E3 09: Impressions of Half Minute Hero

Role playing games take a lot of time to play, and for some gamers, that’s the drawback that keeps them from playing them. Enter Half Minute Hero, a game that is like your standard role-playing game on fast-forward. We’re not talking a short ten hour game here, though. Try thirty seconds fast.

Hate equipping your items? This game does it automatically. Hate level grinding? You’ll never have it easier. Hate random encounters? Don’t worry, they only take a few seconds. Hate RPGs? Well, you may like this one after you hear how it works.

You know how you have to walk around a map, happen upon a random encounter, and then use a turn-based battle system to defeat enemies to earn experience and cash? Well, Half Minute Hero is quite a bit more streamlined. Fighting involves…walking forward. Seriously, that’s it. You just press forward on the PSP d-pad and run into enemies after a random encounter on the overhead map. As you collide with them, the battle initiates, hit points are taken off, and you continue to go about your way. This all happens in the span of about 2 seconds on average.

Half Minute Hero has you going out on multiple 30-second quests, where you’ll gain levels every few seconds, working up to an encounter with some kind of boss or end challenge. We saw a quest where the player was out to repair a bridge. In the span of about 25 seconds, we saw the character level up five or so levels, take down multiple enemies, and fix then fix bridge, leaving plenty of time — five seconds — to chill out and hit the shops. Believe it or not, you’ll even see end credits after the mission, and just like the game, they’ll fly by really fast.

There’s plenty of visual charm for Half Minute Hero, too. Despite being a PSP game, you’ll see only 8-bit graphics, pixelized characters and enemies, and retro-flavored maps and scenery. Later, in strange contrast, high-resolution character art tells the game’s story. There’s a ton of charm here for gamers that remember 8-bit games, but for those that don’t, the game moves so fast that doesn’t really matter that much anyway — you won’t have much time too look at them. 

We were told that Half Minute Hero includes four different game modes and 120 stages. A crazy metal, guitar-filled soundtrack sets the rapid pace. There’s over 15 hours of game play here, and up to four players can duke it out via ad-hoc wireless connection

The bite-sized battles of Half Minute Hero go up in the face of those that complain that they don’t have time for role-playing games. Now non-RPG fans have no excuse. XSEED is bringing this retro-flavored RPG to North America on the PSP in the Fall of 2009. 

Dale North