matter of running from one side of the map to the other, and the way you make your way to the Dark Lord to battle them in Hero 30 will differ greatly, with branching paths even present in some places. Will you grind and head through a path filled with powerful enemies or head around the long way? Whatever you do, there's only 30 seconds to decide - and that is the beauty of Half-Minute Hero!
With multiple quests on multiple game modes, Half-Minute Hero will last any player a significant amount of time despite its emphasis on completing each stage as fast as possible - and the later stages of each mode become fiendishly challenging and in places puzzling as you frantically figure out how to solve a simple puzzle before the time runs out.
Everthing about the game feels like a traditional RPG sped up - including 8-bit graphics, a soundtrack from a Japanese band and a quirky sense of humour based on many of the classic RPG tropes of the SNES era.
This humour can sometimes feel a little bit forced with characters giving rather silly explanations of why you only have 30 seconds to complete an objective, and the game overall has some issues with being repetitive, and a feeling that sometimes the speedy events are slightly out of your control.
Like any game with strict time limits, Half-Minute Hero can sometimes become so frustrating as to make you want to destroy your PSP in anger, but this is a small blemish on anotherwise wonderful game - and similar things can be said for almost every one of the small flaws Half-Minute Hero has. They're all forgivable.
If you have the time and patience to go through and collect rare gear and such, you'll be able to breeze through the rest of the game with relative ease, and with respect to that is is incredibly true to it's original RPG roots.
While it isn't perfect, it's fair to say that any fan of old-school RPGs owes it to themselves to give Half-Minute Hero a go. It's a loving homage to those 90s classics and everyone who loved and grew up with them.