The amnesiac protagonist is a time-tested trope that can easily spark a great deal of debate. There are certainly good one out there. But there are likely just as many poorly handled ones. It can easily come across as an exceptionally lazy crutch used to facilitate pseudo character development. Often times the amnesia is little more than a plot device and is only necessary because the lead character would be entirely capable of dealing with the problem without it. The JRPG genre is littered with this trope. And it seems Nippon Ichi Software (NIS/NIS America) has taken notice. The game publisher revealed the release date and systems for their new title, The Longest 5 Minutes, centered entirely around this trope.
The trailer shows off a bit of the gameplay. It’s clear that the game is skewing retro, primarily utilizing 8-bit graphics, with the exception of a few instances. The gameplay itself is classic RPG style, harkening back to the earliest days of the genre. Of course, it’s only a teaser, meant to show features more than anything. But the wit is very apparent, right down to the main character’s name – “Flash Back.” Cute.
Turning this trope into a gameplay mechanic is also a brilliant idea. All at once it removes the trope’s danger of becoming a crutch while making it the entire point of the game. Players can probably expect the game to have a jolly time tap dancing on the fourth wall, as well. It’s pretty clear that the game has no intention of taking itself seriously.
The very concept of it approaches Undertale levels of meta. Players take control of a hero during the final boss fight of their adventure. But during the struggle, he gets amnesia. So the player now has to play through the hero’s memories of the adventure, leading up to this point. Honestly, the idea of it is a creative and very welcome spin on a frequently used trope. NIS is likely the perfect company to helm something of this nature, as well. They’re well known for outrageously metagames, like the Hyperdimension Neptunia and Disgaea franchises. The game being a JRPG just makes an enormous amount of sense, and with them involved it’s likely in good hands.
The Longest 5 Minutes comes to Nintendo Switch, PS Vita, and Steam on February 13, 2018.