What is Live-A-Live? Everything you need to know (and maybe more)


 What is Live-A-Live?  Everything you need to know (and maybe more)

Image: Famitsu / Square Enix

If you’ve been following gaming news lately, chances are you’ve heard of Live A Live. You’re also probably in one of two camps: someone who knows what Live A Live is, and someone who can’t really tell it apart from all the other HD 2D Square Enix games like Triangle Strategy and Octopath Traveler.

Well, whether you’re the Live A Live knowledgeable type of person or not, hopefully you can learn something from us as we walk you through everything we know and everything you need to know. And probably some things you don’t do as well.

All your Live-A-Live questions answered

What is it?

Live A Live is a 1994 Super Famicom RPG that was previously only released in Japan and will be released on July 22, 2022 for Nintendo Switch. The remake will be in Square Enix’s now legendary HD 2D style, like Triangle Strategy and Octopath Traveler.

Who did it?

Square, which eventually became Square Enix (the folks behind Final Fantasy). They released it too, and that means Square Enix will release the 2022 version – but only in Japan. Everywhere else Nintendo releases Live A Live.

Is it Live A Live or Live A Live? Or is it “Live A Live”?

This isn’t a good question for the written form, but if you read the original katakana, it’s “Live A Live”. As in live music.

What is the plot?

Live A Live is a story divided into seven chapters, eight protagonists and nine scenarios, all set in a different time period. In each time period there is an evil force called (a version of) Odio that you must kill to complete the chapter. Although you can play the chapters in any order, they range from a prehistoric time to the distant future, each with its own protagonist from that time period.

What game is it?

It’s an RPG with turn-based combat, similar to other JRPGs of the era like Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger. Each of the time periods and scenarios also have different mechanics – sometimes you focus on crawling in dungeons, other times you need to use cloaking to get through.

How does the fight work?

Well, it’s turn-based and presented much like a typical JRPG: two factions, one you control and one you fight face off. You have a range of moves to choose from, including attacks and abilities, some of which can grant special effects like healing or defense to a single square when you stand in it. You can also move in the grid of tiles, with different moves requiring different distances and stances.

Enemies also have an action meter on their head that tells you how ready they are to make a move. If you are out of range when their action meter reaches the end, the meter will reset. A good strategy to avoid danger!

It’s worth noting that some characters’ stories will prioritize combat, others will discourage it, and some will have none at all.

Who are all characters?

Note: These names may change in the remake.

Pogo (prehistoric period)
A caveman hoping to save his crush from being a human sacrifice.

Master and student of kung fu (Imperial China)
An old master of Xin Shan Quan Kung Fu and his top student, who he hopes will succeed him, must avenge the death of their fellow students.

Oboro-maru (feudal Japan)
A ninja on a mission to rescue a prisoner.

The Sundown Kid (Wild West)
An outlaw faces a showdown with his rival, Mad Dog, in an old west American town.

Masaru Takahara (present-day Japan)
A fighter hoping to become the strongest in the world.

Akira Tadokoro (Near Future, Japan)
A psychic orphan who finds out about a kidnapping ring run by bikers.

Cube (Far Future, Outer Space)
A spherical robot on a spaceship named Cogito Ergosum.

Why is it out now?

Square Enix seems to be reviving much of its old catalog with great success – think the glossy Final Fantasy VII remake, the recently announced Front Mission remakes, the HD 2D remake of Dragon Quest 3, and even just the nostalgia. adjacent HD 2D style of their newer games. Square knows they have some gold in their archives, and they’re happy to showcase it all along with their more recent IPs.

It turns out that Takashi Tokita, the original director of Live A Live, worked on the team developing Octopath Traveler and he was inspired to use the HD 2D style to revitalize his own game.

Is Live A Live a big deal?

Yes and no. It didn’t sell particularly well in 1994 – only 270,000 copies, according to Wikipedia, which doesn’t give its sources for that number – but it’s an important historical gaming relic.

