I remember looking through the Xbox Live Arcade titles a while back, trying to find something new to play.  A decidedly Japanese-looking game caught my eye — Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax.  What the hell kind of a name even is that?  After reading up on it a bit, I decided to give it a shot.  It’s a wild ride packed with humor and incredibly unique gameplay.

Cray cray, indeed.

  • TL;DR: 30 seconds to save the world from destruction!
  • Platform: Xbox 360
  • Score: 9.2
  • Hours Played: 15
  • What I Played: All modes
  • Recommended: Yes

In Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax, a port of the PSP original, you take the role of Hero.  The Time Goddess needs your help to stop an evil lord from casting a spell that will destroy the world!  Oh no!  To make matters worse, said evil lord is going to cast the spell in THIRTY SECONDS!  WHAT?!  You “fight” (I’ll explain later) monsters, level up, and must save the world.  Blah blah blah, another generic hero quest, right?  NOPE.

Each level dumps you in an old-school overworld with a 30 second timer and a new evil lord.  I said that you “fight” monsters.  I put “fight” in quotes because it consists of running across the screen and ramming into the monster until either you or it die, bouncing off each other like a five year old playing with action figures.  Yes, seriously.  After gaining enough XP, you’ll level up.  Once you hit a level high enough to defeat the evil lord in each level, the game will flash “YOU > EVIL” across the screen.  “Damn right I’m better than evil,” you’ll say to yourself.  But what about this whole timer deal?  Well, every time you visit a town, the Time Goddess is nice enough to pause this timer for you.  If your timer gets too low, you can pay her (she’s a bit of a gold digger) and she will reset the timer to 30 seconds.  In town, you can also do side quests to gain party members and upgrade your equipment.

Give her gold. Time Goddesses love gold.

This system lends to a very bursty gameplay.  You leave town, running around the forest with your hair on fire, fighting 3-4 monsters before diving back into town.  You gather yourself, maybe upgrade your sword, then back out you go for another scream-fest.  Half Minute Hero keeps a leaderboard per level.  With each level only taking seconds, it gets very addictive when you see a best time 0.05 seconds better than your own.  Not to brag, but I was in the top 5 of a level when I played through the game.  Just saying (polishes fingernails on shirt).

Graphically, the game is a two-headed beast.  You can play in 8-bit mode, like I did, or you can play in Super Mega Neo Climax mode, which looks more like an anime.  Between (and within) each level, there are various throwback dialogue sets of a giant photo of a character (usually the Time Goddess) speaking.  The main story can end in multiple places, depending on the way you finish missions (choosing to take the giant treasure instead of giving it back to the townspeople, for example).

After beating Hero 30, the main game mode I’ve been telling you about so far, you can unlock other modes.  Evil Lord 30 lets you play as one of the aforementioned evil lords, trying to save his beloved from damnation in an RTS-style game.  Princess 30 is a shooter where you control a princess, surrounded by her cavalcade of knights, trying to get medicine for her dying father.  Knight 30 is similar to Hero 30 in that you play a fighter, but you must protect a sage who is trying to cast a spell that, you guessed it, takes 30 seconds.  Hero 300, my favorite non-main mode, puts you back in the Hero’s shoes for a single mission with a 300 second timer and no Time Goddess.  Hero 3 is another single mission, but with a 3 second timer and the Time Goddess back at your side.  Unfortunately, the Evil Lord/Princess/Knight modes in the Xbox version have been stripped down to one mission instead of 30.

*smash* *smash* *smash* *defeated*

Half Minute Hero is full of humor and crazy fast gameplay.  It’s a satire on the entire RPG genre.  How many games let you go from a no-name to fully geared, dragon-slaying machine in under 60 seconds?  At just 800MSP/$10 (and only $2.49 on Steam!), it’s a steal.

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