The Switch has quickly become my favourite gaming console; it’s not only a platform for exclusive first party titles, but it has become a safe haven for Indie titles to shine under the right spotlight. Quickly Indies are outselling their previous sales within a few days of being on the switch..! Today I have brought another indie title to the table for your enjoyment; The Longest Five Minutes…
The Longest Five Minutes is the latest title from Nippon Ichi Software and is being released for the Nintendo Switch, Vita and Steam. It sort of sounds like your typical Indie release, however this one is being sold for £39.99 on the eShop. While I won’t let this price form a bias regarding my experience with the game, it will affect my recommendation as an end-consumer, so be aware of that.
The Longest Five Minutes is a pixel art styled JRPG, calling back to some early Final Fantasy days, and fitting with the beautiful NES aesthetic that lots of people have grown up with. The main character, ironically called Flash Back, is in the middle of a final boss battle with a Demon King; he has forgotten everything about the journey that has brought him here, and he has five minutes to remember the entire game – So in that regard, the game takes place over a span of five minutes, however you will go through and relive the memories that brought Flash to the Demon King, and you can even make decisions that will directly influence the fight with the Demon King, much like similar games like Half Minute Hero.
The actual battle system feels more like a rap battle as you use dialogue to progress the story, all while the timer ticks away how much time you’ve got left, almost serving as an indicator as to how far in the story you are. However through these Five minutes you must relive all the memories of your adventure. Each chapter in the game is another memory that takes place before the fight, they might not be presented chronologically but they will remain simple and easy to follow narratively.
Within these memories you will always have a main objective to progress the story and move to the next memory, but there are also some smaller side quests that are generally there to get you more EXP. Experience Points are the only thing that you feel a sense of progression with, as it’s the only thing you actually earn. When you enter a memory you are provided with a pre-determined set of equipment which is more than enough to pus through the chapter with ease. Nothing carries over, this is probably due to the fact the memories aren’t chronologically, so they’re giving you a balanced set of tools for how far into the adventure the memory is.
This for me feels like it strips away an element of the game, as earning rewards and progression is a key hook for a lot of people. With this system in place it feels more like a narrative game with some gameplay to move it along a linear path; the problem with this is that the gameplay then becomes incredibly simplistic as you could probably predict it has an attack, defence and magic option. I wish there was a lot going on with the past chapters, you are able to use a chapter select menu to go back and grind memories for XP to use in the later stages of the game, but something else to make battles more interesting would be preferred.
To give some credit to the game it does have quite a charming soundtrack, you are greeting by a peaceful piano melody that sets the tone pretty much immediately – The rest of the game presents some interesting tracks that would be nice to listen to in general rather than just the context of the game. The main concept game is also really interesting and hooks you in as a player, while it is taking place over 5 minutes, you are likely to get 10 hours+ out of the game before you’re at a state of completion. That’s if also if you’re someone who likes to go back and explore every possible interaction with the Demon King after changing around certain elements.
Now we return to that first point I made about the price. At £40 it’s not a cheap investment and almost at the same price as a major title like Skyrim, Mario and LA Noire. This means that you have to carefully consider what you think value is in a video game. If you’re a fan of old fashioned JRPG’s with a thirst for the genre then this will probably be for you, you’re likely to get some good time out of this and it’s even better if you’re someone who likes to replay games for different experiences. But you have to remember that you are paying for the narrative here rather than an interesting gameplay experience and will stick in the “what i’m used to” category of games.
If you are someone who is casually looking for new games and not a fan of games like Earthbound, Half Minute Hero and Final Fantasy then I wouldn’t recommend this game for you, at least not at it’s current price. I’m not going to be unfair and compare it to other Nindies at a cheaper price, but I will say that this is not the value you are looking for in a £40 game on the switch.
The Longest Five Minutes delivers an interesting concept with an equally pleasant soundtrack, unfortunately at the end of the day it’s a very simple game that will only appeal to a very niche group of people, boiling down JRPG mechanics down to a very standard and unoriginal experience, especially with a steep price of £40 making the buying decision even harder to justify.
I score the game a 5.5/10