Live A Live
|Live A Live|
|Release date(s)||Super Famicom/SNES
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game Turn-based Tactics|
Live A Live (ライブ・ア・ライブ Raibu A Raibu, stylized as ?, LIVE A ƎVI⅃) <EVIL> is a role-playing video game developed by Square (now Square Enix) for the Super Famicom released in Japan on September 2, 1994. It was never released outside Japan, but it has been unofficially translated into English.
Live A Live's story begins with a series of seven seemingly unrelated chapters that can be played in any order, based on popular genres such as Western, science fiction, and mecha. Each chapter has its own plot, setting, and characters. Although the basic gameplay is the same throughout the game, every chapter has its own unique gimmick, such as the stealth elements in the ninja chapter. After the first seven chapters are completed, two final, sequential chapters take place, linking the previous chapters into an overarching plot and resolving the story.
Live A Live contains the basic elements of a role-playing video game. The characters explore dungeons, towns, or similar areas, fight enemies, and gain experience points to level up. However, the game does some things that are unusual for the genre, such as eschewing magic points and money as a stat, and automatically restoring the characters' health between battles.
The game's turn-based tactics-like battles take place on a 7x7 square grid, in which the character and enemies may move freely and use typical RPG commands. Certain attacks can change the grid's tiles into elemental areas, which damage those not resistant to them. Enemies receive a turn after the player moves or completes an action – however, some actions take longer to execute than others. Each character and enemy has unique abilities with different strengths, range, and charge time. While there is no limit to the use of a specific skill, a more powerful skill may have a greater charge time, allowing the enemy multiple turns to attack. Using multiple characters allows for a wide variety of strategies to be employed. Characters can be inflicted with status ailments, and certain items, attacks, and skills can raise or lower a character or enemy's stats while in battle. When a character's hit points reach zero, they collapse and are unable to move, but can be revived by using a healing item or spell. However, if they are hit when in the knocked-out state, they permanently disappear from battle. Certain enemies may be linked to a single leader; when the leader is destroyed, they will "break down" and disappear.
Each chapter contains some variations on the standard formula. Contact, the prehistoric chapter, is told without a single line of dialogue, as the cavemen had not yet developed language. Items are created by combining raw materials such as sticks and rocks. Pogo, the protagonist of the chapter, has a strong sense of smell and uses it to track monsters and solve other puzzles. Inheritance, the kung-fu chapter, allows the player to choose between three different pupils, all with different abilities, and train them. The chosen pupil fights alongside the master at the end of the chapter and takes his place in the final chapter. Secret Orders, the ninja chapter, employs stealth game elements. The chapter is open-ended, allowing the player to complete it in a variety of ways. The player can strive to kill all one hundred humans in the chapter, or avoid killing any of them. Wandering, the cowboy chapter, involves the player gathering supplies, using them to make traps, and assigning them to the different townsfolk to set up. For every trap set, the difficulty of the final battle decreases. The modern day chapter, The Strongest, resembles a fighting game, consisting only of bouts against martial arts masters. The player can fight the masters in any order and learn their abilities by being hit with them. In Flow, the near-future chapter, the protagonist is able to read minds, which opens up more dialogue and is sometimes needed to progress through the plot. The player can upgrade items to make new, often better ones. Mechanical Heart, the sci-fi chapter, is purely story-driven, with no battles other than the final boss and an optional arcade game.
King of Demons, the hidden medieval fantasy chapter, plays the most like a traditional RPG, being the first chapter to employ random battles. The final chapter is the most open-ended, allowing the player to choose any combination of protagonists and search for weapons and items to prepare for the final battle.
Live A Live has a large number of characters. The main character of the prehistoric chapter, Pogo (ポゴ), is a young caveman who has just come of age, who is only capable of saying the word "love." Oboro-maru (おぼろ丸) is a ninja of the Enma with great potential sent on an important mission. Master Xin Shan Quan (心山拳老師, Shinzanken-roushi, Xīn Shān Quán-lǎoshī) is an old kung-fu master seeking to pass on his art before he dies; his three pupils are an obese yet agile man named Sammo Hakka (サモ・ハッカ Samo Hakka), a female bandit named Lei Kuugo (レイ・クウゴ Rei Kuugo), and a boy named Yuan Jou (ユン・ジョウ Yun Jou) who stood up to the local gangsters. The Sundown Kid (サンダウン Sandaun) is a wandering cowboy famous for his skill with a gun. Masaru Takahara (高原 日勝 Takahara Masaru) is a wrestler with the dream of being the strongest fighter in the world who possesses a strong sense of justice. Akira Tadokoro (田所 晃 Tadokoro Akira, アキラ Akira) is an orphan in the near future with psychic powers. Cube (キューブ Kyūbu) is a self-aware robot created by the mechanic Kato (カトゥー Katō) aboard the Cogito Ergosum. Oersted (オルステッド Orusuteddo) is a famous knight in the realm of Lucretia, betrothed to the King's only daughter. Odio, whose name comes from the Latin word for hate, is the Demon King and the main antagonist of the game.
