Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Half Minute Hero 2 Review

Yuusha 30 Second (Half Minute Hero 2) is the sequel to Marvelous's Half Minute Hero, which I suggest playing first. The first game, available on the PSP and XBox Live Arcade, is shorter, lighter, and a good indicator of how you'll feel about the sequel. If you liked the first game, you'll also like the sequel. If you didn't like the first one because it didn't feel enough like a JRPG, you should try this one. If you simply didn't like the first game, you won't like this one either

I'm going to write this review as though you're familiar with the first game. Half Minute Hero 2 is Japanese only right now, but it is playable without Japanese knowledge... you'll just miss all the story and charm.

Quick summary:
  1. Very much a sequel to Half Minute Hero. It's a JRPG/Puzzle/Action hybrid that focuses more on fun than challenge.
  2. Only has RPG-mode, so Evil Lord/Princess/Knight fans are out of luck. RPG-mode fans are in for a huge treat.
  3. Story is more of a take on epic SNES RPGs (e.g. Final Fantasy IV) than of classic NES RPGs (e.g. Dragon Quest).
  4. Story mode less arcade-y. All the half-minute quests are in the framework of a traditional overworld RPG, although quests are replayable.
  5. Lots of secret equipment/party members, as well as significant post story content. Maybe a 20-40 hour game, unless you really get into score attack or user levels.
  6. Lots of extra modes, notably user generated levels and infinite play modes.
  7. Music, graphics (retro 16 bit), and gameplay elements are all a big upgrade over the original.
From all this, you can probably tell if you'd like the game or not. It's definitely not for everyone. I personally loved it. I'm arbitrarily giving it a score of 9, mostly because it's a niche game and I'd understand people who find it repetitive. I'll go into much more detail now.


Story mode contains the bulk of the content. Like in the original, you take control of different main characters in different eras. Unlike the original, this game plays much more like a traditional JRPG. It is huge world with a lot of text and a lot of story. You explore an overworld map, fight battles, and progress the story. You equip yourself, you choose your party members, you choose your battle formations, you can switch classes, and you can look for secrets.

How does the overworld map work? You wander around and any leveling you do contributes to your "global level." Grinding this way is slow, but you do get unlimited dash. Grinding isn't necessary to beat the main game at all. As you explore, you run into areas that lock you into a subarea and start a Half Minute Quest. Your starting level is your global level and the quest plays out a lot like a quest from the original game, in which you have thirty seconds to defeat an Evil Lord before they destroy the world. Sometimes you have to trigger certain events, like finding a key or building a bridge, in order to find and defeat the boss. You can pay a money hungry goddess to reset your thirty second timer. When you finish the quest, the barriers and time limit go away and you reset to your global level. And you continue on like you were playing a traditional JRPG.

The basic game mechanics are almost exactly like the first game, except that you can see your enemies. If you're at a much a higher level than the enemy, you won't be forced into a battle screen when you touch them... you'll just automatically win. The quests are still very creative in this game and there are lots of new gimmicks (hope you don't mind solving ice puzzles or dealing with flipped controls in 30 seconds...) Some of the quests feel really epic. It's a lot of fun.

In addition to the five part story mode, there are four other modes to play.
  1. Time Attack: You can replay the quests you've unlocked from story mode. You can freely set your equipment, party, and formation to go for a high score.
  2. Infinite Mode: You fight an infinite number of evil lords. You go through different maps and have to kill 10 evil lords that randomly spawn in the stage. After you beat ten, you move to a different stage and repeat ad infinitum.
  3. Romancing Maker (Map Editor): Make/Share your own quests. This is pretty well done and not too hard to use. You can search for, download, and play other people's quests. Most of the highly ranked quests are fun.
  4. Battle: Multiplayer mode, you compete with other people to defeat the evil lord first. There are eight different maps in this mode, but they're the same as the XBox Live maps.

The story is a lot richer this time around, but it still keeps its tongue-in-cheek tone. It is a continuation to the original Half Minute Hero story. It's actually a very satisfying continuation, especially considering it didn't even feel like there was much of a story to continue. A surprising amount of familiar faces show up again as villians, heroes, or both. This story has a lot more serious moments, but keeps its humor and playfulness. It's a great take on the huge RPGs of the SNES era.

The story mode follows three generations of heroes: Yuusha, Yushia, and Yuja. Yuusha is a play on the amnesiac, emo hero. He's even got one wing. He's captain of the royal forces on a special mission. Although he has a cold demeanor, he's a very caring guy. Yushia is a student of the Goddess school in a world ruled by the Empire. She's a bit naive and has to deal with a crazy escalating situation. Yuja is a brawn over brains kind of guy who's living in a post-apocalyptic type world that's been ruined by the gods. Each story mostly deals with saving the world within 30 seconds, but the overarching threat is different each time and each story has its own themes. Each of the heroes makes a contract with a Time Goddess who will reset time for them... for an increasingly high fee. Both main characters and supporting cast are pretty endearing.

As you can guess, this game addresses a lot of RPG tropes. You get lots of adventure, romance, betrayal, artifact collecting, and plot twists. There are evil empires, dark lords, time streams, and rivals to fight. You take on evil groups like the "Eight Elementals", "The Three Generals", the "Dark Time Goddess", and the "Venus Seven." The creators use a lot of cliches, but they use them knowingly. The story is a lot more coherently put together than the first game, but still keeps its quirky tone.


The graphics follow the original Half Minute Hero's retro look, although this time around, the style is much closer to 16-bit RPGs of the SNES era. If you like that look, you'll love the art. There are a ton of sprites and a ton of maps. Most of the main characters and villians have concept art you can collect in game. The concepts were drawn by different artists and it's fun to compare the concept to the actual sprite.

The music is once again done by The Alfee and it is awesome. It's really great. There are vocal songs this time too, which add a really epic feel.


I'm a huge Half Minute Hero fan and grew up playing SNES RPGs, so I really loved this game. It's not just more of the same, I'd say the developers took even bigger risks this time by trying to make a full length game. It feels like a loving, fast paced take on a great traditional RPG. I really wish this game would come out in English so I could understand it better.


Official Website
English Interview
Japanese Wiki Page
Full Playthrough Videos
Half Minute Hero Tumblr
Half Minute Hero 2 Translation Project

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