Live A Live (ライブ・ア・ライブ Raibu A Raibu, stylized as, LIVE A ƎVI⅃) 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. It was re-released for the Wii U´s Virtual Console in Japan for it´s 20th anniversary in June 24, 2015. It was also later re-released on November 28, 2016 in the New Nintendo 3DS e-shop.
A full remake of the game was announced on February 9th of 2022 setting a release date for July 22nd of that year on Nintendo Switch. Website here. It has been released.
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 or the crafting system present in the caveman and mecha chapters. After the first seven chapters are completed, the game's final sequence plays out, linking the previous chapters together 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 eschews some elements typical of the genre, such as magic points and money.
The game has turn-based, tactical battles that play out on a grid. Certain attacks can change tiles into damage zones. More powerful skills often have long charge times, which commits the character to that single attack for a long time, and gives the enemy an opportunity to interrupt them. 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 the battle.
In addition to these basic gameplay mechanics, each chapter contains some variations on the standard formula.
Live A Live has a large number of characters:
- Pogo (ポゴ), a young caveman who has just come of age, who is only capable of saying the word "love."
- Earthen Heart Shifu (心山拳老師, Shinzanken-roushi, Xīn Shān Quán-lǎoshī), an old kung-fu master seeking to pass on his art before he dies; his three pupils are:
- Hong Hakka (サモ・ハッカ Sammo Hakka),an obese yet agile man who likes food.
- Lei Kugo (レイ・クウゴ Rei Kuugo), the female yet not-so-femenine bandit.
- Yun Jou (ユン・ジョウ Yun Jou), a poor boy who stood up to local gangsters.
- Oboromaru (おぼろ丸), a ninja of the Enma Clan with great potential sent on an important mission.
- The Sundown Kid (サンダウン・キッド Sandaun Kiddo), a wandering cowboy famous for his skill with a gun.
- Masaru Takahara (高原 日勝 Takahara Masaru), 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), an orphan in the near future with psychic powers.
- Cube (キューブ Kyūbu), a self-aware robot created by the mechanic Kato (カトゥー Katū) aboard the spaceship Cogito Ergosum, designed to be a worker robot.
- Oersted (オルステッド Orusuteddo), a famous knight in the realm of Lucrece, betrothed to the King's only daughter.
- Odio (オディオ Odio), whose name is Latin for hate. He 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. Spoiler warning ahead of course.
In prehistoric times, a tribe of cavemen prepares to sacrifice a woman named Beru (べる Beru) to their deity, a living Tyrannosaurus rex named Odo (おーでぃーおー Ōdīō). 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 Ku Tribe attacks to retrieve her, but Pogo repels them. However, Beru is discovered in the process, and the elder exiles them along with Gori, Pogo´s gorilla friend. 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, an old kung-fu master of the Earthen Heart Kung Fu tradition takes on three students to pass on his art before he dies. 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 (the surviving student being the one the player trained the most), prompting the master and the surviving student to avenge their deaths. The rival school, led by Ou Di Wan 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 succeeds him as master of the tradition and takes a new generation of students.
In feudal Japan, a mysterious figure named Ode Iou (尾手 院王 Ode Iō) is trying to throw Japan into chaos. The Enma Ninja Clan sends one of their ninja named Oboromaru to rescue a prisoner who can stabilize Japan, then kill Ode Iou. After being rescued, the prisoner joins Oboro in the battle with Ode Iou. After Ode Iou is slain, the prisoner reveals that he is Ryoma Sakamoto. 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 (O・ディオ O Dio), the last remaining survivor of the 7th Cavalry division. Sundown stands up to the bandits, and they decide to raze the town in retaliation. Mad Dog agrees to help Sundown and the townsfolk prepare the town's defenses. After the town emerges from the battle 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 O'Bright (オディ・オブライト Odi Oburaito), has the same idea, but deliberately kills each of his opponents during the fight. 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 one of the children from the orphanage, so Akira and his friend Lawless (無法松 Muhoumatsu) set out to rescue him. Akira learns the location of the Crusaders' base, and discovers a plot by the Japanese government to liquefy people and use them to power a giant idol named Odeo (御出居). Lawless then sacrifices himself to power an ancient mech called The Steel Titan (ブリキ大王 Buriki Daiō, "Tin-Plated Great King"), 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 gives it the ironic name of 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. Soon, the Behemoth is released, and it kills more crew members. The remaining crew members continue to blame and mistrust one another, continuing with the deaths of the crew members Huey and Rachel. However, it is finally revealed that the culprit is the ship's computer, OD-10. Cube hacks into the computer and defeats it.
