The Average Gamer

Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy (PC) Review

Yep, he really likes snakes.

Thirty seconds to save the world? No problem! Thirty seconds when you repeatedly get lost in a cactus-laden desert because your powers of recall are old and tired? That’s a little more tricky.

Starting out on your adventures as a rag clad wannabe hero with nothing but a pointy stick and a retro-classic platter of both music and graphics; MarvelousAQL have created a game that’s part RPG, more time management and totally frustrating (in a sick & twisted way).

You’ll traverse the blockily-rendered kingdom by successfully conquering the evil lord for each stage and reaping the spoils. With the somewhat mercenary help of the Time Goddess and her gold-sucking shrines, it’s possible to rewind to the start of your allotted thirty seconds, though it’s wise to make sure you have the coinage to pay for the miracle. That fee will increase each time you reset the clock.

Sallying forth from your starting point, random encounters will not only stop you in your tracks but also automatically enter you in to non-player-controlled combat. Your options are to fight or flee. Cowardice however, will cost as both the flee and dash commands eat in to your precious health pool which will only regenerate upon eating a herb (inventory consumable) or supping on a bowl of the local village nosh. 

As part of each level’s design you’ll encounter camps of helpful locals offering their services, consumables and armour or weapon upgrades to make your mighty hero that little bit more shiny. Companions can sometimes be found in these encampments and will help you get past the slightly more hardcore areas (for a fee or a pain-in-the-arse side-quest). They don’t hang around though, so get used to being forever alone.

Each level at its most basic becomes a time management puzzle. You’ll need to grind for gold and XP, make sure you know which villages have which services, try and remember specific routes to locations and keep an eye not only on the timer but for that point where you can’t gain enough gold to pay the grasping Time Goddess for a clock reset. There are, of course, the RPG elements, mostly in the equipment screens where you can decide which of the many presents you’ll want to dress your hero with. I found a charming auburn wig that my hero refused to be separated from.

“By the power of greyyyyskullll”.

It’s this mixture of time restriction and the multitude of ways you can solve each level, that makes this game both simple and horrifically complicated at the same time. Having rage-quit from some of the earlier levels, I can attest to the fact that you do (eventually) get in to the swing of doing a few trial runs before formulating your master plan of attack. Annoyingly though, after all that agonising build-up to each level’s boss fight, I found the closing combat somewhat underwhelming. Without the ability to control your character in combat it becomes a case of just watching numbers running up the screen and hoping that you remembered to bring a healing herb with you.

Considering the fact that this really isn’t a game I’d usually consider buying, Half Minute Hero has really charmed me with its off-beat humour and memories of the types of game I always wanted to play on the Mega Drive (the music alone reminds me of SEGA games). It comes with several unlockable modes featured in other versions to offer further play-time for your pennies and is all-in-all a very well rounded game for the £6.99 price tag. Yes, the endless rolling of the credits is deeply annoying and the mental shift of not being able to control combat can be a bit of a stretch but if some retro-tinged puzzling appeals then this is definitely a goer.

Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy contains all the content and features from the previous PSP and XBLA versions of Half Minute Hero. It’s available now on Steam.

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