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The Longest Five Minutes review

The Longest Five Minutes
I don’t really have much to say for an intro here. It looked interesting, it’s developed by NIS, it’s a pixelated-style oldschool-style RPG, and it has a pretty interesting premise. So I checked it out.

Read on and see if it’s good!

Developer: Nippon Ichi Software (and some sites list Syupro-DX as devs as well, this is the only game to their credit)
Publisher: NIS America
Date of Release: February 13th 2018
Platform: Switch, Vita, PC (Switch version reviewed)
Genre: Console-style RPG

Rated T for Teen

Presentation

This features what some people would call “8-bit sprites” (which isn’t entirely correct). The sprites are fairly small and fairly simple, but they look good and are surprisingly expressive. The environments are a bit more on the boring side, they look like tilesets you would’ve seen in many other RPGs before. Some areas are REALLY bad (like the Death Beach (which has a ton of screens that are completely indistinguishable from each other)), but in general they’re just kinda okay. The best part of the graphics in my mind is the enemy sprites in battle. You get battle screens that are almost a copy of Earthbound’s. No seriously it’s the same battle screen, minus the wacky backgrounds. The enemy sprites are usually wacky-looking animals or objects that are possessed by demons. All of them look pretty much as you’d expect from enemies in Earthbound. A bit derivative design-wise but it looks good.

Not much to say about the audio. The sound effects are classic RPG stuff, the music is pretty decent too.

You play as the hero in this world, Flash Back, and HERE’S THE FINAL BOSS! However Flash doesn’t remember how he even got there, or who the people he’s with are, or even who he is. So as the battle goes, second by second, he needs to remember everything. The battle is basically given a 5 minutes time limit, but as you flashback to Flash’s past you go through his original adventures at normal speed. Starting village, going to different castles and towns, going to dungeons, fighting demons, Flash has to remember everything that happened so that he can actually fight the Demon King. There’s a lot of events here, and cutaways back to the battle, where time passes every few lines of dialogue, and the flashbacks tend to enable Flash to figure out what he’s supposed to do in the battle against the Demon King.

It’s a pretty generic story, with very simplistic writing, but it still has some pretty cool moments, and a couple twists. Not bad, not amazing, but it works with the concept.

Gameplay

This is a pretty standard RPG, nothing you haven’t really seen in other RPGs. Outside of battle you walk on an overworld or in dungeons or in towns. There’s invisible random battles as per genre tradition. In battle you have a menu for each character, you choose commands for each of them, then the attacks go, usually in order of the speed stats for each enemy and character. Commands can be spells (in Attack, Healing and Support categories), attacks, using items, defending and running. If you’ve played pretty much any turn-based RPG you know how this works.

Outside of battle is where the game separates itself from others. Each flashback in-between going back to the 5 minutes of the final boss battle is kind of a self-contained chapter. You can explore the world a bit (though that’s generally fairly pointless), and if you go to the menu and press R you can see 1-3 objectives you can do. One of them is the main objective of the chapter, the others are basically side-quests. These side-quests give you experience points, so they’re pretty worth doing. Some might be fetch quests, some are getting high scores in mini-games (speaking of derivative, one of the minigames is taken straight up from the Game Boy minigame in Super Mario RPG, but koopa shells are replaced with prinnies). I skipped I think 3 of them. One of them had an item I couldn’t find, one of them was getting something specific in a slot machine (which I didn’t care about doing, even if you can control the result I’m not really into trying to get 5 near frame-perfect inputs in a row).

Leveling up levels up all your characters at once, so you don’t need to worry if a character is taken out of your party for some reason in the story. One thing I didn’t fully understand is the “true level” number that is shown on every chapter. I was always far below it. Maybe it’s nothing, maybe there’s a reason to keep up. Who knows.

And that’s about it. It’s as simple as RPGs go.

Oh and quick note, the game did crash for me once, during an entirely normal random battle. Weird.

Overall

The Longest 5 Minutes has a fun premise, where you’re already at the final boss, but to even be able to fight him, during the battle you have to recall your adventures. This leads to making choices, learning different moves, and leveling up.

What’s unclear to me is how your choices affect the ending (except for the literal last choice in the game, which does lead to different endings (one of them is a bad ending, the other is a good ending)). There’s lots of choices throughout the game, I don’t know if any of them even matter. There’s 3 in particular I do think might actually change the present if you choose something that you know isn’t the factually correct choice.

The gameplay itself is really really easy. I didn’t game over once, especially when you level up and you become pretty much impossible to kill (moreso when OP healing spells always go first regardless of the speed stats and you get a ton of MP).

Do I recommend this? Kinda, I guess. If it sound interesting to you. I wouldn’t say it’s a high recommendation.

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