After completing the first seven chapters, the medieval chapter is unlocked. A brave knight named Oersted, a hero beloved by the people, defeats his best friend, the wizard Streibough (ストレイボウ Sutoreibou), in the final round of a fighting tournament, winning the right to marry Princess Alethea (アリシア Arishia) of Lucrece (ルクレツィア Rukuretsia). That night, she is kidnapped by the Demon King (魔王 Maō). The next day, Oersted and Streibough set out to rescue her. First, they find the heroes who defeated the Demon King thirty years prior, the knight Hasshe (ハッシュ Hasshu) and the priest Uranus (ウラヌス Uranusu), and convince them to join. They fight and defeat the Demon King, but Hasshe dies due to the plague, Alicia is nowhere to be found, and Streibough is seemingly killed by falling rocks. Oersted and Uranus return to Lucrece in defeat. That night, Oersted is tricked into slaying the King of Lucrece by an apparition of the Demon King. He is accused of being the Demon King himself, and is imprisoned. Uranus helps him escape, but is killed. Oersted returns to the mountain of the Demon King and finds Streibough alive, having faked his own death. Streibough reveals that, out of jealousy for Oersted, he sold his soul to become the next Demon King, and tricked Oersted into killing the King. Oersted is forced to kill him. He then rescues Alicia, but she confesses her love for Streibough beliving he had saved her where Oersted abandoned her, she then kills herself out of despair. Oersted, in his grief snaps, and sacrifices his soul to become the next Demon King, and names himself Odio. He then takes revenge on all of Lucrece, killing everyone.
In the final chapter, Oersted summons the protagonists of the first seven chapters to Lucrece, which is now colorless and depopulated, for a final battle. The player's chosen hero meets and recruits the other six heroes. The chapter is full of optional dungeons containing powerful equipment and in which they can encounter Streibough, who questions what his jealousy had caused. Once ready, the group confronts Oersted, who questions the heroes' motives, and then transforms into a demon to fight them. Once defeated, he reverts to his human form, and asks the hero to kill him. The hero gets a choice and can either kill him and get stuck in this time period forever or spare him and leave his lair. The hero refuses so Oersted attacks again, forcing each hero to fight the incarnation of Odio from their chapter. After the heroes win again, Oersted is unable to understand why he cannot win. The hero explains what he or she fights for to Oersted—each one having a different reason. He finally returns to reason, and so agrees to return them all to where they came from. He dies, and Lucrece is restored. Recruiting all heroes unlock extra extended credits.
If the player chooses Oersted as the final chapter's lead character, he will take control of the seven different incarnations of Odio in each chapter in turn. If he defeats each of the heroes, he is left to wander alone in an empty Lucrece. Alternately, he can choose to cause Armageddon, inexplicably destroying all of space-time instantly.
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. This was done in order to give an unique look for each scenario.
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."
The following images are from marketing material used to promote the game:
- The second Live in Live a Live's title (LIVE A ƎVI⅃) can be read as "evil", likely symbolising the fate of Oersted and his fall from grace after becoming Odio.
- It shares a few parallels and sound effects with Chrono Trigger, being an inspiration by having Takashi Tokita also work on it.
- It also has inspired Octopath Traveler with Takashi Tokita receiving special thanks.
- The Remake also uses its style and its engine.
- The name of the song Megalovania from Undertale was inspired by Megalomania, the boss theme of Live A Live.
- Ninja Chapter, Secret Orders, has an option to give mercy or kill NPCs, being a possible inspiration for Undertale.