PSP owners have been lucky enough to enjoy some of the most innovative titles of the generation, and some of ‘em are just plain quirky to the max. Take, for example, Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! What Did I Do To Deserve This? and the current topic of conversation, Half-Minute Hero. Sometimes, you can’t glean much in the way of pertinent information from a game’s title but in this case, the name says it all: you will be taking to the 2D, old-school, sprite-filled battlefield in 30-second combat segments. This is the type of idea that, when first conceived of, certain naysayers may respond with, “man, that’ll never work. It’s too silly!” Well, don’t tell that to developer Opus, who is taking a definite chance by simplifying the role-playing concept and implementing an action-oriented theme, which of course involves besting enemies as quickly as humanly possible. However, the basic premise is standard RPG fare- a blonde, kinda faceless hero must rid the land of invading monsters and if you fail in your quest, the kingdom will be overrun. That’s just classic, isn’t it?
You will be sent out to tackle the nasties and yes, each of your quests will be half-minute jaunts that require you to meet the goal of the quest within that timeframe. The battles themselves are random, and when you encounter a monster, you will enter into the old-fashioned battle screen where the hero and assailants trade blows until the HP of one side is completely drained. Once that’s done, it’s time to move on and slay more invaders, but if you should fall in combat, you’ll need to zip back to town and refresh yourself…if you think you can do it in time. Of course, your primary intent is to gain as many levels as you can, which will undoubtedly make your hero stronger and make it easier to tackle tougher enemies. You’ll need all the help you can get, too, because when an evil sorcerer shows up and says he’s gonna destroy the world in 30 seconds, you had best be a fast and efficient fighter. This doesn’t mean there won’t be requirements, though; for example, in order to enter the castle to battle the sorcerer, you need to be at least Level 5. If you can’t do it in your first try, just keep at it. We imagine it’d be tough to get bored with half-minute adventures.
And hey, any gold you win in battle will most certainly come in handy if you run into some seriously tough customers. According to those who went hands-on with the game at E3 this year (IGN, Destructoid, etc.) it seems that if you die, the Goddess of Time will rewind the clock and let you have another shot at it…for a monetary sum. Now, we can’t be sure, but it seems that if you succumb to the perils of your adventure and have no coin in your pockets, that Goddess won’t appease your pleas for another try. In other words, no money = Game Over. That’s just a guess, but what other reason can there be for paying money to get resurrected…? There must be a consequence, right? As for the leveling process, we don’t have the details on any specific skills or abilities the hero may be able to utilize in combat, or exactly how he’ll advance (do experience points increase statistics, like in most RPGs?), but this information is almost irrelevant. We know how the game will play out, and a turn-based format would definitely waste too much time; just expect fast-paced fighting in an old-school 2D sprite atmosphere.
To add to the variety, you can select another character besides the default hero. Each mode offers – yeah, you guessed it – 30 separate stages, and each character will play very differently: the Evil Lord 30 will require you to utilize some strategy, the Knight 30 will challenge the champion to defend a mage, and the Princess 30 has a bow and arrow in her repertoire. Oh, and she also has a bevy of slaves to carry her around the battlefield, from which her arrows will rain if the enemies deign to attack Her Highness. Lastly, although absolutely everything sounds like it may revolve around the 30-second timeframe, it seems that aforementioned money can be used to actually buy extra time for the Goddess. Hence, if you have enough cash, you might be able to increase the allocated 30 seconds by purchasing an extra five or ten seconds, or something. There may be a limit to how much extra time you can purchase, but just having the option can certainly make things a great deal easier. Oh, and although it’s a 2D format, there will be a few fairly polished cut-scenes that should generate a stark contrast between the gameplay graphics and the non-interactive segments. You know, kinda like in the early days of the original PlayStation, so it makes perfect sense that it’ll be on the PSP.
Half-Minute Hero is quirky. It looks funny. It appears to be genuinely unique. We think you’ll be smiling your way through each 30-second mini-adventure.
7/6/2009 Ben Dutka