Title: The Longest 5 Minutes
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software/SYUPRO-DX (Planning)
Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software America
Release Date: February 13th, 2018 (NA)
Review copy provided by Nippon Ichi Software America
This is the next game by NIS on Switch following Disgaea 5 Complete and their localization of Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle. It’s an RPG with an 8-bit aesthetic that while it resembles JRPGs of old on the NES or Game Boy Color, there’s an interesting twist to the game, and that’s its story and how scenes are played out.
A town in the game
The Longest 5 Minutes starts out after the title screen, not in your home town… but at the final boss, the Demon King. You are named Flash Back (see what they did there?) and your three friends are all fighting the Demon King to save the world and blah blah blah. But there’s a problem… your character has amnesia, how unexpected in a JRPG! 😛 Only here, this is an actual factor and point of the whole game. See, your friends are trying to get you to remember your past and the events that had occurred throughout your adventure. You then start having… wait for it… flash backs! Each flash back is a chapter in the game that you play as normal, and it’s relatively standard JRPG fare from there (hey that rhymed). By the way these flash backs are all taking place in just 5 minutes in the present time, hence the title.
A look at the overworld where you can fight monsters
Upon your first flash back, you then do start in the more traditional being in your home town, gathering your friends, and venturing off. Your first task is to deliver a message to the king in the next town. You get there through an overhead map and that’s when you start having your first monster encounters. Now there’s a small problem that I suppose is in a chunk of JRPGs but I’ve found this more glaring here than usual; you take like a half hour of dialogue before you even get to fight a monster. This was baffling and honestly I wasn’t terribly thrilled about this. These scenes might have been more enjoyable here if the dialogue was in cutscenes like a movie with actual high-quality animation, but when it’s just wandering around listening to people chatter and whatnot, and with very low-res graphics, it gets a bit tiring honestly.
A battle against a Mischievous Wolf
Luckily, it seems that the team came up with a solution that’s not quite apparent at first glance; and that’s directing you to the right people to chat with. See, people of interest are marked with an exclamation point above their head (but sadly not to challenge you to a Pokemon battle), and you speak to them to get the ball rolling, such as receiving vital info, new quests, etc. You can just skip most of the other folks if you wish, so this is very important to know in advance so you don’t feel like you’re dragging your feet early on. Gotta thank Jenni at Siliconera in her preview of the game for pointing that out, read her post also, it’s better than this anyway lol! 😛
A look at the status menu, note the Restore option on the left side
So once you start fighting monsters, it’s your classic era Dragon Quest/Wizardry/etc. kind of gameplay; you have a row of monsters ranging from just one to sometimes five and you fight them in turn-based gameplay. If you’ve played a JRPG before, you know what to expect. One thing that REALLY threw me off guard, and this isn’t a good or bad thing per se, is that while you can heal your party using Flash’s Life Up magic ability… the game’s menu features a “Restore” option… that heals the entire party’s health, to max, for free. This feels bizarrely broken and I don’t know why this is available. I did not see any drawbacks from it; no cash loss, no MP loss, no experience lost, nothing. You can abuse this ’til the cows come home. It’s certainly handy, just do it after each fight, you can do that.
A look at Flash’s stats
After each chapter is complete, you’re graded on what tasks you’ve done, and get extra experience upon the completion of each. Some are done optionally (I missed one when I realized I could skip the optional people). So if you want some extra experience, then that can encourage you to talk to more people, but I’d advise against it if you just want to move on ahead.
A look at the Main Menu, accessed by pressing Y during gameplay
Once the chapter’s done, you’re bumped back to the fight with the Demon King and each time Flash gets a screen going “That’s right! I remember!”. At times during these Demon King cutscenes, you get to choose an action and different things happen depending on your choice. It’s a nice dynamic that you can choose to defend your friend in trouble or just back away. Finally, a key feature is like in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you can go back to previous scenes are restart from there, but you literally warp back and redo your progress from there, LUCKILY, there are multiple save files so you can just keep your prior save file, and make a new one with this redone one.
One of the choices you can make during your encounter with the Demon King
Overall, the game is alright, but I have to be one of those people who feel that the game could have easily had been an indie game and priced as one (remember that this is a retail release priced at $54.99 CDN!). I do highly applaud Nippon Ichi for making it a retail game for the option, but here’s the thing, games like Circle Ent. and Rideon Japan’s Mercenaries Saga Chronicles exists where that’s three SRPG games in one, and is better looking visually (looking more 16-bit inspired), and of course is cheaper, being an eShop-only release. It’s only natural that these kinds of comparisons would be made. The game’s good, but I feel folks will have a hard time looking past this bit, BUT that doesn’t stop folks from legit enjoying it and feeling it’s well worth the asking price. I don’t normally play these kinds of games soooo…. what do I know? 😛 Funny enough, I think one word describes this remarkably well and very ironically at that; unmemorable. It doesn’t feel like something I’ll go back to at all if I’m honest. My advice is to watch some footage and see if it’s right up your ally.
+ It’s easy to get into and simple to follow.
+ I did like a couple of the music tracks in the game (the one in the first major town caught my ear).
+ The main cast is interesting. I actually liked the Demon King, who bizarrely reminds me of Megabyte’s redesign in ReBoot: The Guardian Code’s first poster, huh.
+ The redo function can come in handy, especially with multiple save files.
+ The Restore ability is very nice to have, but…
– … the Restore ability kind of breaks the game, since there are no drawbacks to using it. Just fight and heal, over and over again.
– The 8-bit graphics can draw people in or be unappealing depending if you love the style or not. Me, I am personally tired of it personally.
– The game froze once upon the last hit in a battle, so save very often so you don’t risk losing progress.
– The price is a biggie, literally. I honestly feel this easily could’ve been $10-$15 on the eShop if it was by an indie team. $54.99 CDN is really asking a lot. $20 USD/$30 CDN would be the sweet spot in my opinion for this as a retail game.
– As warned, the game can take a while to start moving and get into the action.