Friday, June 6, 2014

Live-a-Live (Super Famicom, 1994)

The next Super Famicom RPG that I'm going to cover is the relatively-unknown Live-a-Live. In the vein of the SaGa games, this one has a bunch of characters to choose from. The difference is that rather than all of them playing through the same game with slightly different scenarios, they all have a chapter of their own before converging at the end. It's most comparable to Dragon Warrior 4, but the way you can choose the order of the chapters puts a new spin on things. It's almost episodic. You can't really go wrong with mid-90's Square, so let's get to it.

My God! It's Kato Kaelin, of OJ Simpson case fame!

Muten Roshi, of Dragonball Z fame? What kind of game is this?

 Here's the scenario-select. There are seven chapters, and they're wildly different from one another in setting. The characters and settings are thus:

Caveman - Prehistoric
 Ninja - Feudal Japan
Monk - Chinese Monastery
Cowboy - Wild West
Pro Wrestler - Present
Mutant Akira Guy - Near-Future
Robot - Far-Future

I end up going with the ninja for the first scenario. Another game this is similar to? Suikoden III.

Our story begins outside of a fearsome pagoda.

An evil warlord summons his goons, while lightning strikes and nefarious music plays. Every villain in this game has a name similar to Ode (for instance, "Odio") making me think they're all the same guy. Lucifer through the eras, or something like that. If so, interesting idea.

Ode and his goons are about two things: Eating human meat, and...

 ...starting wars. Is this what a Bush Administration cabinet meeting looked like?

Meanwhile, ninjas are scheming to stop Ode with a secret weapon. That secret weapon?

 Obo. No relation to Odo from Deep Space Nine. His full name is Oboro, and he's the hero of the chapter.

While I chose this one first, I can't recommend it to new players. Turns out that Obo's chapter is by far the longest of the seven, comprising probably 40% of their total runtime.

Shawn Michaels' theme plays as Obo descends from the ceiling via a rope. It's Wrestlemania XII all over again!

"Ah! Ah! Obo!"


Oh, right. Obo is charged with breaking into Ode's castle and slaying him. With his ability to rappel from the ceiling, he's the only one who can.

 It's an era of intrigue.

The chapter begins for real. Let's get this show on the road.

 We start with Oboro being charged with thievery by guards. I'm going to call him Oboro from now on so that I don't confuse him with Ode, the villain, whilst typing. Three-letter names that start with O and all.

The battle system of this game is truly odd. It takes place on a screen of tiles, and spells/attacks target specific tiles.

 The game keeps track of how many people you kill in this scenario. You can go through killing no one and get a unique weapon, or you can kill everyone (all 100 NPCs) and get another special item. Reminds me of Metal Gear Solid a bit. I'm not going to worry about any of this, just cruise.

 The moves of Oboro at the outset: A regular attack, a Crono Cyclone, and a fire-rush.

 I stealthily stalk around Ode's pagoda, killing everyone I encounter. What a strange game.

Every so often there's a changing of the guard, which affects where you can go without triggering NPC battles. Doesn't matter too much to me, though.

Know what this pagoda needs more of? Garden Gnomes. Porcelain statues of small men. Everyone loves to spy a wee gnome in the morning.

 I sneak around the pagoda rafters, fighting off rats. Can look down from here and see weirdness going on in the rooms. Here, some old pervert is trying to solicit a girl who looks about 14.

 She spins around and around while saying this a lot. What kind of place is this?

Oboro turns invisible when he's standing still. See him? Nope. He's like The Predator.

 This wasn't a good chapter to start with, as I've said. Aside from the length, the battles are difficult.

 Our hero stumbles upon that room he looked down on earlier. What's with these choices? I can either spin her around or kill her? Holy shit! Is this Live-a-Live: Vice City?

I proceed to beat the woman down in a battle. W...T...F

 Oboro then climbs into bed with the seedy old guy and...

 ...learns a new battle technique. What the fuck kind of game is this?


 Our "hero" now stumbles into a harem room. Is he going to kill them too?

 Here's the Hiton in action. It unleashes a bunch of fire waves over a medium-sized area.

 The next goal is to find this warehouse key. It leads to a battle with...

 ...this defenseless-looking woman, who is too powerful to defeat at this point. Not sure why I need to fight her to begin with...

Next thing I know, I find something that you won't see in your average Final Fantasy.

 Next thing I know, the harem women are attacking! They're clad in skin-tight black spandex. How will Oboro fight with the raging boner he's sporting?

 There are panels up mid-battlefield that I need to fight through to get to that sweet femaleness. Soon as I do, I take a shuriken to the eye. Ouch.

Well, so far this game is quite odd, but there's no denying that it's well-constructed.


  1. Spin or kill? That's hardly a choice...

  2. Good God, looks like you're gonna kill everyone.
    I admire how original this is from usual Square fare.
    I also remember this game having a big surprise in the ending. Can't wait for it!
    Interesting the Japanese segment is the longest. Japanese know Japan, I guess.