The first seven chapters can be played in any order, and the final two chapters open up after they are completed.
In prehistoric times, a tribe of cavemen prepares to sacrifice a woman named Bel (べる Beru) to their deity, a living Tyrannosaurus rex named O-D-O (おーでぃーおー Ō Dī Ō). She escapes to the south and hides in a cave belonging to another tribe, stealing their food to survive. She is discovered by a young caveman named Pogo, who falls in love with her and decides to help her hide from the rest of the tribe. The northern tribe attacks to retrieve her, but Pogo repels them. However, Bel is discovered in the process, and the elder exiles them. Eventually, Pogo is forced to fight O-D-O, and is assisted by a warrior of the northern tribe named Zaki (ざき). After the beast is defeated, peace is established between the two tribes.
In ancient China, and centers on an old kung-fu master of the Xin Shan Quan tradition and his three students. While the master is away one day, the dojo is attacked by a rival dojo seeking revenge for an insult. Two of the students are killed, prompting the master and his remaining student to avenge their deaths. The rival school, led by Odi Wang Lee (オディワン・リー Odiwan Rī), is defeated, but the master dies afterward, having used the last of his strength in the fight. The student then is tasked with training the next generation.
In feudal Japan, a mysterious figure named Ode Iou (尾手 院王 Ode Iō) is trying to throw Japan into chaos. The ninja clan Enma sends one of their ninja named Oboro-maru to rescue a prisoner who can stabilize Japan, then kill Ode Iou. After rescuing the prisoner, he joins the ninja in the battle with Ode Iou, who turns out to be a monster. After Ode Iou is slain, the prisoner reveals that he Is Sakamoto Ryōma. Oboro is then given the choice of returning to the Enma or joining Ryōma in his plans to rebuild Japan.
This chapter takes place in the American Old West. An outlaw called the Sundown Kid and his rival, a bounty hunter named Mad Dog (マッド・ドッグ Maddo Doggu), arrive in Success Town, a place terrorized by a group of bandits called the Crazy Bunch (クレイジー・バンチ Kureijī Banchi), led by O. Dio, the last remaining survivor of the 7th Cavalry. The two decide to team up temporarily and help the town stand up to the bandits. The townsfolk agree to help, and they make a plan to prepare the town's defenses against an attack. After defeating most of the assailants, O. Dio (O・ディオ O Dio) attacks them with a Gatling gun. After emerging victorious, Mad Dog challenges Sundown to one final duel. The player has the option of killing Mad Dog or running away.
The Strongest is set in the present day. Masaru Takahara strives to become the strongest fighter in the world by fighting the masters of different fighting disciplines to learn their techniques. However, another fighter, Odie Oldbright (オディ・オブライト Odi Oburaito), fights the same six masters and murders them all. He then challenges Masaru, who defeats him.
In the near future in Japan, a biker gang called the Crusaders has been kidnapping people with unknown intentions. A young orphan with psychic powers named Akira Tadokoro grows up in an orphanage with his sister. One day, the Crusaders kidnap a fellow orphan, who is rescued by Akira and his friend Matsu (無法松 Muhoumatsu). Thanks to his psychic powers, Akira learns the location of the base of the Crusaders, and discovers a plot by the Japanese government to liquefy people and use them to power a giant idol named Odeo (御出居). Matsu then sacrifices himself to power an ancient mech called Buriki Daioh, which Akira uses to destroy Odeo.
In the distant future, a space ship called Cogito Ergosum is returning to earth carrying a dangerous alien called the Behemoth (ベヒーモス Behīmosu). The mechanic, Kato, creates a spherical robot and ironically names it Cube. The player takes the role of Cube as it explores the ship and meets the crew. However, things begin to go wrong as the ship malfunctions and a crew member named Kirk (カーク Kāku) dies in a freak accident. As the story progresses, the Behemoth is released and it kills more crew members. The remaining crew members continue to blame and mistrust one another, but it is finally revealed that the culprit is the ship's computer, OD-10. Cube hacks into the computer via a video game console and defeats it.
