Yes, it really is that good.
If we were to review Half-Minute Hero in one word, we'd probably write something like: buy. And really, that's all you need to say about Opus' latest PSP gem. It's a classic, it's a winner. In short: it's fantastic.
Working with the premise of 30-seconds, Half-Minute Hero has you playing as one of four purposely generic protagonists: the Hero, the Princess, the Evil Lord, and the Knight. Each represent their own campaign in the Half-Minute Hero experience, drawing inspiration from classic video game genres.
For example, in the Hero campaign you'll play as a lofty, well, hero raised from lowly routes. Cliche? Of course, it's supposed to be. That's the joke. The twist gameplay wise is that playing as Hero you can expect a full RPG experience — in under 30-seconds. That's right, you'll partake in all the activities of a traditional RPG in under half-a-minute: levelling, collecting items, solving puzzles and communicating with villagers. It's a genius twist that delivers a genuinely innovative experience.
Enlisting the help of the Time Goddess, you'll be able to pray to statues in various villages to reset the 30-second clock, bringing a puzzle element to the gameplay. Y'see, many Quests will have you completing sub-plots, some of which will take longer than 30-seconds. But if you let the clock hit zero, the world will end thanks to an horrific curse cast by an Evil Lord. So it's up to you to manage your time. Resetting the clock will not let you play in a certain environment indefinitely mind. No, the Time Goddess likes to line her pockets and will charge you incrementally for each clock reset, meaning you'll no quest will last longer than 3 or so minutes. Which makes the actual gameplay more puzzle-esque than you'd expect. And naturally the super-short levels result in a game that's perfect for a handheld.
The beauty of Half-Minute Hero lies not only in the gameplay though, but also the presentation. Each quest begins with a Final Fantasy-esque title screen and ends with a list of credits. Awesome. It also looks fantastic with cute NES-like sprites making up the graphics.
Another stand-out element of Half-Minute Hero is the writing, which is nothing short of hilarious. Each and every character in the universe is filled with interesting, self-referential quips that are occasionally laugh-out-loud. The humour's not going to appeal to every taste, but we found ourselves chuckling quite a lot at the game's quirky characters.
If Half-Minute Hero just consisted of the Hero campaign, it would be a rip-roaring success. The fact that you get a further three campaigns on-top is just plain delightful. The Princess campaign is a shooting gallery, while the Evil Lord campaign is and RTS, and the Knight mode has you carrying a Sage around to clear an area of monsters. These modes are of course, all based on the same concept of 30 seconds, and are each equally filled with the great music and interesting characters from the Hero campaign.
All in all, it's a very complete package with over 120-quests to take part in and plenty to unlock. There's even an ad-Hoc multiplayer mode with a co-operative twist on the Hero campaign.
So to summarise where we started: Half-Minute Hero is one of the best PSP games to date. Seriously, if you don't buy it, you're a fool.