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Developer: OPUS Publisher: MarvelousAQL Platform: PC (Steam) Release Date: April 4, 2014 ESRB: N/A (T suggested) Half Minute Hero was a game that came to PSP and quickly disappeared into obscurity in 2009. More recently, the upgraded Xbox 360 release graced Steam and a whole load of players got their first taste of the unusual JRPG. As such, MarvelousAQL published the sequel, Half Minute Hero: The Second Coming, exclusively on PC this month. Thanks to it, even more players are now being exposed to the unique title. Is this version the ideal starting off point for new players? Indeed, although existing fans will still find a lot enjoyable about this new romp as well. So, for the uninitiated, what“s Half Minute Hero all about? You assume the role of a young hero who is constantly opposed by evil lords. These monstrosities threaten to destroy everything - it only takes them 30 seconds to charge up their world-ending spell. Your task is to level up, equip strong items, and take down the enemy all before those 30 seconds are up. It sounds ridiculous and impossible until key gameplay aspects are revealed. The hero is not alone in his quest. At his side is the Time Goddess who is able to turn back time. By praying at a statue of her likeness (and paying an increasing fee) she will rest the 30 second timer. Her skills also make it so that leveling up is an incredibly expedient process. Unlike a traditional JRPG, you“ll see your level climb into double digits via only a minute of gameplay time. Once you“re strong enough to defeat a villainous foe, the game will alert you, making progression quite easy. Defeating enemies on the field also rewards the player with coins. Of course, if you intend to turn back the clock at all, you“ve got to collect enough to offer to the Time Goddess. If you want to outfit yourself with better gear then it“s also needed. It might seem like a pain but usually scrounging up enough money to buy every item and kill the boss is relatively easy to do. Overall, it seems like The Second Coming may be easier than the original game. With that said, the sequel takes care to inject interesting new missions to change up the standard â€œlevel up and destroy everythingâ€ directive. Those who played the previous incarnation will be sad to hear that there aren“t any extra gameplay modes beyond Hero. This means that you“ll continually be battling the clock in mostly the same fashion for mission after mission. Stages are changed up in ways that can force creative thinking, but the core mechanics themselves never change. If you try out the game and aren“t particularly enthused with it at the start then it“s likely the rest of the experience will be terribly dull to you. It“s a shame that Princess, Knight, or Evil Lord modes couldn“t make a comeback. The Second Coming is a surprisingly long game, with an amusing (if somewhat trite) storyline to go along with it. There is a fair amount of replayability too if you wish to hone your skills on past stages or purchase every item. Steam Workshop support is even included, which allows users to make their own quests for other players to download. As with many community-sourced endeavors, not every map is a winner but some are quite fun. Fans will be relieved to know that this game also retains its attractive pixel aesthetic. The bright, colorful graphics look cute. Enemies can also be a bit silly as you battle against snowmen, macaroni penguins, and other creatures. The writing fits in well with the silly visual aesthetic by harping on the Time Goddess“ obsession with money, a certain evil god“s love of everything beautiful, and other oddities. Half Minute Hero: The Second Coming is a fun, if exhausting, experience. Getting a reign on the whole 30 second thing can be challenging until you learn the ropes. Then, the game loves to throw surprisingly tough challenges just to keep players on their feet. The whole package is a great deal of fun and offers many hours of playtime. However, the biggest issue is that some people just don“t like the compartmentalized JRPG gameplay all that much. If it sounds fun to you then you“ll likely find Half Minute Hero: The Second Coming an enthralling experience in a matter of seconds. Pros: + Quirky, innovative gameplay style + Quests are kept fresh with differing strategies and goals + Tons of stages and reasons to replay Cons: - Lack of alternate gameplay modes - Frantic pace of game is quite tiring Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great Half Minute Hero: The Second Coming is a gloriously quirky JRPG that must be played to be believed. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Steam code provided by the publisher.