King of Demons
After completing the first seven chapters, the medieval chapter is unlocked. A brave knight named Oersted, a hero beloved by the people, sets off to rescue Princess Alicia (アリシア Arishia) of Lucretia, his fiancee, from the Demon King (魔王). He joins his best friend, the wizard Straybow (ストレイボウ Sutoreibou, possibly a respelling of Strabo), and the heroes who defeated the Demon King thirty years prior, the knight Hash (ハッシュ Hasshu) and the priest Uranus (ウラヌス Uranusu), and heads to the mountain of the Demon King. The demon king has created seven demonic statues in hopes of travelling through time to taint the history of the world with his evil, of which he is seemingly unsuccessful. Hash dies due to the plague, which he had all along after a battle with the alleged Demon King, and Straybow is seemingly killed by falling rocks shortly thereafter. Oersted and Uranus return to Lucretia that night to regroup, but Oersted is tricked into slaying the King by an image of the Demon King. He is accused of being the Demon King himself, and imprisoned. Uranus helps him escape then dies, and Oersted flees the country, reviled by the people who idolized him the day before. He returns to the mountain of the Demon King and finds that Straybow had faked his own death, after discovering a hidden passageway to where Alicia was being held. Straybow reveals he was behind everything, and his motive was jealousy of Oersted, having lost the tournament to win her hand in the beginning of the chapter. Oersted slays him in defence. Alicia enters, confesses her love for Straybow, and stabs herself. Oersted realizes that there is nothing left in his life, becomes paranoid, and desires revenge against humanity for taking everything away from him. He sacrifices his soul to become the next Demon King, and names himself Odio.
In the final chapter, Odio summons the protagonists of the first seven chapters to his realm, a colorless Lucretia with its people mysteriously absent, for a final battle. The player's chosen protagonist meets and recruits the other six characters, and is given the option of traversing seven dungeons for the sake of grinding and unlocking the seven most powerful weapons for each character. Once ready, the group fights Odio, who questions the hero's faith in helping others, and then reveals his true form; a hideous face made out of greenery. After most of the individual parts are destroyed, the "Mole" moves downward and lifts its blood-red wings that it used to conceal itself, revealing the demon's final form to be a winged humanoid. Once defeated, it reverts to Oersted, who begs the player to kill him. The protagonist is then given the choice of killing him, but if they refuse, and the player has recruited all seven characters, Oersted attacks the group again with the demon statues after they have fled from him, forcing all seven of them to fight the incarnation of Odio from their chapter. After all forms of Odio are destroyed, Oersted asks why he cannot win against the heroes, proclaiming it to be his "destiny" to win. The protagonist explains what he or she fights for to Oersted, and he agrees to return them all to where they came from, dies, and fades into nothingness. Lucretia is freed from Odio's control.
If the player chooses Oersted as the final chapter's lead character, the game will explore the mechanics of how he manipulated the seven villains, and it is revealed that he used the demon statues erected by the previous demon king to do so. He defeats the seven protagonists using the demon statues with all of his incarnations, and is left to wander in an empty Lucretia forever lonely or, if almost defeated, is given the option to cause armageddon, inexplicably and completely vaporizing everything at the same seven points of time in which his proxies stood.
The characters of each of the game's chapters were illustrated by a group of different manga artists involving Yoshihide Fujiwara, Yoshinori Kobayashi, Osamu Ishiwata, Yumi Tamura, Ryōji Minagawa, Gosho Aoyama and Kazuhiko Shimamoto.
Live A Live's soundtrack was composed by Yoko Shimomura. The Live A Live Original Sound Version, a single CD containing 41 songs, was released on August 25, 1994. A promotional Mini CD was included with the "Live A Live Perfect Strategy Guide Book." It contained two arranged medley tracks, and was released on October 21, 1994. Both items were published by NTT Publishing. In 2008, the tracks "The Bird Flies in the Sky, the Fish Swims in the River" and "Forgotten Wings" were included on Drammatica: The Very Best of Yoko Shimomura, a compilation of the composer's work at Square Enix.
On release, Famicom Tsūshin scored the game a 29 out of 40. In 2011, GamePro included it on the list of the 14 best JRPGs that were not released in English, adding that "rumor has it the game was originally slated for a US release, making its absence here sting all the more."
- Lada, Jenni (February 1, 2008). "Important Importables: Best SNES role-playing games". Gamer Tell. Retrieved 2009-09-11.
- Patrick Gann. "Live A Live OSV". RPGFan.com. Retrieved 2008-06-11.
- Patrick Gann. "Live A Live Perfect Strategy Guide Book −8cm CD Limited Edition-". RPGFan.com. Retrieved 2008-06-11.
- "Drammatica: The Very Best of Yoko Shimomura". Square-Enix.com. Retrieved 2008-06-11.
- NEW GAMES CROSS REVIEW: ライブ・ア・ライブ. Weekly Famicom Tsūshin. No.299. Pg.38. 9 September 1994.
- The 14 Best Unreleased JRPGs , page 2, Feature Story from GamePro