Half-Minute Hero is one of the most unique games to come out in quite some time. It takes the concept of a “pick up and play game” and runs with it, with gameplay that is perfectly suited for a handheld. Taking the concept of an RPG and making it well suited for a pick up and play experience seems like something that might be impossible, but developer Opus has done just that.
There are three main modes of play that are unlocked when you first start the game (with some more to unlock as you make progress in the game). The main mode is Hero 30, which casts you as a random hero who has the job of trying to save the world in thirty seconds. This sounds like it is practically impossible, but there is no real motivation or story besides “there is a villain, you are a hero, and you must stop the villain from destroying the world.”
Within the first quest of the game, you meet up with the Time Goddess who will reverse time for you whenever you please (and are willing to pay her the money to do). And once you complete this quest and stop the villain, you learn that the real fiend behind this plot is still alive. With more than 30 different quests in all, you will find yourself with plenty to do in this main mode, especially considering some of these quests lead to branching paths.
The gameplay is rather simple, and it seems tailored to any gamer, even those who do not consider themselves RPG fans. At the beginning of each quest, you start out at level one, and as you run around the open world you run into random encounters. You continue to fight these monsters, level up, and travel around the map until you are ready to face the final boss of the quest. The battles themselves are played out based on what your level is. There is no real input from the player required, you just watch the battle unfold, and how long it lasts depends on the level of your character.
If you find yourself running low on time, you can go to a nearby town and use one of the several Time Goddess statues to restore time once again. From these towns, you can also buy healing items, equipment (which you keep from quest to quest), and get specific side quests which may lead to rewards that help you in your journey.
At the end of each quest, you are ranked based on how many times you used the Time Goddess statues and just how quickly you were able to “save the world.” There is no real penalty for dying, as you are just brought back to your starting position with only a small bit of health.
Each quest has specific challenges that might take you a few tries how to figure out. In this regard, Half-Minute Hero can be quite the puzzling experience, especially during some of the later levels. But this challenge is welcome, especially considering that the game overall is not terribly long (but this is no surprise really) and if you decide to sit down and get through the game as quickly as possible, it probably will not take you more than 4-5 hours. But it is meant as a pick up and play title, one you will find yourself playing at 20-30 minutes at a time before moving on to something else.
The other two modes you get from the start are Evil Lord 30 and Princess 30, both of which can be finished pretty quickly. Evil Lord 30 is a quick-paced strategy game where you must defend your castle. Princess 30 plays like a side scrolling shooter. Both modes are fun for a little while, but they leave a lot to be desired and just are not nearly as fun as the main mode of play.
Despite how lackluster the other modes in the game are, Hero 30 is a blast, and the entire game is well worth the price because of it. This is a game that is not meant to be played for long periods of time, but if you do find yourself getting through it quickly, there are harder difficulty modes that could provide quite the challenge. Half-Minute Hero is an incredibly original and truly fun handheld experience that should not be missed by any PSP owners.
ESRB: Rated E10+ for ages ten and up; rated for animated blood, language, and mild fantasy violence
Pros: The main mode of play, Hero 30, is addictive and challenging
Cons: The other game modes are a lot more shallow than Hero 30