The Longest Five Minutes is a role-playing game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS Vita. Nippon Ichi Software is synonymous with developing or publishing quality RPG franchises including Atelier, Disgaea, Persona, The Legend of Heroes and Ys, while becoming increasingly involved in standalone role-playing games such as Lost Dimension; therefore their partnership with developer Syupro-DX hopefully speaks volumes for the quality of The Longest Five Minutes gameplay. Can The Longest Five Minutes deliver the most unique and engaging RPG not just on Vita, but of the entire RPG genre?
The story revolves around the lead character Flash heading on a quest to defeat the Demon King with the help of his friends, although something causes Flash to forget where he is, why he is battling the Demon King and a lot about himself as his friends desperately attempt to make Flash remember; therefore resulting in the unique premise of starting the story at the climax before having flashbacks to the beginning of their quest and their progression towards reaching the Demon King counting up from 0 seconds to 5 minutes.
Beyond Flash’s main quest; there are also side quests such as helping a group of four soldiers located in King Stockwood’s castle in establishing who has a certain soldier’s spear from hearing each of their testimonies and using logical deduction to come to the correct conclusion.
Character design is quite varied as Flash and his friends Clover, Regent and Yuzu, their families and people you meet and greet throughout the village, town and throughout your quest have unique looks in their respective personalities, styles and clothing. Enemy design also has a significant quantity of variation as Flash and his friends will not just be doing battle with the rather ominous looking Demon King. There are a vast amount of enemies that appear from very early on into the quest that look akin to their respective names including Crazy Train, Rough Minecart, Rush Mouse, Spring Pig, Dirt Moai, Bad Shroom, Green Poyoshi, Gulp Bat, Nyantoryu, Bighead Dragon, Fountain Turtle, Because Barrel, Clumsy Goblin, Timid Wine, Fall Pig, Sommelier Ex Machina, Smash Mouse, Grabber Grouper and many more besides.
Environment design positively adds to the scale of the adventure due to its environmental diversity including the Demon King’s lair; a village named Souvenir that Flash and his friends and family live in; a town called Stockwood containing stores, an inn, a bar, a grand castle housing the king of Stockwood and a railroad; caves; ports; Gastonbury; and much more besides. An important element of environment design increases atmosphere as enemies lurk in the fog that has gripped certain locations before making their presence felt upon Flash and his fellow heroes.
Battles occur upon encountering enemies such as Crazy Train as Flash and his friends are travelling on the railroad train. Battles allow the player to assign a role to each of the four heroes by attacking the enemy or using magic, an automatic move, using an item to regain health, guarding or running. However, battles are not always against a single enemy as there are many occasions in which you will encounter two, three or four enemies at once.
Flash, Clover, Regent and Yuzu each have their own unique loadouts of weapons such as elemental magic and swords, alongside armour, healing remedies and statistic enhancing items. Upon entering the town, there are two stores that provide the player with the opportunity to purchase or sell a variety of items at varying prices of the in-game currency referred to as G that is earned by defeating enemies in battle. Items include herbs for 30 G that recovers a small amount of HP, magical water for 200 G that recovers a small amount of MP, an antitode for 40 G that heals poison and even some items that increases defence power or a certain elemental magic power such as fire, water or lightning that start from 100 G in price. Meanwhile, a second store focuses on buying and selling armour and weapons including leather armour with a defence power of 40 for a cost of 150 G or magic armour with a defence power of 56 that has a much steeper price of 3,000 G, alongside a metal sword that improves Flash’s attack power from 35 to 45 for a price of 300 G and more besides. In addition to being purchased; weapons and armour can also be found in treasure chests and vases.
EXP is earned by completing objectives such as 50 EXP for greeting specific characters in the village before setting out on Flash’s journey, alongside the capability of earning EXP by defeating enemies in battle. Earning EXP is essential as it gradually improves Flash’s recollection of memories referred to as a reexperience level for each occasion the player is able to level up. Further benefits from levelling up includes enhanced statistics in almost every character’s attributes such as maximum HP and MP, strength, magic, defence, agility and luck.
The controls are appropriately mapped to the Vita with the control scheme consisting of pressing X to confirm, talk or interact with a person or object; pressing O to cancel, dash, close menu or participate in an auto battle; pressing triangle to open main menu; pressing square to open RPG menu; pressing L to display world map, equipment or party info; pressing R to display quest info, equipment or party info; pressing start to open quick save menu; and changing the direction of the left analogue stick or alternatively pressing up, down, left or right on the d-pad to move Flash and his friends or manoeuvre the cursor before selecting an item to purchase or sell and a form of attack in battle. There is no touch screen or rear touch pad implementation which would have been relative alternatives to the left analogue stick and d-pad controls.
Graphically, The Longest Five Minutes is reminiscent to retro Pokemon and Zelda games with top-down exploration and side on battles. Characters and enemies all look excellent as do the environments in their retro influenced aesthetic.
The Longest Five Minutes’ presentation is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, pause menus and various gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick, touch screen and rear touch pad. Menu backgrounds focus on the four heroes standing opposite from a giant castle as the fog covers nearby surroundings amongst the night sky.
There are no voice-overs as conversation dialogue is displayed in retro-esque captions. Sound effects include enemies appearing out of the fog, magic or weaponry striking enemies and vice versa and navigating through conversation dialogue and store menus. Slow, melodic piano ties in with the notion of recollecting memories of a life lived with more upbeat music when exploring the village before Flash’s quest begins and climactic music during the battle against the Demon King.
The trophy list includes 55 trophies with 50 bronze trophies, 2 silver trophies, 2 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. The vast majority of the trophy list revolves around achieving each objective within every level such as the Legendary Angel bronze trophy for shopping with Clover on level 29. Harder trophies include the Album Complete silver trophy for completing all memories as well as 1 silver trophy and 2 gold trophies for watching alternative endings. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 15 to 25 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are no difficulty levels, although the A.I. gradually becomes more difficult as enemies gain in their attack and defence powers as you progress through the environments; therefore requiring the player to level up the attack and defence statistics of the four heroes in order to continue to have a fighting chance against the much harder enemies in battle.
There is no local, ad-hoc or online multiplayer which does not detract from the gameplay at all, but it would have been a great feature to have the ability to halve the Vita’s controls in order to allow two players control separate characters in same screen co-operative multiplayer, while ad-hoc and online multiplayer could have supported four players in co-operative multiplayer. However, it would have been even more amazing to see a competitive multiplayer element in which enemies could have been controlled by another player or multiple players. There are no online leaderboards which could have displayed the fastest times in real-time set by each player for every completed objective, side quest and the entire quest.
The Longest Five Minutes’ replayability originates from the unique reexperience gameplay mechanic that completely changes up the story, alongside XP and levelling up, customisable loadouts containing magic, weaponry, armour and items, three different endings, three mini-games including super chain reaction, haunted run and slot machine and more besides that will collectively have players returning for many hours.
- Title: The Longest Five Minutes
- Developer: Syupro-DX
- Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software/NIS America
- System: PS Vita
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: No
- Cross-Play: No
- Players: 1
- Memory Card Space Required: 286MB