A title such as that will have a select few people, mainly the PSP owners of this world, thinking “at last! It has arrived, what a game!” Whereas the vast majority of folk are probably thinking, “errr … wtf!?”
Originally on the PSP and titled Half Minute Hero, this latest mouthful arrives with availability to the masses as a download on Steam, the XBLA (Xbox Live Arcade) and the PSN (PlayStation Network).
So what is it? Loosely, you can call it an RPG. A very fast paced RPG that houses the usal traits you expect to find in said genre, without everything long winded that you would definitely find in the genre. The aim is to save the world in 30 seconds, every time a new boss decides that they are suitably annoyed with their existence. You read that correctly, an underlying theme to this title, humorously brought to light every now and then, is that the people intent on world destruction don’t seem to realise that they too will be destroyed. Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy has an instant charm that will have you warming to it, but the main question is how long will this relationship last? After all, you have 30 seconds to save the world, your time together could be just as short if you don’t get on, hopefully it won’t end so badly that you delete each other from Facebook … the horror!
So the main quest is known as Hero 30 and it is up to you to track down the Ultimate Evil Lord who keeps teaching monsters, trees, rocks, crabs that hate not being able to walk forward, snake charmers who are feel that too many people dislike snakes thus no one should be able to see them … and other evil types how to cast this spell that takes 30 seconds to complete. It is in these 30 seconds that you, the hero, must defeat whichever fiend is casting the spell. Jumping ahead slightly, after you have completed the hero’s quest which is the main bulk of this title, you can then undergo adventures with some of the other key characters within the game, these being a princess, an Evil Lord who is in love with his own looks, and a Knight.
The entire adventure spans over 500 years and feels like a fast paced homage to The Legend of Zelda series. Once you know who your enemy is, your task is to get strong enough to defeat them. Sometimes this means you must help a villager find something like a hammer so that they can re build the only bridge leading to your target’s castle. Other times this means you must earn enough money to enlist the help of someone else to get past an especially tricky brute.
As soon as your 30 seconds begin you are placed in an overworld view that can be likened to Pokémon and as you run around looking to stop off at castles and villages you usually find yourself hindered by creatures that need defeating. Again, just like when you are hunting Pokémon to catch or shamelessly leave unconscious in the brush, a battle can be found just while you are zipping around in the overworld area.
30 seconds isn’t a large amount of time to save the world which is where the Goddess of Time comes in (you didn’t believe me when I said The Legend of Zelda, did you?). She informs you that for a price, you can pray at any statues of her you may find in the villages dotted around the level. Basically for what starts off as a small fee and a good pray she will reverse time and restore the 30 seconds. This doesn’t mean you can saunter around though. After every battle you receive coins but whenever you reset the clock, the price tag increases by 100 coins the next time. This is where levelling comes into it. As you fight you gain XP and fly through the levels. Increasing your level will increase your strength and health points. Doing this is not only inevitable, but means you can take on more battles per 30 seconds. Eventually you may find that you have enough money to spend on a pricey reversal of time as well as a rather handy new sword, shield, or suit of armour depending on what is for sale at the villages.
Some great gear will find its way into your collection from simply completing a level. Whoever the main victim is from each area will always reward you something for helping them out. After that you will witness a set of end credits. Yep, each level is treated like the final scene of a movie which is amusing for a while but becomes a pain at the end of level 2. Ok, I exaggerate, its level 3, but thank the Goddess there is a fast forward button to get you through!
All of the items you pick up or receive add to your character in the same way as any other RPG. This is handy because at the end of every boss, and the start of a new day if you will, your level resets to 1. Having some chunky armour and a beastly sword in your arsenal is great when you are a lowly level 1.
Hopefully you will feel like you understand the task at hand now. If you don’t then don’t worry because it is ultimately very simple to get the hang of. There are some levels with extra bits and pieces to find that may have you completely forgetting that there is a nasty cooped up in a castle trying to end you.
Combat is really straight forward. You enter the battle, then both you and the enemy run at each other head first. Once you make contact you both fight until one of you falters and as you get stronger certain enemies might as well not exist as they pose no more threat to you than anything would to The Hulk. As mentioned earlier there are other quests to undergo and it has to be said that the battle novelty starts to lose its brilliance.
Essentially as the Hero you feel fully involved and when you gain a number of allies to rush in with you, the reason for the Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate title becomes apparent. However, when you are the Evil Lord you feel incredibly detached from everything. You enter the battle and sit back whilst the Evil Lord sends out a string of monsters to do what they do. Coupled with this the latter quests are considerably shorter than the Hero quest.
Luckily you can taste a different style of combat if you switch the graphics from the modern take on an 8 bit classic, to the full on retro of an old 8 bit classic. Sure everything looks like a bunch of squares thrown together and the faces are hard to make out but that will give gamers a pleasant moment of nostalgia.
In this retro style, the Evil Lord has 3 different monsters that you deploy as you see fit. Equally the combat changes from the charge at each other method and is more like a free roam arena. Well free roam as much as the confines and 30 seconds will allow.
This ultimately brings me to the verdict. The title alone is worth a point but perhaps it should remove 2 words to become Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Ultimate Boy in order to match the rating to the game.
As a game for a hand held console then it is absolutely fantastic. The short burst game play and the self aware humour work really well if you don’t have a long time to play or have a console nearby. When this translates to a console then it works, but it isn’t the sort of game you should plough through in 6 – 7 hours because it may just lose the initial charm you warmed to when you first met.
The longevity of this title is all down to you. With the leader boards that go hand in hand with most games found outside of the hand held genre, you can strive to make sure that you are the number one amongst friends. If that doesn’t blow your skirt up then you can delve into each level to make sure you get everything out of it by finding hidden weapons and enemies to collect or defeat. Other than that the replay value isn’t great.
A playthrough will have you laughing and you won’t regret playing it at all, but it isn’t something to break the bank over. Besides, you will have the Goddess of Time trying to do that for you in-game … Women!