Frozen Synapse: Beige (surprise?) Pencil me in for the tourney. Put me in coach, I’m ready to play.

I think I’ve officially run into an achievement worthy of being up there on my Hall of Fame alongside Bowley’s The Kid and Finished Super Meat Boy with Everything trophies: “Hero 3.”

Now I know some of you bad motha shut yo mouths have been playing Half Minute Hero because I can see your little black ghosts ghosting around the battlefield trying to beat my time as I play. This is all well and good but I noticed nobody on my friends list has yet to experience this sadistic little gem.

For those of you not in the know: Half Minute Hero simulates JRPGs in 30 seconds and does an excellent job of it. Once you finish the epic (?) storyline you launch into a very silly series of modes called things like “Dark Lord 30” (where you take a turn playing Sephiroth) and Hero 300, the “epic!” penultimate finale of the game where you have a full three hundred seconds in which this super-epic-quest-of-epicness plays out in an agonizing 5-minute long marathon of epic completeness and battle0rzing.

All this pales in comparison to the evil which is Hero 3 however – as nasty and punishing a piece of work as ever crawled out of the Demon’s Souls pits. As you might expect from the name there is only one catch to Hero 3: A Dark Lord must be defeated and you have but a 3 second time limit to do it in. Let me reiterate that: THREE SECONDS.

“How can you do a JRPG in three seconds??” you might ask. “How does that even WORK?” Answer: Brutally. The Dark Lord Final Boss himself is somewhere around level 25 or 30 and you start at level 1. You must grind, son, but you have three seconds to live outside of town before the world explodes in catastrophe.

Sometime — EVERY time — between 03:00 and 00:01 you must remember to slide into home plate at a nearby town and tag a goddess statue, paying the rewind time fee which naturally goes up each time you do it. Guess how fast the price skyrockets when you have to do this every three seconds? FAST.

I solved this last night but damn it took a while. Shades of The Kid and Meat Boy as I cut corners and squealed around each and every pixel, racing from town to town at full speed, cursing the random battle gods. Encounter an enemy at a place you weren’t expecting? Kiss your ass goodbye. Step one square beyond your destination (easily done with the 360’s shitty D-pad), DONE. Finito. Blam. It is the speedrun king of JRPGs.

The game is sadistic enough to not even let you rest on the (comfortable?) laurels of one battle per town outing! To beat Hero 3 you must have at least 2 battles between 3 second intervals on multiple occasions (esp. at the beginning) or the cost/time ratio will spiral out in front of you. You will watch as your item, armor and weapon budgets evaporate into just pachinko slot dumps for your rapid time rewinding program.

I can’t really do justice to how insane this actually is in practice. All I can say is that when I finally defeated the Dark Lord (level 30?) my hero’s time on the clock read 56 seconds and change. This is however 56 seconds of frantic, error-free, no mistakes driven flat-out sprinting that I’d repeated so many times (hours!) that I was like some kind of time rewinding robot. Before I set out I would have laughed in your face if you’d told me that my strategy would hinge MULTIPLE TIMES on sliding through opportunity windows less than .2 of a second wide. Seriously, by the end 0.15 secs feels like a fucking eternity of time. Like you could walk through it strolling and smoking a cigar.

Anyway, that’s that. Tongiht I will check out Ms. Splosion Man and report back.

@Shingro you know they were already forced to tone down the difficulty for the English speaking public, right?
http://www.joystiq.com/2011/02/21/atlus-toning-down-catherines-difficulty-with-upcoming-patch/

So stoked for Cathy.