Minutes is a clever game. Very clever. Each level takes a minute to play and there are 60 levels in total. Every single aspect of the interface and the design is minimalistic, and absolutely nothing feels surplus to requirements or random. Sometimes being clever puts you at a distance from your audience, but somehow Minutes manages to avoid this. Perhaps it's thanks to the pulsating music that lends a bit of character and personality to this otherwise stylised and somewhat sterile looking game.
The basic concept is simple enough. You control a sphere and you need to collect all things in colour and avoid all things black. Collect enough black things and you explode (game over), don't collect enough green and you won't unlock the next level. Each level is timed (60 seconds) and the idea is that you memorise the patterns and learn how to maximise your score. You can grow the circle (2x score multiplier) increasing the risk of eating black stuff, or shrink it (0.5x score multiplayer) to swiftly dodge out of harm's way.
Along the way you unlock a total of four power-ups, ranging from slowdown to an increased ability to eat black, or there's an option to send out a pulse to destroy black stuff before it hits your circle. What at first looked like a simple concept has potentially tons of different potential tactics and strategies that can be utilised during the second half of the 60 levels.
But as you'd expect the real challenge isn't to just make it through the 60 levels, but to perfect them, get all the colours in one level and gain those elusive 3 star ratings. Additionally, there's a daily challenge level that is simply impossible to perfect, which means it serves better as leaderboard material.
Minutes has been out for a few weeks now on both PS Vita and PS4, and to be perfectly honest it feels way more at home on Vita in your hands than it does on a 55" LED. Not that it looks bad in any way, it's just better suited to the smaller screen and portable gaming. The clean cut aesthetics simply look better on the Vita's screen. And perhaps we're also more conditioned to playing these sorts of games on a handheld.
In theory, everything about Minutes is perfect, yet we didn't find ourselves hooked for some reason. We played a few levels and then put it away. We played it for maybe 10-15 minutes sessions; we never found ourselves looking up at the clock only to realise we'd spent an hour chasing high scores. That addictive quality simply isn't there - although all the elements are accounted for, on paper at least. Perhaps others will get hooked in a way that we didn't. That said, we did found ourselves returning for a couple of quick levels on a regular basis. It's very easy to boot up for a quick a go; perhaps that's another reason why it felt so at home on Vita.
The music is great at getting you into the experience, but sadly elements that switch colours don't do so to the beat of the music, as such the soundtrack feels a little disconnected from the experience (unlike say Lumines).
We're not sure exactly why Minutes has been as overlooked as it has been. Maybe it's simply a bad idea to release a puzzle game in November. But nevermind that; if you're looking for a great puzzle game without any unnecessary bells and whistles, especially on Vita, you should take a closer at Minutes. If you've only got sixty seconds to spare and you want to play something meaningful, why not make it Minutes?
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