Don't disregard Half-Minute Hero as another forgettable piece of role-playing fluff. Underneath the odd title and misleading cover art is a remarkable adventure featuring a hip 8-bit presentation and a variety of game styles. It's definitely one of the better on-the-go epics you'll run across.
The game tells the story of a great battle between the Time Goddess and the Ultimate Evil Lord. She manages to defeat him, but that doesn't mean evil disappears. So, she gathers a group of heroes, led by a brave lad who actually calls himself Hero, to battle any foes that resurface from the Evil Lord's collapse.
Instead of battling for ten minutes at a time, Half-Minute Hero features quick 30-second encounters. This speeds up the game tremendously, and puts your skills to the test as you try to defeat baddies as quickly as possible. If 30 seconds isn't enough, however, you can forfeit currency for a time extension. The choice is yours. Play it safe and risk reaping some of the game's better rewards, or improve yourself to score some mad loot.
Better yet, the game is much more than a straightforward RPG, with four available play types. Hero 30 is your typical role-playing mode, with the aforementioned half-minute fights. Knight 30 is a straightforward action game, where you protect people from enemies. Evil Lord 30 is a real-time strategy game, and finally, there's Princess 30, where you wail away on everything in your path. It's great to have such a variety, although some games work better than others. Evil Lord 30 feels slow when compared to Princess 30 and Hero 30. The scenarios also become repetitive over time, although if you stick with it, the later stages do provide more of a challenge.
Another huge part of Half-Minute Hero is its presentation. Rather than stick with the overdone 3-D visuals most role-playing games possess (especially dungeon crawlers), Xseed went with a cool 8-bit style. You'll instantly think you're back in the Final Fantasy NES days with this game, walking pixilated characters around and pulling off uncomplicated sprite-based spells and attacks.
Similarly, the soundtrack reminds us of role-playing games of old. The music changes up constantly, between upbeat battle themes and soothing melodies that play as you visit villages and other peaceful locales. The sound effects aren't much, but the tiny little sword slash and gun effects are good.
Half-Minute Hero will take you several hours to beat, and while some of the objectives can be a grind (especially in Evil Lord 30), boredom never becomes an issue. Furthermore, if you have a friend that owns a copy, you can invite them into your party via AdHoc to take on enemies in Boss Mode.
Had Xseed done away with Evil Lord mode in favor of something else (like a strategic ship battle mode or something), it could've easily scored a perfect rating. Still, three out of four isn't bad for Half-Minute Hero, so we fully recommend it. Its various modes and retro presentation make this a game worth spending time with.
What's Hot: Offers a plethora of game types, outstanding 8-bit presentation is a throwback to the RPGs of old, humorous characters and storyline will suck you in.
What's Not: Evil Lord mode doesn't measure up to the other three, archaic visuals.