As years of comic books, video games and film have taught us, the Big Bad Evil Guy rarely, if ever, considers himself to be such. Pragmatic or misunderstood or simply superior perhaps, but almost never just flat-out evil and rotten. It’s a complex mix of differing perspectives and powerful self-delusion, but it’s also something every grand villain excels at.
Which brings us to our look at the second demo from Marvelous and XSEED’s upcoming time-challenged RPG, Half-Minute Hero. More specifically, a mode where instead of playing the typical spunky young kid with spiky hair out to save the world, you instead take on the role of the very force he’s out to stop – the Evil Lord.
What’s that? I… oh, I’m sorry. Correction – the “devastatingly beautiful” Evil Lord. Sorry about that, sir. I promise it won’t happen again.
Evil Lord mode follows the same “get it done in 30 seconds” formula as the previous demo, but with several twists. Rather than being a super-compact RPG experience, Evil Lord mode drops you into a simplified real-time strategy game. The demo only provided us with one level to take on, with the Evil Lord (and his lover-turned-bat-umbrella, Millenia. No, we’re not going to attempt to explain it.) looking to defeat an “evil” Chancellor in the remaining 30 seconds before the sun comes up.
Messing with the formula somewhat is the Time Goddess, who, in a fairly mercenary turn of business, has set up Goddess Shops around the levels where she will continually reset your 30 second timer in exchange for all of the gold you’re currently carrying. Gold is earned, obviously, by defeating enemies blocking your way to the Chancellor. You accomplish this by summoning monstrous minions to fight on your behalf – it would be ludicrous to assume that you would dirty your own perfectly manicured hands, after all.
Minions come in three varieties: ranged Shooters, swift and agile Nimbles and menacing Brutes, mapped to the Square, Triangle and Circle buttons respectively. The enemies you encounter will also fall into the same three groups, turning combat into essentially a battle of Rock, Paper, Scissors – Shooters beat Brutes, Brutes beat Nimbles, and Nimbles beat Shooters. Your Glorious Lordship is surrounded by a runic circle that measures mana level and grows smaller the more minions you summon. The more minions you bring into play the progressively weaker they get and the more mana you consume, so you can’t just spam the summon button. Your mana regenerates over time, however, so you need to keep a balance between having enough power to get through the next wave of enemies and not getting too far away from the golden barrels where the Time Goddess hides, should your timer be about to expire.
Adding to the mix are various additional minions you can add to your army, such as the Fabulous Foursome. Aedan, a fiery demon-like creature, represents them in the demo, functioning as a one-time nuke or smart bomb, allowing you to wipe out all nearby enemies with the right shoulder button.
It remains to be seen how much things will be varied in the final release of the game, due October 13th, but it’s neat to see that Half-Minute Hero at least won’t be forcing you down one single path; variations on the game’s basic premise should, at the very least, keep things interesting.