What can I say other than “finally! “? Live A Live, the cult RPG, is finally available in the official Western version. Also, it’s not just a port of a 1994 Super Famicom/Super NES/Super Nintendo game, Square Enix did the right thing and decided to remake it in their HD-2D engine called Octopath Traveler or Triangle Strategy. But has this 16-bit RPG retained its brilliance, or is it outdated?
Crazy and Ambitious Live A Live Bet
Since the first version, published in 1994 in Japan, Live A Live has been Square’s ambitious and, it must be said, slightly crazy gamble. The Japanese studio, mindful of the various successes of Final Fantasy, has decided to offer Super Famicom players not just one story, but 7! Indeed, from the very beginning, the game offers us to choose one of seven characters, each representing a different era:
- Imperial China
- Feudal Japan
- Far West
- Present (or modern era)
- near future
- Far future in outer space aboard a spaceship
Thus, each chapter allows you to experience a new adventure in a different era with different characters and enemies. Only the combat system is identical, to which we will return below.
We owe this brilliant idea to Takashi Tokita, writer of Final Fantasy IV and Chrono Trigger, sorry. The music is provided by the equally brilliant Yoko Shimomura, who has an arm-length resume: Street Fighter II (Guile’s theme is her), Parasite Eve, Legend of Mana, Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy XV. The project has already been a joint project between Squaresoft and manga publisher Shogakukan Inc.
But unlike Octopath Traveler, which used the same concept, Live a Live’s characters end up meeting to face a common threat, much like the Avengers from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Therefore, after two additional chapters, the heroes unite to defeat evil.
Tactical and strategic battles for Live A Live
The genius of Live A Live also lies in its gameplay and in particular its combat system, which would find its place in a tactical RPG. Indeed, while combat is random, as in Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, character placement is important, as in Final Fantasy Tactics or Fire Emblem.
The Square Enix title offers a special turn-based game with squares where allies and enemies are placed. Of course, whoever talks about squares talks about movements, but also about zone attacks. Each special attack is learned as you level up. They come in many forms and can have a variable effect (attack, heal, elemental attack, and even an attack that leaves traps on the board). You’ll have to use them wisely to hopefully defeat your opponents, some of whom can occupy multiple squares at once, which can be very practical.
High Achievement in Live A Live
Whereas the original game offered traditional 16-bit era pixel art, the remake now available on the Nintendo Switch uses the HD-2D engine developed by Square Enix using Unreal Engine. It mixes 2D sprites with 3D elements. It can be seen in action in Octopath Traveler and Triangle Strategy. And we should see that in the future in Front Mission Remake as well as Dragon Quest III Remake.
The lighting effects are still successful, and the various 3D elements in the decor fit perfectly into a single whole. The result is exceptional and still impressive without distorting the original game. The real work of the masters of Team Asano (Square Enix team responsible for HD-2D projects) and Historia (external development studio).
Sound-wise, we’re spoiled too, as Yoko Shimomura is back with arrangements and other reworkings of the game’s iconic themes for a new soundtrack that’s still just as energetic. In addition, Live A Live has full dubbing in English or Japanese, as well as a good French translation.
If you’d like to get an idea of the game and its mechanics, you can download a demo from Nintendo eShop for Nintendo Switch. In addition, save data from the free demo can be transferred to the full game. Ideal to know what to expect from this feature called Live A Live. If it was out of place in 1994, it was part of the vast library of excellently crafted JRPGs and risks taken by Square. But today it is even more contradictory, knowing that the risks, especially for companies like Square Enix Co, who no longer have anything to do with their version of yesteryear, are now very calculated.
Download live demo
After Live A Live Remake, we are now waiting for Front Mission 1st Remake, which was supposed to be released this summer, but about which we have no further news. It must be said that the development was entrusted to a third-party and non-Japanese company, since Forever Entertainment (Panzer Dragoon Remake) is responsible for this. They are also responsible for the Front Mission 2 remake.
Benefits of Live A Live Remake
- Live A Live is finally officially available outside of Japan (made possible by its release on the Nintendo Wii Virtual Console).
- Impressive achievement
- Musical themes at their best
- Still an exciting story
- Excellent combat system
The – Live A Live Remake
- No additional content, unlike Romancing SaGa 2 and 3.
Buy Live A Live Remake on Nintendo Switch (Canada)
Buy Live A Live Remake for Nintendo Switch (France)