“Odeo, Odo, OD-10. I’m sensing a pattern here”
Back in September 1994, Square developed and published a unique RPG for the Super Famicom in the form of "Live A Live", but it was forsaken to stay a Japanese exclusive title. Nearly 28 years later, Square Enix has graced the world with a remake of this seven story RPG. To this day, the original still feels like a fresh and distinctive concept, but now the graphics have been overhauled and the soundtrack updated, improving an already incredible tactical/console style RPG.
Whether you know of the original or not, one of the first things you’ll notice about the remake is the new 2D-HD graphics, a style first seen in Octopath Traveller. A 3D-Esqe background with fully 2D Pixel characters, enemies and NPCs that make this feel less like a remake, and more like something completely brand new.
As in the original, there are 7 campaigns to choose from, all set in different time periods, from the CaveMan Child of the Prehistoric Age, a Wanderer in the Wild West, a Bare Knuckle Fighter in the Modern Time Streets and all the way to the far future in space with an adorable little box droid simply named Cube.
Not only does each of the seven campaigns come with its own protagonist, but we are also treated to differing play-styles and fighting styles, as well as unique game mechanics. As an example, Masaru, the Bare Knuckle Fighter in Modern Times, learns the moves of his opponents in a battle tournament style campaign, where you choose the order in which you face-off against your adversaries.
Another is Oboromaru, The Shadow Ninja of Edo Japan. He uses stealth to steer clear of enemies, avoiding the traps around the castle and only facing enemies when it’s deemed completely necessary.
In probably the most unique of the seven campaigns, we have the loveable Cube. Cube is a small droid, created on board a spaceship, whose primary purpose is to make everyone’s life a little bit easier during an expedition. The peculiar thing about Cube is that it doesn’t battle at all. Cube’s campaign is much more akin to the survival horror genre, heavily influenced by the ALIEN movies, in which a monster chases you down. If it catches you, it’s game over!
All 7 campaigns are an absolute blast to go through and will leave you wanting to continue exploring them in order to find all of the secrets to their stories, and how and why they connect.
The battle systems are largely the same between all 7 campaigns outside of a few slight differences. For example, how encounters begin in some campaigns is different, and a couple of campaigns don’t actually have Random Encounter battles at all. The ones that don’t are all static encounters that you can see on the overworld, so you can easily avoid battles as much or as little as you want.
Battles take place on a 7x7 grid. Characters and enemies each take up a space each, with some larger enemies taking between 4-9 spaces. Actions in battle revolve around the use of an Active Time Bar that fills up as you sit still or move, which is also the same for enemies that tend to only move once their bars are filled. Once your character’s bars are filled you have the opportunity to either attack with your skills or using items bought from shops or found in item boxes. Most attacks are AOE (Area of Effect) attacks which can cause major damage to a lot of enemies at once, which can make battles rather easy, especially when you can see which skills enemies are weak against.
While playing through Live A Live, I found the performance to be near to perfect on the Switch. The only issue I came across, which can be common with a lot of games, is big effects slowing battle down when there are a lot of enemies on screen. The developers really put their all into making this game beautiful on the eyes. Even though everything is pixelated, it’s nothing but a treat, especially if you’re lucky enough to be playing on a Nintendo Switch OLED model.
This game is probably best played in short bursts rather than a long gameplay session, as you really want to absorb and appreciate just how good of a game it is. With each campaign only lasting roughly 3-4 hours, you don’t want to waste the opportunity to enjoy it fully, as there isn't much in the way of replayability once you finish the game.
Whether you somehow played the original Super Famicom version, or if you’ve always wanted to play this game, this Nintendo Switch re-vamp isn’t something you should miss out on. Some campaigns can be quite the challenge, but they’re more than rewarding, especially if it’s your first time playing through the game. A piece of gaming history full of twists and turns, surprises and an expansive story to piece together, Live A Live is an all-time classic.
Where to Buy
My Nintendo Store
Written by Will L. Ince
Edited by Mark McAllister, Paul L. Russell and Jen Griffiths.
Graphic by Paul L. Russell