An evil villain has learned the Spell of Destruction and is teaching it to all the other villains he can find so that one of them can get to end the world. Only your hero, with a little help from the Goddess of Time and some companions you meet along the way. But the spell only takes thirty seconds to cast, so you have to be very quick in order to stop the world from being destroyed. You’ll need to grow stronger to defeat the villains, however, so it’s a good thing that the landscape between you and the evil castle is full of monsters for you to defeat. Villagers will supply you with food and sometimes armor or weapons for a price, but really you should save as much of your gold as possible, because you’ll need it.
Each level in Half Minute Hero is it’s own game, only money and equipment will go with you from one quest to the other, you’ll start back at level one each time, which can be sort of a pain, though it fits with the fast paced play of the game. Once you defeat enough monsters to gain a certain level, then the game will let you know that you can go and defeat the boss monster. When you’re travelling around in the outside world, either to find wandering monsters to kill or to journey from one town to the next, the clock will run. When you go into a town, however, the clock stops and you can take your time talking to people or buying equipment or eating food to up your hit points after taking damage from monsters. If you run into a really nasty monster, you won’t always have the money to turn back time, but if you give the Goddess all your equipment she’ll do it anyway. This doesn’t work out well, as you need the equipment to fight the monsters, and most are too tough to take bare-handed.
Half Minute Hero was originally made for consoles, and even the PC version recommends using a controller instead of the keyboard, but once I figured out the keys I didn’t have too much of an issue. I did keep hitting the ‘enter’ key instead of ‘c’ to move the conversation forward, which is the key you use to skip to the end, but I eventually got that corrected by changing the keybindings, which was easy to find.
The clock can and will run down on you out in the world, but one of the benefits to having the Time Goddess on your side is that you can pray to her and reset the time back to 30 seconds, though it’ll cost you an ever-increasing amount of money to do so, because, after all, like the Goddess says “Time is money” and she really really likes money. This has two benefits for the player. It allows you to recover from the time spent in a lost battle, as long as you have the money of course, and it also lets you have the most time you can to defeat the main boss if you reset time right before you go to attack them.
The fun of Half Minute Hero is racing against the clock and seeing how much you can get done in how short a time. It also keeps you counting gold, so that you know how many times you can screw up and still be able to reset time. In the lower levels, I found you could only manage to reset once, because the monsters you encountered just didn’t drop enough money for you to do otherwise. There is some equipment to buy, but it’s all pretty expensive when you find it, though you could go back and get it later I guess. The missions in Half Minute Hero have basically the same gameplay: run between villages killing monsters and then go get the boss when you’re high enough level, but the scenarios are varied and interesting enough that you don’t get bored.