Half-Minute Hero Review

By Jason D'Aprile - Posted Oct 28, 2009

Fans of classic role-playing will be glued to their PSPs with this quirky gem. The blend of old-school graphics and gameplay with irreverent humor and time constraints provides gamers with an original portable adventure. There are four styles of gameplay as well, and enough variety and missions to attract hardcore and casual players.

The Pros
  • Fun and funny
  • Quick pace
  • Engaging game modes
The Cons
  • Grows repetitive
  • Though deliberate, graphics are incredibly primitive
  • Other game modes aren't as inspired as the main Hero 30 mode

If at any point in your life as a gamer you loved classic console RPGs (if even a little too much), then Xseed's Half-Minute Hero is a must buy. A refreshing and hilariously irreverent take on the genre, the game includes enough clever gameplay, humor, and variety to make it a perfect portable experience.

Half-Minute Hero

Old School Craziness

Half-Minute Hero deliberately sidesteps the PSP’s high-powered visual capabilities to use what looks like an NES/SNES-era RPG engine to drive its zany action. The story revolves around the battle between the Time Goddess and the Evil Lord. Thought to have been banished many years ago, the Evil Lord is back and surprise, surprise he’s spreading evil across the land. There are four types of gameplay, though the Hero 30 mode is the most memorable.

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Hero of the Half-Minute

In Hero 30, you are the stereotypical hero of the land who must wipe out an Evil Lord on each map before said diabolical entity can complete each world’s destruction.  The twist is that you must do it in 30 seconds. The mode is completely tongue-in-cheek. For example, the Time Goddess is a greedy and narcissistic sidekick from whom you buy 30-second time blocks. The frantic pace makes what would have been a cliched, lackluster adventure feel fresh and fun. It's also helpful that time stops when you visit towns, where you can talk to people, get side quests, buy herbs, food, and new items.

Combat is almost completely automatic, but frequent random encounters let you level-up. The game tells you when you level-up higher than the Evil Lord, and then it's simply a matter of plowing over the poor bugger. The Evil Lords often have hilarious reasons for world destruction -- one is a giant crab who believes he'll be able to walk forward if he destroys the world. Levels take only a few minutes to get through but are challenging enough to retain your interest. 

Half-Minute Hero

Faster than a New York Minute

The other three game styles are amusing as well. The Princess storyline is basically a shooter, in which the levels scroll and you use the face buttons to shoot arrows in all directions while trying to keep your troops alive and healthy. The Evil Lord mode is especially funny, as it applies simplified real-time strategy and monster-summoning gameplay to Half-Minute Hero’s mini-format. It features a highly vain character who is more concerned with his hair than with fighting. The Knight mode is an action-focused dungeon escort mission. While the action can get repetitive after a while, you can easily switch between story modes or try a multiplayer variation of the hero mode with other nearby players. In total, the game takes roughly 10-15 hours to complete. 

The primitive visual style might be a turn-off to some players, and there are some occasional minor flaws, but there’s no denying that through its design approach, Half-Minute Hero is an ideal portable game. It's funny and engaging, with many fast-paced levels and gameplay that’s pretty accessible for nearly anyone. If you have 30 seconds, you too can save the world.