What is live? Everything you need to know (and maybe more)

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Photo: Famitsu / Square Enix

If you’ve been following game news lately, you’ve probably heard about Live A Live. You probably also belong in one of two camps: someone who knows what Live A Live is, and someone who can’t really tell it apart from all the other HD-2D Square Enix games, like Triangle Strategy and Octopath Traveler.

Well, whether you’re the kind of person who knows about Live A Live or not, we hope you’ll learn something from us, as we guide you through everything we know and everything you need to know. And maybe also some of the things you don’t do.

Answer all your direct questions

What is this?

Live A Live is a 1994 Super Famicom RPG, previously released only in Japan, coming to Nintendo Switch on July 22, 2022. The remake in the style of the now popular Square Enix will be HD-2D, such as Triangle Strategy and Octopath Travelers.

Who made it?

Square, which eventually became Square Enix (The People of Final Fantasy). They’ve also published it, meaning Square Enix is ​​publishing a 2022 edition – but only in Japan. Nintendo publishes Live A Live elsewhere.

Is it “live a life” or “live a life”? Or is it “living the life”?

This is not a good question for the written form, but if you read the original katakana, it is “Live A Live”. As in live music.

What is the plan?

Live A Live is a story divided into seven chapters, eight protagonists, and nine scenarios, all in a different time period. There is an evil force called (some version of) Odio in each period of time, which you will have to kill in order to complete the chapter. Although you can play the chapters in any order, they range from prehistoric time to the distant future, and each has its own hero from the respective period.

What kind of game is it?

It is a role-playing game with turn-based combat, like a lot of other JRPGs of that era like Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger. Each time period and scenarios has different mechanics as well – sometimes you’ll focus on crawling into dungeons, other times you’ll have to use stealth to get through.

How does combat work?

Well, it’s turn-based, and it’s very similar to a typical JRPG: two parties, one you control and the other you fight, stand facing each other. You have a range of moves to choose from, including attacks and skills, some of which can give special effects like healing or defending one piece when you’re standing in it. You can also move around the grid of tiles, with different movements that require different distances and positions.

Enemies also have a motion meter on top of their heads, which tells you how willing they are to make a move. If you are not within range when the working scale reaches the end, the counter will reset. Good strategy to get away from danger!

It is worth noting that some character stories will prioritize combat, others will discourage it, and some will have absolutely none.

Who are all the characters?

Note: These names may change in a new edition.

Pogo (prehistoric)
A caveman who hopes to save his crush from being a human sacrifice.

Master and Student of Kung Fu (Imperial Chinese)
An old master of Xin Shan Quan Kung Fu, and his best student, he hopes to succeed him, who have to avenge the murder of their fellow students.

Oboro-maru (feudal Japan)
A ninja on a mission to rescue a prisoner.

The Sundown Kid (Wild West)
An outlaw is about to engage his rival, Mad Dog, in an old town in the American West.

Masaru Takahara (present-day Japan)
A fighter hoping to become the strongest in the world.

Akira Tadokoro (Near Futures, Japan)
An orphan psychiatrist learns about a kidnapping ring run by cyclists.

cube (distant future, space)
A spherical robot on a spacecraft called Cogito Ergosum.

Why come out now?

Square Enix appears to be reviving much of its old catalog, with great success — consider the shiny remake of Final Fantasy VII, the recently announced Front Mission remake, the HD-2D remake of Dragon Quest 3, and even just plain nostalgia. – HD-2D style next to their latest games. Square knows they have some gold in their archives, and they’re happy to stash it all along with their new IP addresses.

It turns out that Takashi Tokita, the original director of Live A Live, was on the Octopath Traveler development team, and was inspired to use HD-2D style to bring his own game to life.

Is live living a big deal?

Yes and no. It didn’t sell well in 1994—only 270,000 copies, according to Wikipedia, which didn’t source that number—but it’s an important historical game relic.

