Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax – Review

Xbox Live Arcade Title
Price: 800MSP
Singleplayer: Yes
Multiplayer: Yes

(Title provided free of charge by the publishers for review)

Behind Half Minute Hero is a rather interesting, and unique, idea. The idea that an RPG takes far too long to bear any real fruit, that RPGs consume waaaaaaay too much of your time to play. And so, Half Minute Hero lets you play through an entire RPG in just thirty seconds. That includes fighting monsters, levelling up, claiming loot and chatting to villagers!

The story goes that some insane, evil bad-guy is running around the world teaching other insane, evil bad-guys a spell which can destroy the entire world in just thirty seconds, and it’s up to you to stop them. You’re not on your own though as you’ll have the Time Goddess on your side as well who can help you out by pausing time when you’re in towns and resetting the clock at the cost of some of your gold. The game never takes itself to seriously, and really it couldn’t be serious anyway as you run saving the world from giant crabs, evil knights and other ludicrous baddies. Theres a fantastic humour that is present throughout the entire game, whether it’s the barmy dialogue or the wacky character designs you’ll always be smiling throughout. Even the speed at which your character charges around the world brings a smile to your face. This is not award-winning script writing by any means, but it’s just zany enough to work.

While Half Minute Hero does claim to be an RPG it also has close connections to a puzzle game as levels are more about planning out the fastest, most efficient route to the end. Sometimes this is simple and other times it’s a struggle to make it through, but thanks to your personal Time Goddess you can rewind time at a bargain price. The drawback to this beautiful piece of time manipulation is that it costs you more each time you use it during a level, and to get more cash you’re going to have to fight some enemies. Unlike other RPGs you won’t need to get your hands dirty when it comes to fighting as Half Minute Hero does it automatically. Simply venture around the world to kickstart random battles where you’re charming hero will run headlong into the enemy until either you or the enemy is dead. Simples. This lack of any real player input can be a little odd and won’t be to everyone’s taste. Levelling up your character is also automatically handled. As you gain XP the game will helpfully tell you that you’ve gone up several levels from a single battle, but don’t expect to be choosing skills or boosting stats here as the game just makes your character stronger and tougher without ever taking you out of the action (after all, you’ve only got thirty seconds). Again, this lack of player interaction can be a little off-putting, but in the context of the game these automatic actions make sense. Inbetween all this you can stop by villages to gather equipment and chat to villagers in the hope of discovering some weapon that can help you slay the evil lord, or a helpful ally. Side-quests are pretty thin on the ground here, but most levels do usually have a little something extra that can really be worth your time as well as other routes or items to gain. This, along with the quick nature of each level, does imbue the game with some good replayability. Completion times for each level will also be posted to leaderboards.

The biggest criticism that I can level at the gameplay comes from the fact that Super Mega Neo Climax is a port of the original PSP game. The quick gameplay coupled with many of the actions being automatically done suit mobile gaming very well, but as a full retail title it can feel like you’re not really doing very much when playing the game and the whole thing does become quite repetitive.

The second criticism is, surprisingly, some clunky controls. Getting around the world can be tough as your Hero won’t always react to you changing direction, or he’ll get stuck on a piece of scenerey while the clock ticks down. While this awkwardness is managable, in a game where every second counts it can lead to some utterly irritating moments. I often found myself cursing the game as my last few remaining seconds drained away while my Hero was failing to go where I was directing him to.

The multiplayer mode throws in some interesting ideas, and it certainly provides something different. In multiplayer you’ll have to complete a level while other players are also running around. Whoever completes it first will win, but using the Time Goddess to reset the clock effects everyone and winning will usually require you to do so at some point making it a delicate balancing act. It’s fun and frantic to play, and actually requires some thought to come out on top.

A new graphical style has also been implemented, but never fear because the original pixellated style still remains and can be accessed by an option in the menus. It’s a good thing they’ve added that option as the new style is certainly going to divide players opinions. The hand drawn style has a unique flair and the choices of color are relaxing rather than vibrant, but on a personal level it just didn’t click with me.

Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax doesn’t suit consoles as well as it suited PSP. It’s bite-size nature and thirty-second levels make it perfect to pick up and play. Literally. But it’s still fun, fast, frantic and funny.

The Good:
+ An entire RPG compressed into thirty seconds!
+ Narrowly defeating the boss as the clock ticks away the last second!
+ The bonkers script.

The Bad:
– Automatic battles and levelling up leave me feeling like I have nothing to do.
– The loss of the different modes that the original PSP version had.
– The art style.

The Scores:

Graphics: 7
The art style is unique, but personally it didn’t do it for me.

Sound: 7
The music is nothing spectacular, nor are the other sound effects.

Story: 8
It’s not complicated, but it does have memorable characters and plenty of moment that’ll mae you smile.

Gameplay: 8
A very interesting concept, but does feel more suited for handheld gaming rather than console gaming.

Lifespan: 8
Plenty of stages to complete plus a fun multiplayer mode. This should last you a while.

Overall: 8
Summary: an entire RPG packaged into thirty seconds is a damn fine idea, but with many of the mechanics done automatically I found myself  gett tired of it. That said, the characters and weirdness of it all kept me playing for many, many hours.

Categories: Reviews

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