Mini Review – Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax
You wish to mock my size?
Half Minute Hero was released last year on the PSP and has now been ported to XBLA as Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax. Reworked and revamped and with the constant threat of DLC is this worth 800MSP?
For those who may not know Half Minute Hero (HMH) is a parody of the JRPG genre. Traditionally incredibly long and filled with large amounts of grinding and an all powerful enemy trying to destroy the world, HMH flips all that on its head. A bad person is going around teaching Evil Lords the spell of destruction and it takes thirty seconds to cast. You, as the young hero, are tasked with becoming powerful enough to defeat the Evil Lord within that time limit by fighting enemies and finding/buying better equipment.
Fear not however because you have the Goddess of Time on your side. For a small fee she will reset the timer back to the full thirty seconds whilst you keep your level and equipment. Thanks to her you also gain levels at a faster rate, but as a side effect your level is reset to level one at the end of each mission. Each time you reset the timer the price to do so goes up so you must still be relatively quick and there are leaderboards, if you are so inclined, to race against.
There are other variables thrown into the mix as well, with certain stages having side quests which could result in new equipment, a comrade (who is only with you temporarily) or a new route which may unlock a branching path to a new level. You are also awarded medals at the end of the stage for completing certain criteria. The game is pretty good at showing you that you missed something and pointing you in the right direction in order to get it so there is quite a lot of replayability built into it. You could maybe compare it to a puzzle game in that respect, as although it has all the traits of an JRPG, the main crux of the game is to find the quickest route through the level as possible.
To help keep up the pace all battles are automatic, the hero just runs across the screen, doing and receiving damage as he makes contact with foes. You can carry one herb with you which you can quickly pop with the X button if you’re getting low on health and you can dash with the B button to get around faster and avoid random battles when on the world map, but this drains your HP. That’s as complicated as HMH gets. At its simplest level you just have to grind until you become strong enough to take on the boss (which the game tells you, ‘YOU > EVIL’) but it’s the side quests where the variation comes in, tasking you with saving a city from a volcano which erupts on the ten second mark or putting out a fire in a forest.
Unfortunately due to the rather simple nature of the gameplay things can get repetitive quite quickly. I can imagine this suiting a handheld console a lot thanks to its bite sized chunks and largely isolated levels (you even get a credit sequence after every level, which you can fastforward, as if each level is supposed to represent one JRPG) but it doesn’t hold up when played in longer sittings (like when reviewing a game for instance). This isn’t a deal breaker as you just have to approach the game differently and not try to complete too many levels at once as after a break the gameplay becomes a lot of fun again.
The script helps. At times it can come across as a bit too blatant in its poking fun at JRPGs and the rather simple nature of the task before the Hero but it’s still charming and combined with the original 8-bit style graphics can be quite amusing. The Super Mega Neo Climax from the game’s title refers to a new graphics mode where the 8-bit sprites are replaced with Flash looking graphics. Both work well, though the old school sprites suit the original concept better they can be quite difficult to make out on a big television whilst the newer graphics are much clearer and can be full of character but the main Hero isn’t that well designed in this mode. The game doesn’t remember if you switch to the old school graphics when you turn it off and for this reason I played most of the game with the newer, default style.
Once you complete the main story (Hero 30) you can unlock additional modes which in the PSP version were very different gameplay styles (shoot ’em up and RTS for example) whereas here they’ve been simplified to play exactly like Hero 30 and only consist of one level. They are a nice addition and there are a lot of levels in the main game anyway thanks to the branching pathways so you can’t complain too much about lack of content.
There is also an online component where heroes race to complete the level as fast as possible but it is very much a sideshow to the main single player campaign. As mentioned in the opening paragraph there is a ‘Download Content’ button as well but as of yet there is nothing to download. We’ll see if they give us the modes that were in the PSP version or something new but, depending on the price, having spent less than £10 on the main game I don’t find the idea of DLC as offensive in this case compared to when it happens with full price retail releases.
Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax is not an RPG in the normal sense but JRPG players will find its charms hard to resist, whilst people who don’t normally like RPGs might enjoy the time trial nature of the levels. There is a lot of content here for the reasonable sum of 800MSP which makes it very hard not to recommend. Its only real downfall was a triumph on the PSP, it is suited to short bursts and as such can become repetitive if you play for too long in one go. But here’s a pro tip: Don’t play for too long in one go.