PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Half-Minute Hero

As innovative and as refreshing as Half-Minute Hero is, it really is only worth playing for one quarter of the time.

Publisher: Xseed Games
Players: 1-4
Price: $29.99
Title: Half-Minute Hero
Platform: PSP
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
Developer: Opus
Release Date: 2009-10-13

Though sadly Japan’s influence over the gaming world has dwindled since the turn of the mmillenium, their games have not lost any of their spark, weirdness, craziness, or WTF-ness.

Half-Minute Hero is proof of that. The self deprecating humour and actual honest to goodness funny sarcasm is something that one would have to look long and hard for in most western games.

As the title implies, this is no epic. The few games modes that there are can be completed in the time that it’ll take you to watch a Metal Gear Solid cutscene. So, still fairly long, but nowhere near the expected JRPG length. However, that’s the beauty of the game. By removing all the time consuming features of the genre such as the dreaded level grinding, item collecting, inventory management, etc., it leaves us free to do what we all want to do most in a role-player, kill monsters and save the world.

The plot is as nonsensical as one would expect but in a good way. An Evil Lord, known as…Evil Lord has cast the spell of destruction, which, oddly enough, only takes 30 seconds to obliterate the planet. Your goal as the protagonist, known only as “Hero” is to speed through the game world and prevent Armageddon against the clock. Along the way, you’ll encounter random battles that are fought automatically and come to the realization that the levelling up is irrelevant, instead the route that you plot out to reach your goal is of the most importance.

Should the clock hit zero, then you can enter towns along your route and replenish health or reset the timer at a small cost, of course. As the title progresses, you’ll attract more cast members, each a parody of JRPG characters, such as a plucky Princess, an obedient Knight, and, heck, even the Evil Lord joins in and gets his own game mode to boot.

Genre mixing comes in here. While in the “Hero” mode we play an RPG, the “Evil Lord” mode offers us a pseudo real-time strategy game, summoning monsters to kill his foes. The “Princess” mode plays like a 2D shooter, while the “Knight” mode plays out as escort missions. Each mode has its own story, such as that the Evil Lord must return his girlfriend back to her former human self. The Princess attempts to rescue family members, and the knight protects an important Sage whose role is revealed to be of major importance to the narrative on the whole and acts as the “big twist” that we can all see coming a mile off.

The problem here is that none of these sections pack the same punch in terms of humour and wit as they are displayed in Hero mode. The best gags are used in the early stages of the game, something that even the scriptwriters acknowledge. The repetition in both gameplay and script will eventually just leave you pushing the skip button to bypass what initially seemed to be a funny plot.

But herein lies the biggest issue with Half-Minute Hero, it’s ultimately a one trick pony. The joke is funny to begin with but wears thin quickly. If the three other modes were as frantic and as funny as Hero mode, it wouldn’t be such an issue.

What you're left with then is a game that shimmers rather than shines, a game that exemplifies why the Japanese must have an influence in gaming, more so as games become more serious and darker in tone and content. As innovative and as refreshing as Half-Minute Hero is, it really is only worth playing for one quarter of the time.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.