"...rather than improve on the game, Super Mega Neo Climax falls completely flat and is probably one of the most disappointing ports of a game to Xbox Live Arcade ever made."
Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax. Quite the bloated title for a port of a much loved PSP game brought over to the Xbox Live Arcade. With a title like that and a change from a portable system to a home console, one would expect a myriad of changes, improvements, and expanded gameplay. I am here to report that, rather than improve on the game, Super Mega Neo Climax falls completely flat and is probably one of the most disappointing ports of a game to Xbox Live Arcade ever made. Not only does it not add much of anything to the core game, it actually takes away the other game modes (Evil Lord 30, Princess 30, and Knight 30). For those unfamiliar with Half-Minute Hero, I will give a quick overview: the original game consisted of four central game modes that took place in different time periods and starred different characters. The original Hero 30 mimicked a traditional retro JRPG, Evil Lord 30 was a light strategy game, Princess 30 was a shooting game, and Knight 30 was similar to a defense game. These four modes each had a reasonable amount of levels and added to the variety of the game and the development of the characters. The number one problem with Super Mega Neo Climax is that Evil Lord 30, Princess 30, and Knight 30 are removed as separate game types and replaced with ONE LEVEL in the style of Hero 30 with their respective characters. This is a disgrace to the original game which I will detail more later.
Now that the central travesty of Super Mega Neo Climax has been revealed, let us discuss the other areas of the game. The story, which is mostly developed in the Hero 30 mode, is actually not entirely uninteresting for a parody-filled, light game like Half-Minute Hero. Essentially, each level in Hero 30 is its own "game" with the hero challenging an evil lord boss intent on casting a spell that will destroy the world in 30 seconds. With the costly help of the time-reversing powers of the Goddess of Time, the hero is able to manipulate time to level up, procure gear and allies, and ultimately challenge the boss of the level. As the hero and the goddess travel through the land from continent to continent, however, a shady character named Noire is always one step ahead of them, teaching the spell of destruction to new evil lords in the hope of resurrecting the Ultimate Evil Lord. After Hero 30 the timeline continues with the now-brief stories in Evil Lord 30, Princess 30, and Knight 30 leading up to a final confrontation hundreds of years later to finish the battle between good and evil. Though the story in and of itself may sound fairly bland, it is supplemented with witty and funny dialogue that draws from all manner of retro RPG tropes. Unfortunately, much of the dialogue from the original game is cut out due to the reduced size of the other three modes.
The gameplay in Hero 30 is the same as in the original PSP game. Hero 30 plays more like a puzzle game with an RPG overlay and theme. Essentially, you run around getting into random battles that last no more than a few seconds, leveling up quickly, buying equipment from the local shops, and collecting information or performing tasks for villagers. Then, when the timer gets low, you have to spend an ever-increasing amount of gold to turn the clock back to 30 seconds. Eventually, when you are strong enough and have good equipment or allies, you can challenge the final boss of the level. The game runs just as smoothly as it ever did and still retains the charm of cramming the experience of a classic JRPG in a short time frame. Each level and boss often has a different theme or twist which keeps you guessing the first time through. For increased replayability, completionists can attempt to obtain titles for each level by performing special tasks, or compete for record times on the leaderboards.
Now we come to the bad parts. As mentioned above, the three other game modes have been completely removed in favor of one level with each of the title characters about twice the size of a single Hero 30 level. These levels are slightly more challenging and frustrating than their Hero 30 counterparts and fail to develop the characters at all when compared to the PSP version. This ultimately takes away from the experience of the final confrontation using all of the characters in the game’s finale since you do not really care about any of them, given that you played with them for maybe two minutes. To make matters worse for this debacle of a port, the load times of the PSP version are still here in full, which can get annoying given how short the levels are. This isn't a huge problem, but just a minor annoyance that you'd expect would be cleared up for a port of the game.
The graphics are the only other thing that stand out about Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax. With this release came new "neo cartoon" (their name, not mine) graphics that are something of a cross between cel-shaded and a coloring book. Needless to say I am not fond of the way they look, though this may be a matter of opinion. More important than the mere visual appeal of them, however, is why anyone felt the game needed a graphical change. Given that Half-Minute Hero is mimicking classic RPGs of the past, the retro graphics were appropriate, as well as charming. Luckily, the main menu offers an option to change back to the retro graphics if you so desire. There’s just one problem – the game does not save your selection, which means that every time you boot up the game they revert to the neo cartoon graphics. The artists must have been quite proud of themselves on this one – let’s just hope the new graphics were not taking up the space of the scrapped game modes.
As for music and sound, they're exactly the same as the PSP original. The tunes are fitting enough and once again draw from old RPGs. Some of the pieces are catchy and they all provide an adequate backdrop for the game. The sound effects are standard, but can be a little grating given how many times you will hear your weapon smash against enemies. The controls are also nothing out of the ordinary and transferred over well from the PSP to the Xbox controller.
All in all, it has been quite frustrating to review Super Mega Neo Climax given how much I enjoyed the original Half-Minute Hero on the PSP. I have no idea why the developers would cut so much from a game that was already well-liked and enjoyable. Needless to say, fans of Half-Minute Hero should just stick to the original version. Scarcely anything new appears in the port. For those who haven't played the game, you are much better off seeking out the original, since Super Mega Neo Climax is just a disgrace.