Shorter Length Is Better
I am a busy guy. As I get older, I find myself having more and more responsibilities. Because of this, most days simply do not have enough time in them. Being an Editor for a gaming website, it is also my job to spend hours playing games and forming an opinion about them. One genre that I enjoy is the RPG, but often cannot give these games the attention they deserve simply due to lack of time.
From the original NES Dragon Warrior to the more modern Final Fantasy XII, think of how much time is spent doing the most minimal of tasks in RPGs. Reading long lines of dialog, waiting for screens to load, level grinding to beat more powerful enemies, figuring out how to spend your hard earn money, repeating the same random battles over and over… the list goes on and on.
But what if you could trim away all this fat and be left nothing but the absolute heart of gameplay? Half Minute Hero provides the same experience of a 40-100 hour typical JRPG but within a 30 second time slot. This simple idea is brilliantly executed by Opus, the developers of this game, and really acts as the next evolutionary step in RPGs. In fact, I do not think I could ever go back to playing a typical RPG after playing Half Minute Hero. In short, this is how RPGs should have been all along.
How is one expected to learn the game’s story, level up a character, gather a few extra items and weaponry, and save the day by defeating the game’s boss in less than a half minute? The answer is simple: cut away all the unnecessary hogwash. Hero 30, the game’s first mode, does all this and more in one 30 second increment. By eliminating long winded dialog, load times, and turbo speeding random battles, Hero 30 provides everything you would expect from an RPG but does it in a fraction of the time.
You play as the typical blond haired hero who must stop a bad guy from destroying the world with his 30 second destruction spell. Once you are up to speed on the simple plotline, the Hero will venture out of the town and encounter some random battles. These battles transition instantly from the typical 2D overhead view to a side scrolling auto fighting battle. Instead of selecting your actions from a menu, the fights only take a second or two to complete as 2D sprites bounce into each other and hit point indicators flood the screen; its something you should really see a movie clip of. Although humorous, it definitely fills the void of grinding through an endless supply of random battles. Again, it trims away everything that prevents the game from moving quickly.
All in all, this Hero 30 mode is composed of about 30 mini-missions and when each one is completed, the game displays the end credits (which can be quickly skipped) as if you just beaten the entire game. It is a nice touch that really gives the game that old school vibe and pays homage to the 2D NES greats.
Hero 30 is your old school RPG style of gameplay, but Half Minute Hero also has several other styles of gameplay. EvilLord 30 is a hastened real time strategy game, Princess 30 is a side scrolling shooter similar to R-Type or Gradius, and Knight 30 is your babysitting quest as you have to protect an old mage. Each gameplay type has its own story line and mission structure but all modes in the game are linked together. And to prevent any spoilers, there just might be some extra content that becomes unlock later in the game.
Half Minute Hero never really takes itself too seriously and this is well demonstrated through the game’s graphical style. All in-game graphics are composed of 8-bit 2D blobs, but yet the box art and some in-game moments are composed of some highly stylized and well detailed anime art. Using these two drastically different art styles doesn’t make sense and really throws off the visual balance of the game, but it works perfectly for Half Minute Hero. The game is also filled with a simple 8-bit soundtrack that also works hand in hand with the game’s visuals.
With a perfect sense of humor, a new bold design, a vintage graphical style and gameplay perfectly suited for a portable system, Half Minute Hero is one game that cannot be missed by PSP owners or any fan of an RPG. To get the most out of this game, it is probably best to have some experience with classic RPGs, but any player can appreciate what Opus has done to the RPG genre. Half Minute Hero will make you look at RPGs in a whole new way and it makes you realize how much time you have wasted trudging through classic games in this genre. This game possesses a totally new way to play this time tested genre, making it impossible to not admire this new and welcomed changed. There is even a multiplayer mode if you can find other local PSP owners.
Only achieving meager sales, it angers me that this game has not received the recognition it deserves. If you own a PSP, you need to buy and play this game right now (available on UMD and digital download from the PSN). If you do not own a PSP, you should suggest buying one or borrowing one just to play this game. Half Minute Hero is that good and that important to the evolution of the RPG.
Not As Good As: making easy-to-reference “length” jokes
Better Than: any classic RPG
Also Try: drinking a gallon of Red Bull with a pot of coffe
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