Friday, 29 March 2013

Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy: PC Game Design Review

Recently in December I won a free copy of the Half-Minute Hero thanks to a twitter giveaway. Having finished it, I thought I would give my opinion of the game.

First of all it a really fun game. The game is an action-puzzler with an fantasy Japanese RPG setting. It uses a lot of existing JRPG cliches but in very much tongue-in-cheek light-hearted manner as to be expected from a game entitled Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy. I very much recommend this if you love Japanese RPGs or action-puzzlers.

It's worth explaining the very unique gameplay:
Gameplay Mechanics Overview

Each map is small and has a time limit of 30 seconds before the world is destroyed and you lose the map.
Your Hero starts each level at level 1 with whatever equipment you've equipped. Gameplay for the main Hero mode  is divided into walking around a world map, talking to people in towns/villages and combat.
Like in any RPG, the goal is to defeat the boss.

World Maps- Walking around the world is similar to your standard RPGs. You have a top down view and move your character in classic 2D Final Fantasy manner.
Towns- In towns you shift to a side view, time freezes and you can chat to the people in the town.
Combat- Combat is straight forward. It shifts to side view and your Hero and enemies will run towards each other and start attacking each other rapidly. Each will automatically lose health based on their statistics just like in any RPG until one dies. Winning means your Hero gets experience and gold. Like in any RPG he will level up if he has enough points. Losing sends you back to the beginning of the level.
Time- You have 30 seconds which can be rewound at Goddess statues by paying gold. However the cost will keep rising until it becomes unaffordable.

A great deal of each level is therefore trying to do as much as you can before the timer runs out and then rewinding time to get another 30 seconds. Each level usually has a gimmick, quests or alternative routes you need to finish in order to unlock all the equipment and paths and is a great way to encourage replayability.

Although the last stage you'll play is stage 30-something, there are actually closer to 70 stages because of all the branching plotlines and alternate routes!

There are two modes, the first is a retro style similar to 8-bit and 16-bit era games on the Nintendo or Super Nintendo. The second is a Neo-cartoon style which makes everything look like paper cutouts. Personally the new graphics look terrible and I spent all of my time playing the classic retro style.

Other Gameplay modes
Aside from the main Hero 30 mode, here are other other modes as well such as Evil Lord 30 (RTS style gameplay), Princess 30 (a side shooter)  and Knight 30 (top down action mode). These are full game modes (relatively speaking) and feature about 30 levels each.

Should you purchase?
Simply put this is a fantastic game with whole heap of content for just US$10 and an even better deal if on discount! Of course, for me it was so much sweeter because I got it for free thanks to winning a competition!

Here are some very minor issues with the game.

Other modes- Other modes such as Classic mode Evil Lord 30, classic mode Princess 30 and classic Knight 30 don't feel as tight and well implemented as the original. For example, the Evil Lord game has you summoning creatures but there's little control except to order them to charge in a direction. It's still fun but compared to tight puzzle gameplay of the first, the other modes feel much less polished and like extended mini-games.

Neo and classic mode Extra modes are different! - I could have missed it! The classic extra modes such as Evil Lord 30 have full games while the Neo-cartoon mode gameplay offers a single level in the other modes. Nowhere is this mentioned that the two graphic modes are actually different! I think its because the Neo-cartoon comes from one version of the game (XBLA) and the classic retro mode comes from another (PSP version).

One 'semi-secret level'- One of the path branches on mission 25 isn't very clear due to lack of dots connecting it on the- A strange move considering that's the only alternate path that lacks a dot.

I loved Half-Minute Hero. Its a fun challenging puzzle action game wrapped in nostalgia. I found it great fun and the sheer amount of content is staggering. Get this if you're a fan of RPGs or Puzzlers!

Alternative endings + Gameplay
There's an alternate path/ending you can unlock by picking up an item in cave on mission 25 which is highlighted in the level summary but seemingly can't be found in the world map. Once you have the item, to access the end from the main menu, press right from Level 25. This will move your cursor to the volcano. Don't forget to try the extra modes such as Evil Lord 30 in both classic and Neo graphics modes as they are different games!

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