Live A Live, once the holy grail of fan translations, finally makes its way out of Japan with a HD-2D remake for Nintendo Switch. Originally released for the Super Famicom exclusively in Japan back in 1994, the game features 7 different protagonists all in completely different time periods. The game released July 22nd 2022 exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.
The games story is split between the games 7 scenarios which span across time from the Prehistoric era all the way to the distant future. These different stories all feel distinct from each other, making the game feel like 7 different games bundled into one. These chapters vary in length from around 30 minutes for the shortest up to around 3 or 4 hours for the lengthier chapters. You can tackle these stories in any order as each one is self-contained and tells a full story.
The Twilight of Edo Japan scenario puts you in the shoes of a young shinobi tasked with infiltrating a castle in a high stakes rescue mission. Each scenario has its own special gimmick that fits the setting. In this story you can hide from enemies to sneak through the castle undetected or leave nobody left standing and fight all of the castles 100 enemies along with passwords that change every time a bell tolls. These gimmicks help each story feel fresh and fit with the time periods. This story is one of the games longer chapters clocking in at around 3 hours and was personally one of my favourite chapters as sneaking through the castle avoiding traps or stronger enemies feels fantastic.
Another of the chapters is the Present Day scenario which plays out like a classic fighting game arcade mode where you play as a fighter who is determined to become the best fighter in the world and fights through a series of opponents in one on one battles to prove himself. This chapter feels like a loving homage to fighting games even down to the music and the screen where you select your next opponent. In this chapter, after seeing your opponent’s moves in action, you can use them yourself to defeat your opponents with their own fighting style. This chapter is much shorter compared to the Edo Japan chapter, only taking around half an hour to get through but its short length doesn’t stop it from being one of the more fun chapters.
Overall, the chapters are incredibly varied so there is bound to be at least one chapter that’s right up your street. You can also change the chapter you’re playing at any time so if one isn’t quite clicking with you, you can always come back to it another time. Personally, I really enjoyed the majority of the games chapters but I would have liked a few of them to have been slightly longer, particularly the wild west chapter as the characters in that chapter were fantastic.
The games combat takes place on a grid and uses a variation of the Active time battle system fans of the Final Fantasy series will surely be familiar with. You can move around the field to both avoid enemy attacks or to better hit your opponent, watch out though as each step brings enemies closer to attacking you. Each protagonist has a completely different moveset of special moves. Most chapters only let you take control of one or two characters at a time rather than a larger party seen in most JPRGs. The standard enemies in the game don’t usually pose too much of a threat outside of a few spikes in difficulty every so often, you can usually find a move that one shots most standard enemies. The mini-bosses and bosses at the end of each chapter however require much more effort to beat. Overall, the gameplay of the game complements the story well however the difficulty can feel all over the place at times with you going from one shotting enemies to doing almost no damage.
This remake was made in the same engine seen in Octopath Traveller and Triangle Strategy and like those games, the game looks fantastic visually. Each of the chapters visuals fit the setting very well, with great lighting effects that really add to the atmosphere in the areas. Character sprites also look fantastic, particularly the giant boss characters at the end of each chapter. The soundtrack for the game is exceptional, being composed by Yoko Shimomura. Each chapter has its own soundtrack which fits the tone of the chapter well. A lot of these tracks are very memorable, such as the Near Future chapter having an entire anime style opening or the theme for the final boss of a chapter, which is one of my favourite boss themes ever. Overall, the presentation of the game is fantastic with great visuals and an incredible soundtrack to go with it.
Overall, Live A Live is a fantastic JRPG with a unique approach to storytelling, combined with good gameplay and fantastic presentation that definitely shouldn’t be missed for fans of the genre, and is arguably one of the best JRPGs available on Nintendo Switch.
A great JRPG that fans of the genre are sure to enjoy with its varied stories and incredible soundtrack.