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60 seconds to save the world!

Today I played "Ace Heroes", a RPG Maker VX Ace game by TheRealDMac.
Ok, from the pictures I expected a good old classic RPG Maker VX Ace jrpg adventure, and here I was right, then I read that this was an event game made for the 2014 RM Venture that can be completed in less than an hour but provides the possibility to grind, like many other classic rpgmaker games.
No, wrong!

I mean, I was looking for a short game to play, so I was totally fine with the "play a game that lasts less than one hour", but here the concept is a bit different: you HAVE one hour to save the world, otherwise it's the end.

I hope NOT! All these dialogues are wasting the precious time I need to save the world!

Yes, the description of the game was in fact a bit misleading: "the last dungeon provides ample grinding opportunity" may be true, but grinding requires time, and here it's not that we've much to spare considering that the final countdown does not even spot while I've to read the dialogues! And this means that speed reading is a valuable skill that the player must possess, since the dialogues will almost always give hints about the next mandatory task (a good thing that at least we've clear diections about what we're supposed to do and where we're supposed to go). So skipping dialogues is good as long as you know what you have to do next!

The game includes both random encounters and wandering enemies, and clearly there are also obligatory boss fights but there are also some quests (like collecting adamantium) we must complete to progress. Ok, it's a pretty short game, but the sense of urgency is always present. This means that the player is probably going to ignore most extra optional tasks or any kind of interaction with the game world, because, as you can expect “ain't nobody got time for that”.

BAMM! I like combat, but the one immediately after this secondary boss fight is absolutely horrible. Trust me, you'll remember that part!

In fact you may expect simple dungeons, but nope! These locations are all maze-like locations that would be otherwise fine in a game that lets me take my own pacing, the castle is an especially awful labyrinth even if the worst part is the battle against the evil adventurers that I'm pretty sure they're going to destroy anyone's party: most battles sees in fact our team outnumbering the opposition, here instead there are four opponents: two dark mages that can nuke the party with group attack spells, a deadly warrior with single powerful attacks and a succubus that heal all of them with a snap of the fingers! And they're also faster. Sigh. I hated them! Consider also that you have no possibility to customize the party and the idea to grind and/or get new and more powerful items is hindered by the time running out!

The story of the game start interesting, then becomes... meh! Well probably that's due to the fact I had to skip most dialogues because the timer give us no quarter (but I like the fact that for this reason the inn is a magical inn where resting takes one second. Pity that for the same reason the price is outrageous!), or maybe because despite the banal premise the game involves lots of various characters, heroes of the past, heroes of the present, etc... it's a bit confusing.

Finally the graphics that are ptobably the best aspect of the game: it's an Rtp-only game, but you can't o wrong with these and the use is pretty much good, except for those dungeons that could have been shorter and simpler (or at least have a secondary exit or a teleport back to the exit, since it's also obligatory to backtrack to the entry point) since I absolutely hated them! For the rest the places are adequate, except for some bizarre choices, for example the inn has a table that's almost identical to the nearby wall, and Noah's house has the floor made of...stairs! Ok, not that these are errors but they makes those locations a bit odd!

Do not wast time to talk with those people or even try to interact with anything not related to the mission... it's only a waste of precious time!

Final Verdict
"Ace Heroes" is an interesting idea, unfortunately the final result is not exactly pleasant to play. I enjoyed many games about epic quests that took just 35-45 minutes to complete, and if they had a one-hour time limit, I would haven't noticed that. The problem is that here there are actually too many things to do between mandatory and optional tasks, exploration of mazes and even dialogues, not to mention that the idea of grinding is not so thrilling, considering you've to speed through the game because you will never know how much time you will spend for the next task! The good thing is that you can save anywhere and anytime, so sometimes save-scumming to repeat a part in less time (hoping to run away from combat on the first try) can be helpful.

It's a pity because I really would have liked to enjoy this game, but the structure took away the joy to explore the world. I mean if only there were some puzzles to skip the dungeons or some ways to earn more time (or at least stop the time during dialogues!), it would have made the game more varied and feel it less than a chore.
What a pity!