In Half-Minute Hero, choose between four modes of accelerated gameplay, each complete with original quests, enemies and attacks. Battles are either random, real-time encounters with monsters, evil lords and bosses, or stage related encounters. There are 50 stages in Hero 30 Mode and 30 stages in all other modes, in which players have 30 seconds, or a half-minute, to complete their tasks before joining forces with the other past and future legends to fight together in the legendary Hero 300.
WP: Who has the honor to speak with us? State your name, rank, and occupation!
I'm Jimmy Soga, and I'm the product manager for Half-Minute Hero.
WP: Tell us a little bit about the concept for Half-Minute Hero. How did playing every level in 30 seconds become a realistic game?
JS: (laughs) In the very beginning, it was actually a Flash game in Japan. The producer was looking for a new, quirky title that he wanted to put his hands on, and this just seemed like the perfect fit. Everything takes place in a 30-second interval, but usually RPGs are long and tedious — at least 30-40 hour games. We just wanted to cram that and make a fun game out of it.
WP: Tell us about the idea of going back to the 8-bit art style. In a day and age when everybody wants shiny, flashy and new, you're decidedly retro in the look and feel. Wasn't that a risk?
JS: It was sort of a risk, but at the same time, because so many of the games nowadays use their high-end engine and really cool graphics, there's no room for imagination. It's pretty much, "This is what we want you to look at." The producer really liked the idea of the old-school, 8-bit game where you have to imagine what you're playing. The imagination part was a really important part of this game, but at the same time, he made it a little quirky and put a little fun area into it. All the cut scenes are these really gorgeous, anime-style scenes, but the actual gameplay is 8-bit so you sort of have to use your imagination when you're playing the game.
WP: What about the different gameplay styles? Obviously Half-Minute Hero is a take on the old RPGs, but it's not all old RPG emulation. What styles of gameplay inspired the different levels in Half-Minute Hero?
JS: As you mentioned, there are actually four different types of modes. Hero 30 is the RPG part, so it's the 30-second RPG. There are also Evil Lord 30, Princess 30 and Knight 30. Evil Lord 30 is more like a real-time strategy game. You see the enemies coming and then you summon monsters that will be best to defeat those enemies. Princess 30 is a shooting game. You're allowed to be outside of the castle for 30 seconds, you go out, you fight them, you shoot all your arrows, and you try to come back within 30 seconds. Knight 30 is sort of like a King of the Hill type game. There's a sage that knows how to defeat all the monsters, and he needs 30 seconds to cast that spell. All these monsters will come and attack you, so you try your best to protect the sage, no matter what it takes.
WP: Is every level truly 30 seconds, or can you increase your time from level to level?
JS: It is 30-second intervals, but in the first stage of the game, you make a contract with the Goddess of Time. Every time you're running out of time, you can go to her statue and "buy" 30 seconds from her, so it'll reset the timer back to 30 seconds. The thing about the Goddess of Time is that she loves to save the world and she loves money because she loves clothes and jewelry. Every time you do it, you have to buy time off of her hand.
WP: All in all, how many individual levels are there in the game?
JS: For Hero 30, there are actually 50 stages, and there are 30 each for the other modes. After you finish all the stages, there's actually another mode that comes up where all the characters will get together and fight the epic battle. Altogether, you'll have about 20 hours of gameplay.
WP: Princesses, heroes and evil lords: What are some of the classic games that you guys looked to for inspiration in the game design? The hero holds a clock that looks somewhat like a Triforce, but aside from the obvious, what game styles did you try to emulate for the game?
JS: That would be more of a question for our producer, but he did mention that he really liked the old-school games like Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, the 8-bit RPGs and how much imagination he had as to what they would look like. Just looking at the box cover, you look at that, and throughout the whole game, you're imagining, "This is what I'm playing." That was the motivation that he wanted to put together.
WP: You've got 8-bit graphics. Are you going to have 8-bit music, or are we looking at something high-end and high-fidelity?
JS: For music, we actually asked one of the most famous guitarists in Japan. He's in a band called Alfee, and he's a well-known artist, and all the music in there is this rock-type techno music, so it's really out there. It's really quirky, but at the same time, it's really solid music, so I'm sure the player will enjoy listening to the game as well.
WP: Is there anything about the game that we haven't talked about that you wanted to add?
JS: It's coming out in mid-October, it'll come out in UMD for the old PSP and downloadable for the PSPgo. There's four-player Ad Hoc, so you get to play with four of your friends together. It's like Hero mode, but it's sort of like, "Who can defeat the evil lord the fastest?" You start out at the same place and then you try to level up as fast as possible and try to defeat one evil lord.
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