Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Review
Developer: Marvelous / Publisher: Marvelous / Played on: Xbox 360 / Price: 800 MSP ($10) / ESRB: Everyone (Mild Fantasy Violence)
Here’s some of my gameplay statistics: It took me over 100 hours to save the world in Final Fantasy VII; I caught ‘em all in the first Pokemon game in a little under 60 hours; I even saved Hyrule in The Legend of Zelda in less than 10. And with Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax I saved the world in 30 seconds. Not bad. A year and a half after the original release on the PSP, Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax comes to the Xbox 360. Touting a new visual style and multiplayer support, Super Mega Neo Climax offers up more than 30 seconds of epic-ness, even if that’s what the title is advertising.
Half-Minute Hero is a satire to the entire RPG genre, right down to its 8-bit graphical style. The original PSP title scored high in my book for its pixilated portrayal of each town, character, and background, and the Xbox port does the original game justice. The old graphical style pays homage to classic SNES RPGs like Final Fantasy VI and Secret of Mana, where you had no idea if you were looking at a monster or a really ugly townsperson. Super Mega Neo Climax comes with this original 8-bit graphical style as well as an entirely new cartoon-esque design. The new graphics are on the cute side and give everything personality, as you can actually make out faces and see more detail on each character. Playing with the new graphical style is fun but actually takes away from the overall tone: the game is meant to be a parody of classic RPGs, so the 8-bit graphics add to that feeling of nostalgia and mockery. Thankfully you can switch between each style at the main menu. No matter which way you decide to play, Half-Minute Hero looks fantastic on the Xbox 360 but I recommend keeping the traditional graphics on.
A spell of destruction has been cast, and if something isn’t done the world will be destroyed in 30 seconds. That is the basis for every level in Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax. The game’s main mode, entitled Hero 30, has you take on the role of a hero (go figure) who has to stop the spell from being cast at all costs. Time, however, is on your side as the money-hungry Time Goddess has sworn to help you in your quest, so long as you pay her gold. Visiting towns and praying to Time Goddess statutes will rewind time and the spell countdown timer will reset to 30 seconds. Even with time on your side you’ve got plenty of work to do to become strong enough to stop the evil lord from casting the spell of destruction. Fortunately all the menus, grinding, grunt work, and boringness of classic RPGs has been done away with. Instead you’ll find that slaying enemies, gaining levels, finding new weapons, and recruiting allies are a breeze. In mere seconds you’ll be level 20 or higher, strong enough to save the world. It’s all the fun of an RPG in a bite-sized adventure. Even with combat taking place automatically it is still a rewarding experience to watch damage numbers fly off enemies as you crush them on your quest. Branching paths, online leader boards, and multiple endings offer up a good deal of replay value after you’ve finished the story, but things can get repetitive after the first few missions.
There are a handful of other game modes outside of the main mode, Hero 30. Much like the PSP version of the game, Evil Lord 30, Princess 30, and Knight 30 modes unlock after completing the main story. In a very poor move these modes are significantly changed from their PSP counterparts and this hurts the game a lot. In the PSP game Evil Lord 30 acted as a real-time strategy game, Princess 30 was a side-scrolling shooter, and Knight 30 was an action oriented mode. On the Xbox 360 though, each of these modes are identical in gameplay to Hero 30, and feature only one level instead of the PSP’s 30. Why this was changed boggles my mind, but as it is this glaring omission makes the Xbox version of the game vastly inferior to the PSP version.
The original Half-Minute Hero had a multiplayer mode in which you and another hero competed to become strong enough to defeat the evil lord first. Super Mega Neo Climax ups the ante with Xbox Live support for up to four heroes racing to claim the glory. Multiplayer gameplay is much like Hero 30 mode, except the timer doesn’t stop when in town, and having time run out doesn’t end the game but resets each character to level five. A scant three maps are available in this mode, but the areas that are available are fun to run through time and again. I had a lag-free experience online, and actually had a fun time playing online with my friends. Though multiplayer can be a fun diversion from the main game, the limited number of maps and repetitive nature of the gameplay won’t keep you coming back. A cooperative campaign and some variety to versus mode would have been a very welcome addition.
Combat is automatic so all that’s left for you to do is move around, talk to people, and buy items or equipment. That being said, controlling your hero can sometimes be frustrating. On several occasions the controls just weren’t as responsive as they needed to be. One time I was just trying to walk through these rocks to get into a cave, but my hero kept walking too fast past the entrance, which caused me to waste precious time. Several other times I was pushing the control stick right, but unless it’s in just the right position you won’t move. The dpad doesn’t fare any better, so regardless of what method you use the controls are going to take some getting use to. Though it’s not threatening to the overall game, the lackluster controls can sometimes be annoying.
Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax for the Xbox 360 is a good way to play this quirky RPG if you don’t have a PSP. The new anime-esque graphics are a nice addition, but the retro style graphics are the real way to play. Gameplay is fast paced and exciting, but omitting the variety of modes in the PSP title is a huge disappointment. If you have a PSP and an Xbox 360 and want to play this game, look past the pretty graphics of the Xbox version and get the superior PSP game. But if this is your only option then you’ll still find a lot of satirical charm and good times in Half-Minute Hero.
7.0 / 10