So, we all survived the Mayan Apocalypse. Hooray! But the big countdown to the end of the world got me thinking; What if we didn’t have so much time to prepare for the apocalypse? What if we only had 30 seconds to see it coming? Well, at times like these we need a hero…a Half-Minute Hero!
An RPG with ADD, Half-Minute Hero is not so much an 8-bit role playing game as it is a parody of them. This title packs everything that makes the genre fun into your PSP or PS Vita, but streamlines it to absolutely the most essential features – plus a little self-aware humor.
Long story short, there’s a bad guy teaching any villain with enough MP a spell that can destroy the world. But since the spell takes 30 seconds to cast, our silent protagonist has just enough time to run around a map, level up, solve villagers’ problems and ultimately crush the villain in the nick of time. Though, you do get to cheat a little. The Goddess of Time is on your side, and since time is money, she’ll take payment at any of her shrines to reset your 30-second timer. Each time you do so, however, the price goes up, so you still have to haul butt to beat the stage before the world goes boom.
What makes this game a real surprise is how deep it is despite the minimalism. Over the course of many levels, you will develop relationships with recurring characters (and even some recurring villains), make important choices that dramatically affect your progress , and collect gear with unique stats and abilities. This gear can be strategically equipped before each stage to find the most efficient way through, or even to unlock alternate ways of completing them.
Every random monster encounter literally takes seconds. You see your character run into the beast, damage numbers flying into the air, and then you slam into them again until one of you is dead. You can even speed up the process more by holding the Dash button, but this drains your HP fast. This makes even grinding levels exciting as you have to manage you HP and time carefully lest you die or be unable to get back to town in time. You also have to strategize where to grind as you want to find the biggest baddies you can handle at your level.
But what is really crazy is the way HMH makes you think. After playing for a week, my mind was working in hyperdrive. So much so, at one point I thought I was running out of time and doomed to lose, but then looked up at the timer and said to myself with a mental sigh of relief, “Oh! I still have three seconds left? That’s plenty of time! I can probably fit in one more monster before returning to town.”
In keeping with the retro RPG theme, the graphics are charmingly old-school and the music is a mix of nostalgic NES-style chiptunes and gallop metal ballads that makes this one of my all-time favorite soundtracks.
The multitude of achievements, equipment and secrets to uncover will make you want to play every stage over and over. Not to mention there’s also three other game modes: a shooter, a real time strategy, and an action game, all with 30-second limits. Though they aren’t as epic as the main mode, they all contribute to the game’s overall storyline and experience, culminating in an amazing finale I dare not spoil here.
Give it a chance, if you have a second to spare.