With only seconds left on the clock, I sprinted to the nearest town — only to run into a giant hermit crab. Forced into a fight, I watched as my hero pounded away at the crab’s oversized shell with his wooden sword. With two seconds remaining, I finished the battle and ran into the town, narrowly missing the game-over screen.
MarvelousAQL Inc.’s “Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy” is a parody of classic Japanese role play games games, where each level of the game has a 30 second time limit.
All of the things that you love and hate about Japanese RPGs are simplified and streamlined. Each world area is compact and features villages are filled with nonplayer characters that repeat across levels, as well as item vendors for healing, weapons, and armor.
Players navigate the game map by selecting levels on a path. Each level houses an evil lord who is casting the Spell of Destruction that will destroy the world in 30 seconds. Fortunately for our hero, the Time Goddess will allow him to rewind time for an ever-increasing amount of gold. This is the defining mechanic behind “Half Minute Hero” and it makes the RPG incredibly fun to play.
Although time does stop while you are in villages, traveling and fighting enemies all takes place in the small 30 second window. You’ll always have to keep an eye on the clock while completing quests. It is a race against the clock as you battle enemies and purchase equipment to get strong enough to defeat the boss hidden in a castle somewhere in the level.
Combat is fairly simple as your only control options are to use an equipped item, flee from battle or speed up your character at the cost of health. There are no spells to cast or enemies to select; instead, you will charge the monsters until they are dead. While this may sound boring and repetitive, the combat takes a backseat to the more intriguing RPG mechanics of the game.
Managing your health and your time is the first priority. Choosing and purchasing equipment is also important, but the game provides opportunities to collect loot liberally. All of these considerations affect attempts to level up your hero for the boss battle at the end of each area.
“Half-Minute Hero” manages to be funny and fun at the same time; the dialogue and story have an undeniable charm. With an upbeat soundtrack and incredibly colorful yet sparse graphics, this game can be comical at times. While the game becomes stale after a while, and it gets frustrating to restart a level if it takes you a few seconds over time, your time in the world of the Time Goddess is still largely enjoyable.
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