This was the first game that Takashi Tokita would work on as a director, and his next one One would be… Chrono Trigger. So it’s basically a precursor to the Chrono Trigger, which isn’t surprising, given the travel time.

One of the game’s designers, Nobuyuki Inoue, will become the director of Mother 3.

The composer, Yoko Shimomura, will eventually be the composer for Legend of Mana, Super Mario RPG, Mario & Luigi series, and Kingdom Hearts games. It’s a big deal!

And of course, despite its declining sales, Live A Live is a beloved early RPG with enough cult following that fans were translated by Aeon Genesis in 2001, who describes it like this:

Live A Live is really unique when it comes to RPGs. Instead of having one long continuous story, LAL throws a whole bunch of short (but good) stories at you. Each chapter is set in a different time period, and each has unique gameplay aspects… The story is fairly general, but it’s well told, and two of the chapters will throw you some real curveballs. Suffice to say, the game is really worth your time. Just don’t spoil it yourself with the step-by-step instructions!

Is it really good?

yes! Although he is not a Chrono Trigger, he has his fans and his place in the JRPG roster. It got 29/40 on Famitsu when it came out, which isn’t too bad, and while many reviews seemingly criticized its shortness and final chapters, the general consensus seems to be that the game was unique, interesting, and well-written.

Is the music good?

With Kingdom Hearts composer Yoko Shimomura at the helm, you can bet she’s pretty good. Looks like Shimomura has returned to coordinating and arranging the soundtrack as well!

Expect stylized combat themes, epic organ pieces, and Megalomania, the theme of Toby Fox’s “Megalovania.”

Are there new things for the new version?

yes!

  • Voice acting for the main and important characters
  • Audio re-recording
  • Physical and collector version of the game
  • UI updates
  • The sound effects have been updated
  • Balanced game
  • Added radars and maps
  • Redrawn character designs (by Naoki Ikushima)

Why did it take so long to get to the West?

Tokita tells Famitsu that he tried several times, but it didn’t work out. It wasn’t until he joined the team behind Octopath Traveler that he realized that the HD-2D approach would work perfectly. In particular, he said, the Edo and Prehistoric chapters were hard to finish, because the team had a much higher bar to remake than the original!

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Photo: Famitsu / Square Enix

how long is it?

About 30-40 hours, according to Tokita. How long you hit anywhere between 18-30 hours, depending on whether you’re complete or whether you play games leisurely, as well as the ways you choose to play some chapters.

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Photo: Famitsu / Square Enix

In a sense, yes. Director Takashi Tokita went on to direct Chrono Trigger. You can see from the original designs that it looks a lot like the Chrono Trigger too!

Will I enjoy it?

Do you like JRPGs? Did you like Chrono Trigger? Want to try out an old cult favorite game without having to play it in Japanese at Super Famicom? Do you want to listen to some absolute sounds? Do you have about 18-30 hours to spare? Then yes, probably.

There’s a demo available on the Switch eShop, and you can check out our hands-on preview to get some early impressions before our review that will arrive in time.

Can I switch between old and new graphics/music?

we do not know! That would be nice, though.

When does it come out?

July 22, 2022.

Is it present on other consoles/computers?

number! Well, it’s on the Super Famicom, so yes we are. But it won’t be on PC, Xbox, or PlayStation.

Any other details?

  • 4.6 GB
  • It costs $64.99 / £34.99
  • You can preload it now, if you want to
  • Tomokazu Sugita (AKA Joseph Joestar in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and Chrom in Fire Emblem) with multiple voiceover roles
  • “Cube” appears to be a reference to Stanley Kubrick (which is also not a cube)
  • Effects range from 2001: space flight to SaGa and Final Fantasy Toys
  • Different manga artists have designed each of the main characters:
    • Yoshihide Fujiwara
    • Yoshinori Kobayashi
    • Osamu Ishiwata
    • Yumi Tamora
    • Ryūji Minagawa
    • Gosho Aoyama
    • Kazuhiko Shimamoto

There are so many things to know about Live A Live! Let us know if you have any other questions in the comments below!

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