Holy unnecessary subtitle Batman!
The term JRPG gets thrust around with a fair bit of prejudice nowadays. The bloated concept-heavy likes of Final Fantasy and Chronotrigger are rarely available on PC, and honestly we aren’t sure why. We enjoy complicated combat systems, nuanced characters and 80-hour plot arcs, possibly even more than the console folk yet a lot of the time our platform gets sidestepped for the console-loving masses; what a missed opportunity. Half Minute Hero is an wacky off the wall RPG from Japan which truly belongs on the PC. We’re mighty glad the former PSP-exclusive finally made the journey, as it’s a massive breath of fresh air in what is a very traditional genre.
No grinding, no hammy plot – just a quick pick and play game structure which is well aware of the JRPG tropes which usually put people off, with numerous attempts to send it up whenever possible. The campaign is simplicity itself; you’re cast as the hero of the land and must save the world from destruction repeatedly at the hands of different monsters who posses a rapidly spreading spell to destroy the globe in thirty seconds. During that time you guide your little sprite around the world, talking to NPCs, performing side-tasks, slaying monsters and exploring the 2D continent. That’s a lot of action to fit into half a minute, but thankfully there’s a goddess at hand who can restart the time loop, allowing you enough time to explore and get your skills up. Crucially your hero doesn’t keep his experience between levels, only his gear, so missions aren’t simply a case of vanquishing the boss there’s also the pressing need of levelling your guy, earning loot and maximising the time given to you before having to spend more gold to reset the timer.
Using such a repetitive structure shouldn’t really work yet here it does, as the story bridging the different scenarios is very self-aware and fun with the characters plenty of zany characters which are a joy to run into.
This formula is spread over four different modes, the first centres around the hero, the second focuses on the villain, the third stars a princess and the final casts you as an evil knight without the help of the Time Goddess. These modes unlock in a sequential fashion and each of them riffs on the time passing component, offering new objectives, combat and gameplay.
It’s rare for easy-to-grasp games to offer this much value and variety, with the first mode taking us over seven hours to get through and the other modes took substantially more. Don’t let this game’s quick moniker fool you, Half Minute Hero will keep you going for an exceptionally long time.
Couple this intriguing gameplay mix with ratings in accordance with how you tackle each scenario, online leaderboards and the rather valuable addition of a new visual mode to compliment the game’s existing 8-bit aesthetic and you have a cheap yet content heavy package which is quite unlike anything else out there on any platform, which is perhaps why it’s one of the few JRPG’s to make it to the PC in the first place.
Don’t underestimate Half Minute Hero, it may have a silly subtitle, but it will show you that even when playing a game 30 seconds can offer a lot of entertainment value. When we’re grinding away in other games, we’d do well to remember that lesson…
A different sort of RPG, which shows you exactly how valuable your time is!
Tags: Half Minute Hero
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