Half-Minute Hero is a completely generic RPG. There are sidequests. There are hidden treasures. There is an evil Lord who plans to destroy the world. There is a Hero who has been chosen to stop him, no matter what. He’ll kill monsters for experience and gold. He’ll buy new equipment and complete special quests. And, if he’s good enough, he’ll defeat the evil Lord before it’s too late. Sounds familiar, right? Well get ready for a brain-busting twist on this done-to-death formula:
He only has 30 seconds to do it.
That’s right, 30 seconds to do what most RPGs take upwards of 40 to 50 hours to accomplish. While that might sound restricting, it makes perfect sense in its execution. There are various different Islands to choose as your gateway to adventure, each with different topographies, towns, quests, items and Lords. Only two are available in the demo, but I’ll be shocked if there aren’t a lot more in the finished product. This gives Half-Minute Hero a very arcade-like feel. You can pick up your PSP, tear through a level in less than a minute, and get your score at the end. Then you can play that level over and over again to try for a better one. It’s a speed runner’s dream come true.
Of course, the game is not limited to 30 second levels. For one thing, the timer stops when you enter a town. This means you don’t have to zip around when buying swords and healing (THANK you). However, while the Doomsday timer may stand still, the level timer is always moving, so dawdling in a town for too long will affect your overall score. In later levels (as evidenced by the big Island level in the demo) there are also Time Goddess statues in the villages and towns, which allow you to set the clock back to 30 seconds and give yourself more time to get that hidden suit of armor or kill that monster guarding your only path to the Lord’s castle. All for a fee of course.
Battles with monsters are automatic, so when you trigger a random encouter you get to sit back and watch. Once (read: if) you win, you rake in some XP and GP, then go spend your cash on a new sword or better armor. Of course, fighting takes time. So if you fight too many enemies you’ll find yourself at the Game Over screen just outside of the Lord’s castle. Even worse, you may find yourself only a few steps away from the Lord himself when time runs out. However, you won’t stand a chance against him until you’re strong enough. Thankfully, when you hit the right level you’ll see a special message for a moment on the screen. I’m making it one of my goals in life to get “You > Evil” on a T-Shirt.
I absolutely love what I’ve played so far. Half-Minute Hero is a brilliant idea with a seemingly flawless execution, but only time will tell if the full game is really worth playing. A game with 30 second (sometimes longer) levels, even fun and constantly re-playable ones, would be hard to stomach if there were only a small handful of them. Aside from that, I can’t think of any other way Half-Minute Hero could fail to meet expectations. So for those of you with a PSP and access to the PlayStation Network Store, I think you know the drill.