Half-Minute Hero (PSP) Interview
The PSP is home to several great role-playing games. But after spending some time playing Half-Minute Hero, we feel like the RPG style of old has finally shown up on Sony’s handheld. The game, which is set for release on UMD and as a digital download on Oct. 13, is the perfect title for the PSP, and seems like everything we’ve been looking for in a handheld RPG.
We recently had a chance to speak with the game’s producer, Kenichiro Takaki, about the game’s development. Below is a brief Q&A we did with Takaki. We assure PSP and RPG fans, this game is an extremely unique take on the genre, and definitely worth the money.
PSU: “How do you classify Half Minute Hero? It plays almost like an arcade game, but certainly has elements of classic RPGs.”
Takaki: “We have advertised it as a ‘Supersonic RPG’ so we maintain that we were developing an RPG title, but to provide smooth gameplay we included elements from action, puzzles, and even racing games to keep the users guessing.
“So in that sense it may be a bit difficult to say just what exactly the genre of this title is.
“When I was a student, I spent much more time at the arcades rather than playing games at home, so I always make sure a single playthrough using a single coin/token can still be very enjoyable.”
PSU: “There's a fair amount of comedy in the game, was this intended to create a lighter experience than typical heavy RPGs?”
Takaki: “Having an involving story can be good too, but we tried to create a game that can give you a sense of accomplishment in a very short amount of time. I made sure that the story was easy to understand and that it didn’t keep dragging on.
“In Hero 30 mode the motive for the player to fight is clear as all the enemies in the game are monsters.”
“By keeping the story elements simple and straight-forward it leaves an impression on the player, giving an even larger impact when they finally arrive at the last stage.”
PSU: “The idea of 30 seconds per level is very interesting, and it's a great concept for the 'on-the-go' capabilities of the PSP. In developing the game, were you pushing for fast experience because you were developing it for the PSP?”
Takaki: “Something like that. I wanted to make a game that you can play when you have a little bit of free time and still have a sense of accomplishment.”
“But you know how there are lots of games that have systems, graphics, and sound that are just simple and not much more? It was actually quite difficult to fully utilize the PSP’s specs and include all the features I listed in the previous answer to create a deep experience overall, but I’m pleased with the end result.”
PSU: “What is the general concept behind Half Minute Hero, especially in regards to the 30 second time limit per level?”
Takaki: “The general concept is to ‘enjoy the contrasts.’
“Like how ‘you only get 30 seconds until you beat the game,’ ‘all the in-game characters are 8-bit sprites, but the hand drawn character designs are very elaborate,’ or ‘it looks like a generic 8-bit game, but the music is played by a symphony orchestra.’ That kind of thing.
“We included some other features outside of the actual game where you can enjoy these ‘contrasts.’
“For the game itself, we made it under the concept of ‘you can feel satisfied even if you play it in a short amount of time.’ Playing it for even longer will make it even more satisfying.
“Games in the RPG genre generally take about 50 hours to complete on average, but the concept of ‘an RPG you can beat in 30 minutes’ just sounds weak because it’s enough time to be almost plausible.
“That’s why if we say, ‘an RPG you can beat in 30 seconds,’ it gets a lot of attention because many people wonder if it’s really possible.
“We decided in the beginning that the game would have a retro feel to it. We started with an RPG but started including other genres while still sticking to the basic premise that it would be limited to ‘30 seconds,’ hoping that it would provide new kinds of excitement for the player.”
PSU: “Can you give me a bit of background on the development team side - previous tiles, perhaps how the original concept for Half Minute Hero was started?”
Takaki: “I’m currently on the publishing side, but I was formally a director at Opus Studio Inc., the developer of ‘Half-Minute Hero.’
“I work at another company now, but we still keep in touch. One day I was discussing with the staff members of Opus Studio Inc. on what new games to make. One of the ideas that were brought up was a game that ‘can be completed in 30 seconds.’
“We already had the concept of ‘a retro game you can beat in a short amount of time where you can enjoy great contrasts,’ so we quickly started up this project.
“Working with my former coworkers at Opus Studio Inc. made the process very smooth. We had to redo many parts but everyone worked very hard at it because we thought that this was for the sake of the players.
“I believe that their motivations and excitement are well reflected in the finished game.”
PSU: “Finally, are you planning for a sequel if the game sells well?”
Takaki: “I hope that this can lead to further developments into many other things.
“The staff members that created Half-Minute Hero are able to offer many new exciting things, so I hope everyone will enjoy the game so that this will allow us to bring more new things to the players.”