It was the first game Takashi Tokita worked on as a director, and his next one would be… Chrono Trigger. So it’s basically the prequel to Chrono Trigger, which isn’t surprising given its time-traveling storyline.

One of the game’s designers, Nobuyuki Inoue, later became the director of Mother 3.

The composer, Yoko Shimomura, would eventually be the composer for Legend of Mana, Super Mario RPG, the Mario & Luigi series, and the Kingdom Hearts games. She’s a big deal!

And of course, despite its low sales, Live A Live is a popular early RPG with enough cult status that a fan translation was made by Aeon Genesis in 2001, describing it thus:

Live A Live is truly unique when it comes to RPGs. Instead of having one long continuous story, LAL throws a whole bunch of fairly short (but good) stories at you. Each chapter is set in a different time period and each has unique gameplay aspects… The story is pretty generic but it’s told very well and some of the chapters throw you some real curveballs. Suffice it to say that the game is really worth your time. Just don’t spoil it with a walkthrough!

is it really good

Yes! While not a Chrono Trigger, it does have its fans and its place in the JRPG canon. It got a 29/40 in Famitsu when it came out, which isn’t too bad, and while several reviews seemed to criticize its brevity and final chapters, the general consensus seems to be that the game was unique, interesting, and well-written.

is the music good

With Kingdom Hearts composer Yoko Shimomura at the helm, you bet it’s good. It looks like Shimomura has returned to orchestrate and arrange the soundtrack as well!

Expect bombastic battle themes, epic organ tracks and delusions of grandeur, the theme after which Toby Fox’s “Megalovania” was named.

Is there new stuff for the remake?


  • Voice acting for main and important characters
  • Re-recorded soundtrack
  • A physical and collector’s edition of the game
  • UI updates
  • Sound effects updated
  • Rebalanced gameplay
  • Added radar and charts
  • Redrawn character designs (by Naoki Ikushima)

Why did it take so long to get to the west?

Tokita told Famitsu that he tried several times but it just didn’t work. It wasn’t until he joined the team behind Octopath Traveler that he realized that the HD 2D style would work perfectly. The Edo and Prehistory chapters in particular are said to be difficult to complete as the team set a much higher bar for the remake than for the original!

Image: Famitsu / Square Enix

how long is it

About 30-40 hours according to Tokita. How Long To Beat says anywhere from 18 to 30 hours depending on whether you’re a completer or you play games at a leisurely pace, as well as how you play some of the chapters.

Image: Famitsu / Square Enix

In a way yes. The director, Takashi Tokita, later directed Chrono Trigger. You can see from the original designs that it looks quite similar to the Chrono Trigger too!

will i enjoy it

Do you like JRPGs? Did you like Chrono Trigger? Want to experience an older popular cult game without having to play it in Japanese on a Super Famicom? Wanna hear some absolute bops? Do you have around 18-30 hours to spare? Then yes, probably.

A demo is available on the Switch eShop, and you can check out our hands-on preview for some first impressions ahead of our review, which will arrive in due course.

Can I switch between old and new graphics/music?

We do not know it! But that would be nice.

when is it out

July 22, 2022.

Is it on other consoles/PCs?

No! Well it’s on the Super Famicom, so technically yes. But it won’t be on PC, Xbox or PlayStation.

Any other details?

  • It’s 4.6GB
  • It costs $64.99 / £34.99
  • You can preload it right away if you want
  • Tomokazu Sugita (aka Joseph Joestar in JoJo’s bizarre adventure and Chrome in Fire Emblem) will appear in multiple voice-over roles
  • “Cube” is apparently a reference to Stanley Kubrick (who is also not a cube)
  • Influences range from 2001: A Space Odyssey to the SaGa and final fantasy games
  • Different manga artists designed each of the main characters:
    • Yoshihide Fujiwara
    • Yoshinori Kobayashi
    • Osamu Ishiwata
    • Yumi Tamura
    • Ryoji Minagawa
    • Gosho Aoyama
    • Kazuhiko Shimamoto

That’s a lot to know about Live A Live! Let us know if you have any other questions in the comments below!

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