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Half-Minute Hero (PSP) artwork

Half-Minute Hero (PSP) review

"Half-Minute Hero is the perfect game for our fast-paced world of high-end releases that you canít afford to be distracted from for too long. Jasonís review of the game does a great job of covering the details of gameplay and the variety of modes available, so thereís little need to reiterate those facts here. I concur entirely with his sentiments on the game, but I have a few things to add to the discussio..."

Half-Minute Hero is the perfect game for our fast-paced world of high-end releases that you canít afford to be distracted from for too long. Jasonís review of the game does a great job of covering the details of gameplay and the variety of modes available, so thereís little need to reiterate those facts here. I concur entirely with his sentiments on the game, but I have a few things to add to the discussion of the main RPG mode.

Letís go over the basics, again, really quick. The goal is simple: save the world in thirty seconds. As a classic 8-bit hero youíll have to do all the usual old-school RPG tasks to accomplish this. Youíll need to level-grind against pixelated foes, buy better equipment from cardboard NPCs, go on complicated side quests, and keep yourself stocked up on healing herbs. Thankfully, our 8-bit hero knows how to economize his time. This is the only RPG where you can reach level 15 in twenty seconds; the only RPG where you can buy plate mail before the shop vendor has finished saying hello; the only RPG where a side-view pixelated battle of stats manages to be tense.

You know what? That stuff is actually fun when it doesnít take 80 hours.

Yet, for how fast the game is, it manages to have an incredible amount of depth to it and hereís where Iím going to raise Jason a point on his score. As with any RPG, the goal of an adventure in Half-Minute Hero is to beat the boss in his lair and return peace to the land. And, again as with a normal RPG, your ability to beat the final boss ultimately comes down to your equipment and your levels. But hereís why Half-Minute Hero gets a score boost from me... itís not actually an RPG. Thatís the big joke it has played on the gaming world. Itís actually a puzzle game.

Hereís a situation. Youíve just wandered into a forested country thatís been taken over by a sentient tree who has been the taught the 30-second death spell. Adventure start! At first it seems you only have one option open to you: run around this side of the map, fighting little enemies and slowly leveling, using what little gold you get to pay the Time Goddess to reset the clock until you are strong enough to charge the enemy fortress. But as you wander through the forests you come across a new puzzle. Lurking in the woods is a powerful mushroom monster that kicks your puny hero ass all the way back to town. There, you discover a wandering bard and his faithful (and powerful) dog companion. They offer to join you on your quest... for the hefty price of 300 gold. You glance at the clock. 10 seconds left and paying their price wouldnít leave you with enough to reset the clock. If you want their help, youíd better be prepared to run the whole way to the overlordís castle. Maybe it would be better to reset the clock and use the remaining cash to buy a new axe. But will you then be strong enough to conquer the beasts of the forest, or will you be caught in an ever dwindling cycle of leveling while the Time Goddessí price rises higher and higher? Youíve noticed that the forest creatures seem to be more plentiful at night. Maybe if you try a run in the morning you can get through without being attacked? And, ultimately, which of these options will let you beat the adventure in 35 seconds and thus get the highest hero ranking?

It all comes down to an incredible game of time management that was never expected out of a spoof title. The developers couldíve handed gamers a mediocre one-shot RPG which took no risks and wrapped itself in snarky dialogue to disguise the fact that there wasnít much of a game supporting it. Instead they handed them a new take on the genre that manages to do some memorable and innovative things... wrapped in snarky dialogue that points out how ridiculous the whole RPG genre is anyway. I mean, thereís a level where you take on CATS from ďAll Your BaseĒ infamy. Thatís made of pure snarky awesome.

The winning equation: thereís more packed into a half-minute of Half-Minute Hero than in hours of half of the RPGs out there.


zippdementia's avatar
Community review by zippdementia (February 17, 2010)

Zipp has spent most of his life standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox there. Sometimes he writes reviews and puts them in the mailbox.

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aschultz posted February 25, 2010:

My goodness...this is a cool game. It deserves a quick, snappy review. I'm not 100% sold on the whole dialog with the fellow reviewer, but given that it extols brevity in games, I think a review is best brief. I'm not sure how much reviews are ALLOWED to piggyback. I'd like to see interaction or respectful argument among reviewers, yet here this good effort feels forced. I can't make suggestions on that, sadly.

As for what I'd fix, I do think the action paragraph is a bit long, and I'd be more interested to hear if HMH actually takes a shot at being conventional, or if it's satirical all the way through. "Some memorable and innovative things?" I'm intrigued, beyond CATS.

Yet I feel that CATS doesn't necessarily show how ridiculous the whole RPG genre is--Zero Wing was, after all, a shooter. Isn't it more exact to say, with this sort of example, that there are reliably ludicrous cross-genre elements, and RPGs may focus on the worst of them, and do so to profit? I think that's a small problem with an entertaining tour de force review, when it sweeps me to a harsh conclusion that just doesn't seem justified on reflection. Clever zingers do not an argument make. Still, it was a lot of fun getting there.
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zippdementia posted February 25, 2010:

I think you're right, that last paragraph could use some expansion. It wouldn't be hard. There's a lot of material in the game to work with.

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