Today we’re looking at The Longest Five Minutes for the Playstation Vita – a localization of a game previously only available in Japan. Now that it’s reached the west, it’s joined by Nintendo Switch and PC versions as well, though we only played the Playstation version of the game.
As the years have gone by, the percentage of NIS titles in my Vita library has only grown – it’s one of those publishers who have kept showing Sony’s handheld love through some quality titles, including some of the best out there. Just a few months ago, they were responsible for the release of Danganronpa 3, possibly my favorite handheld title of the past year. The Longest Five Minutes is nowhere near as ambitious and grand as that game, though it’s quite a bit longer than ‘five minutes’. An homage to classic 8-bit and 16-bit RPG games with a novel twist, it’s definitely worth a look.
In The Longest Five Minutes, the game actually starts near the end of your adventure. You’re facing off against the Demon King, but you find that you have no recollection of how you ended up there and who the people are that are fighting beside you. From there, the game’s story is told through a sequence of flashbacks that gradually paint the picture for you, and it’s more than just a story gimmick.
For me, a lot of JRPGs become less interesting as they take longer to complete. Progress starts to feel like a grind, with too much filler in between all the good bits. The Longest Five Minutes’ use of flashbacks is a great alternative to this – both in terms of serving up bite-sized chunks of gameplay and in terms of eliminating filler. What you gather in terms of loot and how you develop your characters within a flashback doesn’t matter – your experience in one of them is isolated from how you start the next flashback. Because there is no real (deep) progession system in place, this is never bothersome and I found it to be a breath of fresh air – you can level up, but flashbacks never feel inconsistent with each other despite the ‘restart’ your inventory gets each time.
Piecing together your own story is done by exploring dungeons and towns across a world map, and flashbacks can take as little as ten minutes to complete. There’s plenty of combat of the turn-based variety, though the combat system’s isn’t especially deep – almost the turn-based equivalent of a button masher, so to speak. Boss fights take a little more thought to successfully complete, but the game seems intent on keeping things moving and not having you stuck in a battle or story scenario for too long.
The art style is definitely retro-inspired, with many of the sprites looking like they came straight from the 8-bit NES era yet with a few element that look slightly more modern. This is especially true for the bigger enemies, who received better animation and more detail than NES hardware would have allowed. This wasn’t a distraction to me, but might rub purists the wrong way.
The Longest Five Minutes is a fun little “lite” RPG title for the Vita – for someone who finds many games in this genre daunting, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the game. The writing and visual presentation don’t stand out and I’m not sure the game warrants its current (high) asking price, but it’s definitely worth playing. The music is excellent and the retro flavor is there, albeit in a sleeker package you can get through in a manner of hours.