Sure, the name sounds funny: Half-Minute Hero Super Mega Neo Climax, but reviewing this title was no laughing matter. Or, at least, it didn’t start out that way. Some games we review are ones we ask for, some are games we’ve bought ourselves, and some are handed to us to do. Often times the ones handed to us are shovelware, or worse. For the first 20 minutes of Half-Minute Hero, I was none too pleased for being in the latter category. See, the one game mechanic I hate is timed sequences. It’s not that I mind pressure, and I’m not horrid at most games regardless of the timers. I just don’t like them. It gives you a false sense of urgency and creates stress and anxiety. Truth be told, I had posted a message in our staff forum titled “Is it wrong to hate Ron?” – dealing specifically with this review. The reason? The entire game mechanic here IS the stopwatch, and the thought of that makes my teeth itch.
I like to think I can find the fun in games, and while there are exceptions to the rule, I rarely hate something outright. I can recall a moment when I looked at my 20 minutes of play and said to myself: “I guess you’re going to get to rip this one apart then, aren’t you?”. I even switched games to try and enjoy some gaming time, but in the back of my head was a reminder that I’d have to go back to Half-Minute Hero.
Did I just say explore, and 30 seconds? It doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but you can pray to the Goddess of Time for a reset of the timer at the statues in certain towns. If you don’t have enough money to pay her increasing prices, you can give up your equipped items and any remaining gold to get that extension. There is more to the stopwatch than just the time restriction, but more on that later.
I should mention that you automatically fight with almost no control of the outcome- your character automatically approaches the enemy and combat simply happens.
The misery I began with somehow fell away as I realized that I wasn’t just playing an RPG – no, Half-Minute Hero Super Mega Neo Climax is a strategic puzzle game through and through. From secret level achievements, multiple paths and challenges for each level, it really grew on me. How is an RPG with automatic fighting considered strategic, you might ask? Most of the time you’ll need to plan when to use dash to speed through and sacrifice some health. Then, there is the time of day factor. When you pray, not only are the seconds on the clock rolled back, but so is the time of day (at 15 seconds you’re into the early afternoon) and it reverses any of the events that happened over the course of the day. Some examples include needing to wait for miners to return to their homes in the evening, allowing a forest fire to ravage a forest which reveals an alternate path, or even needing to wait for the tide to go out to be able to walk along certain water-bound paths.
As for the value, the game does have cooperative modes, although I wasn’t able to find any players to connect with at the time of this review, I have been able to compete with friends’ completion times. Much like having a ghost car in a racing game, Half-Minute Hero even lets you see your friends’ position on-screen during your own attempts to best their time. There are also more than just the 30 second modes, but they aren’t available until after you complete the 30 second hero mode.
It’s not all roses – timed gaming dependent on directional controls, something the 360 controller can only do with a spongy response, is a recipe for headaches. When you’ve .6 seconds left and just can’t seem to move left to the town, you will know this frustration. Also, unless you’re crazy for 8-bit graphics, the added mode that emulates the original isn’t really pretty enough to want to look at for very long – it’s a good thing they decided to up the ante when it came to graphics.
There is a trial version available, but at 800 MS points it’s a pretty easy recommendation to make. From the games’ self-awareness, to the shots at RPG plot holes, it is well worth the ride, and let me assure you that there is more than just 30 seconds of gameplay. While I’ve yet to complete every mission, I can see myself enjoying this game a little at a time as a way to cleanse my gaming palette. Half-Minute Hero is a fun and quirky gem that is worth a second look.