Joystiq hands-on: Hero for 30sec

Ever heard of 15 minutes of fame? Sure you have. But what about 30 seconds of being a hero? We've reported a bit on this oddly-named RPG known as Hero for 30sec (Yuusha 30), but its unique concept on short bursts of gameplay had left us baffled. How does this work? How does this translate into an engaging RPG experience? These were questions we've been wondering for quite some time now.

However, after having played it for ourselves this afternoon, we finally understand what the game is trying to achieve. Or, should we say, what one-fourth of the game is trying to achieve as Hero 30 still contains three other heroes and individual play-styles. The overall experience of the demo we've tried out is a refreshing, fast-paced take on the traditional J-RPG genre. If you like RPG exploration, but want to cut out the fat of boring random encounters and grinding, then this game might be for you.
If you've ever found yourself in the crowd that complains about how boring RPGs are because of endless grinding and annoying random battles, then you'll find no fault with this RPG. While Hero 30 does have both these elements, everything happens so fast that the tedium of these stat-gaining exercises becomes limited. How does that make sense? It will soon, keep reading.

This is how it works. You're brought to a strange land with an old-school, explorable world map (pictured above). Your little hero is then tasked to travel this land and save it from an evil overlord. Now, you may notice that 30-second timer at the top of the screen; this timer will countdown while you're on the world map. The objective of the game is to reach the overlord's lair and kill the bad guy before the timer runs out. If you don't make it, it's game over.

So how am I going to do all that in 30 seconds, you ask? Well, in truth, you're not limited to 30 seconds; you can extend time. The game does this in several ways. For example, in areas where there are friendlies like towns or castles, the timer will freeze. This allows you to freely talk to characters or buy items. Players can also buy back a full 30-second timer from Goddess statues in towns.

Speaking of buying stuff, you can buy equipment from stores in town or buy health back. You can replace your old sword or armor for better ones. The game auto-equips all goods so there is no messing around with menus whatsoever. That's the best part of this game: everything is automatic, even the manner in how you collect gold to pay for these items.

Yes, that means battles are automatic too. As your hero explores the world map, he'll encounter random beasts. The game then transitions to a battle screen like a traditional J-RPG, but unlike the tradition, these battles are automatically and swiftly played out by the AI. This, of course, sounds like it takes away an aspect of control from the player, but this really only just helps speed up the process. Your character is only capable of one thing anyway, and that's attack. The only influence on battles the player has is the option to flee, which can be done by holding down the X button.

Everything in battle is automated: from the damage you deal, to the damage you receive. And because of this, everything happens lightning fast. Leveling up is done in an instant, too. My stage results indicated that I reached level 20 in under four minutes. Since everything is all about speed, dying doesn't net a game over; it instead sets your character back to the beginning of the map with the timer still running and your attained level intact. Since you don't have much control over battles, the game makes up for it by giving you infinite retries until the timer runs out.

With almost everything in the game automated, the focus of the difficulty zones-in on utilizing limited resources smartly while racing the clock. You've only got so much time to collect gold to pay off the Goddess for more time (which the price thereof goes up by 100 after each purchase). This is necessary as it's impossible to take out the final boss without spending time "grinding" to get to a higher level. Overall, this micro-RPG is really breaking the mold here. We think you should definitely give this game a try. If you have a Japanese PSN account, you can download the demo off the Store right now.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.