Little of this, little of that...
Ahh... there's nothing sweeter than the true love of the screwball. Half-Minute Hero is basically an off-kilter hodgepodge of WTF wrapped around a egg timer. Three modes are available as soon as you turn it on: Hero 30 (the RPG of world-saving), Evil Lord 30 (summon and stay the prettiest!) and Princess 30 (shoot everything that moves). Work through all of those and you'll be treated to Knight Mode, a protection-strategy mode where fighting is optional, though somehow still encouraged.
[image1]Does it have style? You bet your pixelated butt it does! All of the pretty, pretty anime-styled characters on the box and opening sequence have been hit over the head with the old-school stick (like a NES controller) and – voila! – they're a bizarre 8-bit chibi incarnation of themselves, running around a grouping of spare SNES world maps.
Two of the modes, Hero 30 and Evil Lord 30, have multiple paths to explore. As the Hero, you determine the course of events in each scenario: If a village is in need of your help, you can choose to help them, or let them suffer from the wrath of their particular “Evil Lord” problem. In Evil Lord 30 campaign, every area you defeat opens another batch to be beaten. Every time you're presented with a new choice, another path just might open up to a new way of reaching the thrilling climax.
No matter which mode you're playing, however, things will start to get old quickly. Each mission is the same as the last, no matter how far along you might be. It's fun for a while, but it's too damn easy. Even if you do find yourself losing one mission, playing a second time is almost guaranteed success as you know exactly what went wrong and how to fix it... by using exactly the same method from any other mission in that mode.
[image2]What really stands out here is the writing, which is reminiscent of the Disgaea series. Everything you find and every person you talk to has something to say, and it's usually sarcastic. There aren't enough games that poke fun at you for doing (or not doing) something, and this one is ready with a quip every time. Early on, it's worth reading, but the longer the game goes on, the more you'll find yourself skipping through without bothering to follow the “storyline”. They definitely use all of their best jokes early on, and as it goes on, the writers even acknowledge this fact, which makes it all the more obvious.
The whole thing won't take you long to work through, even if you want to play and collect everything it has to offer. Just unlocking Knight Mode can be done in around 5-6 hours, and that's tinkering around and toying with the multiple paths. It's not long, it's not deep, but sometimes that's just what you need: a fun – albeit short – hit to keep you going.
And in record time!