Half Minute Hero

I can’t stand RPGs. It doesn’t make me the most popular person in online conversations, but something about the sprawling overworlds, painfully dull lore and the incessant grinding just sends me to snoozeville. Simply mention the words Final and Fantasy, and I’m like a narcoleptic on Nytol.

Hooray for Half Minute Hero then, a quirky slice of Japanese satire that bundles everything we associate with role playing games – blonde haired heroes, ancient goddesses, number-crunching tussles and armfuls of gold – and squeezes them into 30 second epics.

While most clichéd malevolent overlords will give the heroes 70 odd hours to save the world, plus time to faff about racing Chocobos and building a perfect Gummi Ship, the sensibly named Evil Lord of Half Minute Hero wastes no time in destroying the planet, casting a spell that ends civilisation in just 30 thousand milliseconds.

This leaves you dashing about the minuscule overworld, downing enemies in three second automated battles and cruising from town to town, finding this and collecting that as the giant on-screen clock counts down to your inevitable doom. It might sound like the sort of experience that would bring on migraines and panic-attacks from stage to stage, but there are a few concessions – you can rewind time, but it’ll cost ya (hey, benevolent time goddesses need cash too), and time grinds to a halt in villages.

What’s left is a frantic, absorbing and addictive little game that’s more about memorisation and quick reflexes than slow battles and reams of text. It has more in common with something like Crazy Taxi than Dragon Quest, rewarding players for judicious use of time, quick thinking and, in the later stages, a sadomasochistic obsession with retrying until you get it right.

If you get sick of mini RPGs on fast forward, there are a couple of other modes to keep you occupied – although each is a heavily simplified parody of its genre, and shares the 30 billion nanosecond time limit. There’s a rock-paper-scissors-esque real time strategy game with the Evil Lord, a shoot ’em up with the Princess and a escort adventure with the Knight.

It’s all presented with a retro graphic style, a shredding guitar soundtrack and its tongue planted firmly in its cheek. It still has the lengthy text boxes of a typical RPG, but the dialogue is full of wicked sarcasm, self-mocking humour and RPG satire. To top it all off, every 30 second level ends with a full credit roll, before introducing the next half minute spurt with an epic new title screen. Just barmy.







Leave a Reply