Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy: review

It’s hard to accomplish anything in 30 seconds, whether you’re sending a text, making a sandwich, trying to think of an introductory sentence or most other things. Therefore, it might seem rather unreasonable to complete an RPG adventure with grinding, XP and fetch quests in a mere half minute. But that’s exactly what the innovative and challenging RPG Half-Minute Hero does. It has enjoyed life on PSP for a couple of years and Xbox Live since June 2011, but has the jump to PC made it any better?

Subtitled Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy for the PC, this edition of Half-Minute Hero is a slightly rejigged version of the Xbox Live release. As such it includes the updated anime graphics turned on by default as opposed to the original 8-bit visuals the PSP version released with. After a few minutes of playing, this is the first problem we had to remedy.

It’s very simple to switch between graphic styles, the option to do so being on the top level of the main menu. Why anyone would want to play this game with the anime turned on is beyond our comprehension. It completely destroys the charm of the otherwise classic RPG vibe the rest of the game fights so hard to build up. On top of this, it made the controls feel clunky due to the smooth curves and motions of the characters trying to navigate a grid-like game world that feels extra-natural in the 8-bit style.

There’s something very special about the game’s 8-bit graphics

Now we’ve stamped salt into that wound, we’re happy to patch it up again and kiss it better. With the 8-bit visuals thoroughly turned on it looks brilliant, like a retro classic that feels right being released this side of the millennium. The musical chirps, the simple animation, the way you need to squint to see if something is a sword or a bit of driftwood; it’s a nice reminder of a simpler, awesome time.

The game itself is divided into several different adventures, the main one being Hero 30 mode. In this mode you have 30 seconds to save the world on every level, as if you’re starting a new game from scratch each time. Think we’re being overdramatic? Each level is flanked on either end by the game’s title screen and end credits. After an initial brief from the cackling boss character, they will cast a spell that will end the world in 30 seconds. In this half minute you must explore towns and villages, battle monsters to level up, buy equipment, travel to the boss’ castle and then defeat him.

If that sounds like a tough mission to you, you’re not wrong. This game has a slight learning curve and, whilst it’s not the steepest, you’ll still find yourself replaying levels to try and find the right order to accomplish things. There’s a lot of trial and error involved in Hero 30 mode. Fortunately for us, the financially driven Time Goddess is available to reset time on each level for a small fee. The fee does grow with each use of her magic, so you need to be a bit tactical with its implementation, but nonetheless it’s very handy.

We just don’t get the very generic anime style…

It’s a fantastic bite-size RPG that genuinely does condense all of the action of what is usually a 30 hour epic into a fleeting 30 second adrenaline rush. It’s great for just picking up and playing, but might get a bit tiresome if you attempt a multi-hour marathon. The one downside to Hero 30 mode is sadly the entire point of the game. Barely anything is carried over between levels, meaning you need to grind each time to progress. Of course, grinding isn’t a hassle as the random enemies are fought off automatically in the game’s encounter mode, but it does take the usual RPG progression buzz out of the equation, with the only thing preserved between missions being equipment. However, despite this it is still a very fun experience.

Other modes include the Robotron-like side-scrolling shooter Princess 30 mode, and the Evil Lord 30 mode that takes the form of a simplistic minion summoning RTS game. They’re both amusing distractions you’re able to mix in between bouts of the main Hero 30 mode, despite not feeling quite as weighty in content. These and the other extra modes successfully mix up the rules to make them enjoyable and significantly different from the main adventure. There’s even a multiplayer mode that challenges you to race another player through a 30 second quest.

It’s all bound together with a really slick sense of humour that parodies traditional RPG elements. The Princess 30 mode features a lot of seemingly pointless item fetching which is given a brilliant edge by the text-based dialogue that accompanies each bizarre request. Likewise, the characters you meet in Hero 30 mode are fun to talk to and make you feel glad that the stingy timer gets paused in the single screen towns.

Oh no! A ferocious sea lion and penguin combo attack!

This isn’t really an RPG, and anyone going in expecting that will leave confused and disappointed. As mentioned above, it feels like a parody of the genre – but in a loving, playful way. It highlights the flaws that so many games carry and makes a point of turning it into a joke, whether it’s a duplicated character model or fetch quest object.

Each 30 second bout of Half Minute Hero is an adrenaline fuelled buzz. Right from the appearance of the first counter you’ll start to run around frantically, attempting to figure out just how the hell you’re supposed to complete a condensed RPG in half a minute. It’s a fun port of a unique game, but not the kind of thing that will be able to hold your attention for hours. It’s best played in short bursts as seriously committing long hours to it makes the concept feel tired and repetitive. It’s nice that the PC got an updated taste of this PSP gem, but it hasn’t left us hungry for more of the same.

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Written by Anthony H

Anthony has been playing games for far too much of his life, starting with the MS-DOS classic Mario is Missing. Since then his tastes have evolved to include just about anything, but his soft spot lies with shooters and the odd strategy game. Anthony will inspire you with his prose, uplift you with his wit and lie to you in his biography.

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