Half Minute Hero first arrived in 2009, endearing itself to the portable market in Japan. The same sentiment was soon shared by North Americans and then Europeans almost a year later. Now three years later, it's been decided that the game will see a re-release, dubbed Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax - a rather ironic title for a game that's all about small packages.
As the main title of the game suggests, you play as a half minute hero. In other words, you have to save the world from destruction and you only have 30 seconds to do so. It's a rather neat concept and when you throw in RPG elements too, you start to realise that there's quite a bit of depth to be found - just not with the story.
Things start off with a pretty fast pace, as you'd expect. An evil overlord has decided that it's time for the end of the world, but the spell takes 30 seconds to cast. In said 30 seconds, you're able to stop him, making him rather unhappy. Therefore, he teaches the spell to many more evil people and you must hunt them down before they can fully cast the spell. Realising this is quite difficult to do in just 30 seconds, you get some help from the Time Goddess, but that's about as expansive as the story gets.
The game is split up into different levels, with each becoming tougher than the last. You're allowed to carry the spoils of previous missions forward, but every time you start a new level you get degraded down to level 1. It makes sense really, as it enables to the gameplay to combine RPG elements, but also strategy. Each level has a different problem - it's not just a case of levelling up and marching to the boss' castle. Instead, you will have to explore a little bit. Examples of problems might be figuring out how to fix a bridge or collecting items so a villager will disclose a secret passage. They are often quite simple, but they make each level feel unique. Of course, there are numerous ways to complete each level, and you will be rewarded based on this.
One of the important gameplay mechanics, is that despite you only having 30 seconds to save the world, it's often quite a lot longer than 30 seconds. Thanks to the Time Goddess, you're able to reset the clock back to 30 seconds, for a free of course. But you she will also freeze time when you're inside a village collecting information, rations or equipment.
Depending on your performance, you'll get different items as you move forward. These will affect some basic stats and can be equipped in four different areas. However, to keep things on a level playing field - to some degree - you can't use anything you've earned to make your life easier in previous levels. The only way you can do this, is to perform better in the levels before, which will in theory make your overall haul much better.
One of the main differences between Half Minute Hero and Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy comes with the graphics. When the game was release on Xbox Live Arcade last year, Marvelous Entertainment decided to give the graphics a rather different twist - enhancing them to look more like an anime. You can still use the original graphics though, which is good for fans of the 8-bit style.
This version of the game also has some additional modes beyond just Hero 30 Mode, the main mode of the game. There's also Evil Lord 30 Mode, Princess 30 Mode, Knight 30 Mode, Hero 300 Mode and Hero 3 Mode. It means that once you've finished one, there's plenty to keep you going - each mode also has different gameplay styles to mix tings up.
Hero 300 Mode and Hero 3 Mode make things even more difficult though, as they offer different time restrictions. In Hero 300 Mode, you are unable to reset time and every 60 seconds, area of the map become inaccessible. In Hero 3 Mode, you're able to reset time, but you only have 3 seconds.
Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy is a pretty decent re-release offering some fun, new modes, but also adding a neat graphical style as an alternative to the 8-bit original. The concept is still as fresh as it was back in 2009 too, so if you didn't pick it up on the PlayStation Portable or Xbox Live Arcade, maybe the PC version will appeal.
|» Unique concept, well fulfilled.|
|» Good music choices.|
|» Translates well to the PC.|
|» Additional modes aren't quite as good as the original.|
|» Some levels don't quite hit the spot.|