Half-Minute Hero - hands-on

Any RPG fan will tell you it can take between from 30 to 60 hours of hardcore level-grinding, adventuring, and monster battling to beat an average game. If that seems way too long, you’ll greatly appreciate Half-Minute Hero’s warp-speed take on the classic RPG. It boils down the typical trappings of the genre into their primordial elements and douses the whole thing with rocket fuel. You’ve got 30 seconds to save the world – try not to freak out.

Diving in to one of the game’s four play modes during a recent hands-on session, we wound up in the role of a blonde, sword-wielding warrior who seems to have chugged one too many caffeinated healing potions. In a nearby castle, an evil lord had just initiated the process of casting a spell to destroy the world. A 30 second countdown popped up on the screen and chaos erupted. With no time to waste, running around in circles immediately threw us into random encounters with various pixelated monsters. These fast and fun battles literally fly by in a split second and don’t require any actual player input. Your hero just charges the monster with whatever weapon he’s carrying until he slays the beast or dies trying. Leveling up also occurs with similarly ridiculous speed.

As the Armageddon clock ticked down precariously low, we ran into by a local town which temporarily stopped time for a moment. There we purchased a heftier lance and health-restoring snacks before charging headlong into battle against the evil boss with a handful of precious seconds left to spare. The first haphazard attempt at his life resulted in our hero being crushed and the world igniting into a fiery cataclysm. Undaunted – mainly because it only took us a little more than 20 seconds to turbo grind and reach the boss – we prevailed in saving the world on the second try. Levels apparently increase in size and complexity, as another stage we explored threw additional tasks into the fray and allowed us to purchase extra time at steadily increasing prices. Everything happens at breakneck speed, making for some hilariously chaotic moments. Blasts of guitar rock and charmingly retro pixel art are the perfect toppings to spice up this frenetic, bite-sized RPG.

In addition to the action RPG hero mode, you’ll also play as a bow-wielding princess who must venture from her castle to fight evil and return before her curfew, an evil lord who can summon monsters to fight other creatures in dungeons, and a knight who must guide and protect his spell-casting companion. These other modes provide shooter, strategy, and escort mission-themed variations on the spastic core gameplay. The full game will feature 120 missions spread evenly between each style of play.

Designed to be chugged (not sipped), Half-Minute Hero is a crazy concoction that gets the blood pumping and leaves you pleasantly dazed – wondering what the hell just happened in the ultra-short span of 30 seconds. Perhaps that’s why we absolutely can’t wait for a taste of the finished game later this fall.

Jul 14, 2009