The last time we tried Half-Minute Hero at Xseed's press event, we dove right into the game with little instruction, so it was difficult to get a grasp of what was going on. Now that we've had some time to play with our own build and start from scratch, Half-Minute Hero isn't as complicated as we thought, once you figure out what you're supposed to be doing. The game is several games combined into one, with different modes that represent various genres. What each of them has in common is that you have 30 seconds to accomplish your goal.
Three modes are available from the start, including Hero 30, Evil Lord 30, and Princess 30. In Hero 30, you play as a wandering traveler, recruited by the Time Goddess to defeat various evil lords who are hell-bent on destroying the entire world. It's like a fast-paced role-playing game, in which you have 30 seconds to defeat the enemy causing havoc at each location. The Time Goddess can grant you extra time for a price, so this is all about time management and plowing through as quickly as possible. Random battles will occur as you wander the 16-bit landscape, but the battles are automatic, so you just need to show up and watch as your hero rams his head into the monsters for damage. Small villages are scattered throughout the areas where you can take a break (the counter is paused here) and heal or purchase weapons and armor. A statue of the Time Goddess is also in the village in case you want to reset the clock back to 30 seconds--for a price.
Evil Lord 30 is a simplistic real-time strategy game in which you play as a handsome but vain evil lord who is searching for a way to lift the curse on his lover. After his tea time is interrupted by ruffians, he heads into town and discovers that humans are acting strangely because of some ugly statue. As the evil lord who pays too much attention to his beautiful face, you can summon monsters to do your bidding. There are three types of goons you can summon with the face buttons. You have shooters who can cast long-range spells, nimbles who are quick and agile fighters, and brutes who are strong warriors that lumber around. Each quest that you undertake will have enemies milling about, so there's some strategy involved if you want to get rid of everyone on the map in 30 seconds. The Time Goddess will show up to provide some help by rewinding the clock for you, but you need to decide what type of monster to summon that will be strong against the foes you're facing.
Princess 30 is about a young naive princess who sets off into the outside world in hopes of finding a cure for her ailing father. The way these quests play out is similar to a side-scrolling shooter. The princess, surrounded by a team of knights, will set off into the countryside, and by using the face buttons, you can fire arrows in any of the four directions, taking out monsters and grabbing treasure chests while hunting down the item in the stage. You have to make it back by curfew (within 30 seconds), but the Time Goddess will once again lend her help to give you some time if you need it. A red carpet is laid out in the level so that as you run by, you can increase your counter, but of course, it will cost you.
It looks like there are three more modes to be unlocked, and each of these modes has 30 missions to complete. Even though you have 30 seconds to beat a mission, sometimes it takes longer than 30 seconds because you'll have a chance to rewind time or pause a bit before continuing on. The Hero mode can be tricky because you're trying to figure out the best path to take to get to your final destination, and the Evil Lord mode requires that you summon the right kinds of creatures to clear the stage. The game is quite fun, and because it's broken up into short missions, it's great to take with you on the go.
Half-Minute Hero combines anime art and sprite graphics to give it an old-school RPG feel. It often seems like the game is making fun of the RPG, RTS, and side-scrolling shooter genres, with the scrolling text intros and the end credit at the end of each RPG quest. And while the Time Goddess magically appears when you need help to save the world, her priorities seem to be entirely focused on your wallet. It's a quirky and original game, a definite change of pace from what you're accustomed to when it comes to playing these genres.
The demo is available on the PlayStation Network, and the full game is set to be released on the PlayStation Portable on October 13.