|System: Xbox 360|
|Dev: Marvelous Entertainment|
|Pub: Marvelous Entertainment|
|Release: June 29, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Mild Fantasy Violence|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
Half-Minute Hero was a charming little game for the PSP that condensed all the grinding and melodrama of the JRPG genre into short 30 second snippets of gameplay. Unfortunately, when it first came out, the PSP wasn't the most popular handheld console out there, and it was passed over by many JRPG fans that otherwise would have gotten a big kick out of it. Now the game has been remade into Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax, a downloadable game for the Xbox 360. Is Half-Minute Hero better and, more importantly, more accessible the second time around?
First off, let's talk about the original Half-Minute Hero for those who missed the bus. You take the role of the Hero, who has set out to put an end to the eternal battle between the Goddess of Time and the Ultimate Evil Overlord. Unfortunately, there are many lesser evil lords in the world, and all of them know a spell that will destroy the world in 30 seconds. It's up to you to thwart their evil plans before the world meets a melodramatic end.
The object of the game is to complete multiple JRPG plotlines in thirty seconds or less. As you wander around the world map, battles automatically take place, and at the end of every battle you gain experience and money. You level up furiously fast, easily jumping up two or three levels every time you complete a battle, and you become rich just as easily. Unfortunately, you also frequently find yourself spending this money as fast as you earned it.
Paying to pray at a goddess statue is the only way to get you more time. The price increases every time you pray, eventually becoming far too expensive for your income. If you somehow find yourself with some extra cash, however, you can stop at a town to buy some equipment, heal your wounds, or buy a single-use item.
Other than that, you basically do everything you would do in a JRPG, just at hyperspeed. You talk to villagers, solve puzzles, participate in sidequests, go down branching plot paths, and eventually face off against the final boss in a triumphant battle between good and evil, all within your 30 second time limit. Then you do it again, about 30 more times. This would get a little boring if it weren't for the game's absolutely hilarious story. Heck, at one point you actually save the world from becoming a Gameboy game.
Super Mega Neo Climax has all the original levels of Half-Minute Hero, only the graphics have been totally redone. While the original game was drawn in a retro 16-bit pixelated style, Super Mega Neo Climax comes with a "Neo Cartoon" mode that replaces every sprite and environment with beautiful hand-drawn cartoons. It's pretty to look at, but it misses the point a bit. The pixelated graphics were part of the parody, and eventually I simply switched the graphics back to classic mode for nostalgia purposes. It was then that I realized the game was actually easier to play in classic mode. Spaces that you can walk on are clearly outlined by the blocky pixelated graphics, whereas invisible walls and boundaries are kind of ambiguous in Neo Cartoon mode. And trust me, a single second spent walking into a wall could mean life or death in this game.
In the original Half-Minute Hero, you eventually gained access to extra game modes. Evil Lord 30 played like a 30-second RTS, while Princess 30 played like a 30-second shoot 'em up and Knight 30 played like a 30-second action game. In Super Mega Neo Climax, all these modes have been removed and replaced with singular levels that are rather similar to the main game.