The Longest Five Minutes: a JRPG that starts at the final boss

The Longest Five Minutes

The Longest Five Minutes begins where most games end: the final boss. Plonked in front of an unholy baddie, the hero of this quaintly old-fashioned JRPG has only five minutes with which to pummel them off the face of the earth. It sounds like a pretty short game, but thanks to the awesome power of extended, time-dilating flashbacks, those five minutes are soon blown wide open. Essentially this is a standard-ish JRPG told out of order, and that’s a novel enough hook for me to look at the Steam page and not dismiss this retro-styled adventure out of hand. It helps that it’s the work of Disgaea developers Nippon Ichi.

One of my major issues with RPGs is the amount of padding shamelessly crammed in, and I feel like The Longest Five Minutes’ chronologically tricksy premise is the perfect opportunity to chuck a lot of that away. Starting at the final boss, conversations between the amnesiac hero and his companions (and the big monster you’re all duffing up) give way to self-contained flashback segments, retelling key moments from the hero’s journey, but without feeling the need to cover every insignificant hamlet he visited along the way.

The Longest Five Minutes 2

However, aside from the clever framing, it doesn’t sound too revolutionary. A JRPG boasting top-down exploration, peppered with random, turn-based battles and a trio of minigames. So if you’re expecting something highly inventive like Half-Minute Hero, or something eminently replayable like the underrated JRPG roguelike One Way Heroics, you may be in for disappointment.

Either way, The Longest Five Minutes is now available on Steam, for the slightly surprising price of $39.99/£39.99 (love that exchange rate), albeit with a 10% launch discount bringing it down to $35.99/£35.99 for the next few days.

16 Comments

  1. BooleanBob says:

    I think amnesia has to be my least favourite plot device. Is there anything less charismatic than a hero who has no sense of themselves?

    • ThePuzzler says:

      It has its advantages. By giving you a blank slate, the player and protagonist start the game in the same situation. It’s a bit like the silent protagonist in a FPS; instead of creating a memorable character, you are the character and the character is you.

      (Not to say that it hasn’t been heavily overused, of course…)

      • itsbenderingtime says:

        In a fantasy-type setting, the protagonist would be expected to know the world intimately (having lived there his or her entire life), but the player will know nothing. Amnesia is a solution to the problem of the protagonist (under control of the player) wandering around acting like an idiot, not knowing anything about what should be second nature to him or her. It also allows for exposition and context to be relayed to the player through the protagonist.

        It’d be great if someone smarter than me could come up with a more elegant solution to that.

        • BooleanBob says:

          I agree with you both; it does solve all those problems quite neatly. If anything it solves them too well: hence the proliferation of amnesiac protagonists, stoically bland at best, wearisomely (if understandably) angsty at worst.

          I’d prefer to suspend disbelief over a few incongruences during a character’s introduction to a world they already inhabit than have their personality (and often the game’s plot) beholden to the workaround.

        • perilisk says:

          I wouldn’t exactly call it “more elegant”, but the Ultima series always had the protagonist as an earthling teleported to Britannia (or wherever). Which made the intro to U7 pretty meta.

    • Einherje says:

      Here you go. Thank me later.

  2. NuclearSword says:

    That’s an unbelievable price for this, jeez louise. NIS may be able to charge premium prices for their niche games on the PS Vita (and Switch now) thanks to having a captive, desperate audience for games in the absence of major (or even mid-tier) releases, but on Steam that’s ludicrous.

    Ara Fell is $9.99. Shadows of Adam and Cosmic Star Heroine are $14.99. Crosscode is $19.99.

    The Longest Five Minutes thinks it can get away with $40?!

    It’s admittedly got that interesting hook, but c’mon… it’s not “worth $20+ more over competing faux retro RPGs (with better presentation) on Steam”-interesting. Get outta here, you :P

    • Mokinokaro says:

      The price is probably that way due to consoles (primarily the Switch where most titles seem to get super inflated prices.)

      • Yglorba says:

        That would be my guess. Steam is not their primary market, so they don’t really care if it sells poorly there and are terrified of undercutting their console versions.

    • Eightball says:

      Yeah really, I thought this was going to be a free browser game from the way RPS described it.

    • jrodman says:

      There’s also a thing where in Japanese business culture, low prices suggest bad product. Some of the larger studios have adapted. Nippon Ichi is a very niche play though.

  3. Ur-Quan says:

    Damn I was really looking forward to this.
    Old school JRPG with Earthbound like graphics and kinda interesting plot hook? Yes please! But 40 Euro???? For this? No thanks.

  4. geldonyetich says:

    So it’s about a 5 minute battle being stretched out to be a $40 game?

    Confirmed Dragonball Z simulator 2018.

  5. Nixitur says:

    Hmmm, this reminds me of an old RPG Maker game that I’ve played ages ago. It also had the gimmick of the game constantly resetting which was woven into the story.
    I can’t recall the name at all. Does anyone know what I’m talking about?

  6. Hieronymusgoa says:

    I do have to say that all sounded interesting enough to try though the price has totally put me off O.o I’d pay 50% and give it a try.

  7. XVampireX says:

    Castlevania: Symphony of the Night starts from the last boss :D