Available on: Xbox 360; Publisher: Marvelous Entertainment; Developer: Marvelous Entertainment; Players: 1 – 4; Released: June 29, 2011; ESRB: Everyone; Official Site
It’s always amazed me how people with full commitments, such as a job, girlfriend(s), and school, can still manage to power through a 50-something hour RPG. That is probably one of the reasons that casual games have begun to rise. These short bursts of gameplay allow people to have fun without really having to commit a large portion of their time to gaming. Originally released on the PSP, Half-Minute Hero and Xbox Live Arcade brethren, Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax, offer all the nostalgia and elements of a 90s RPG along with the short bursts of gameplay casual gamers love.
With every stage, players have half a minute to defeat an antagonist casting an apocalyptic spell. Sounds like a difficult task, but all the basic tools that players need in an RPG can be found in just that time. Leveling, gold farming, and battles take place in a matter of seconds. Essentially, players don’t need to worry about all the tedious, time-consuming aspects of an RPG and can just run through each stage. There are no options for spells or different abilities. Heroes just equip whatever equipment they need at the beginning of a stage and charge right through whatever opposition they see. Instead of an RPG game, Half-Minute Hero more closely resembles an action game. In that respect, it works out fantastically.
Any concerns that the game may be shallow are quickly answered with the open-ended nature of the game. In any one level, there can be a myriad of things for the player to accomplish. Aside from defeating an evil lord, heroes may also want to save a village from becoming the next Pompeii. Or not. Whatever choice they make, heroes will be able to move on, but NPCs throughout the world are loaded with loot and ready to dish out some just deserts. It never becomes a repetitive quest of grinding and revisiting older locales like in most RPGs though – each time players want to replay a stage, their levels and equipment are reset to match what they had at the time they first reached the stage.
The art style may not appeal to all, but both the new cartoony and PSP version’s pixilated styles are present. Either way, they both match the game’s quirky story and writing, which is never afraid to pull any punches about the convenience and ridiculous nature of RPG stories and conventions. Why would a goddess need money to restore the mere half minute players have? Don’t worry about it! Just run with it. With the new cartoony graphics, however, characters actually have expressions, which definitely enhance their lines throughout. Nothing beats the evil smirk on the goddess as she asks for all your equipment and money in exchange for turning back time.
Half-Minute Hero may not be the RPG that purists would like to embrace, but it is an interesting take on the genre. After all, it’s hard to deny that RPGs are time consuming and many people simply don’t have the time to sit through one. The simplistic, yet replay value-filled, nature of the gameplay is complimented well by the satirical writing and is sure to give open minded RPG fans both a good laugh and interesting new experience.