IF you were to ask me to sum up the latest Nintendo exclusive Live a Live, it would be that it’s like a collection of short stories in a book. Different stories each having a unique tale and gameplay hook to play. You’re here for a good time, and in some instances, not a long time.
Live a Live takes us gamers on a generational tale of games, each having nothing to do with each other but having small intimate stories to tell with most of the gameplay all revolving around a strategy based RPG battle board that is the only resemblance of continuity between them all.
With the seven separate stories in Live a Live you will get the following; Edo Japan, Imperial China, the present day, the Prehistoric era, the Wild West, the near future, and the distant future. While I will say we are in for a mixed bag here, the majority of the good games far outweigh the bad. All of the games have the same art style which is with the HD 2D sprite animation, after all, this is a remake of a previously unreleased game from the Super Nintendo generation that had until now, never seen the light of day for Western audiences.
I’m happy to report that all the English translations and acting are top notch for all of the seven titles in Live a Live and Nintendo has really done a fantastic job with nailing the presentation of all the centuries that it has covered in the game. While the graphics are nothing groundbreaking as I’m sure we’ve all seen this before, it serves the game’s retro heritage.
For me personally, the stand out of this collection of seven was the Wild West, which has you playing as a wanted outlaw who rides into the town of Success after being on the run from a bounty hunter known as Mad Dog, only to find the town is about to be ambushed by a gang known as The Crazy Bunch. It is here that you need to team up with Mad Dog and the townsfolk to prepare for the upcoming bandits and be ready for a final stand. This had the best pacing of the games with a tower defence style of gameplay added, which is not in any other of the games.
Some of the other highlights were ‘The Near Future’ where you play as an orphaned child. This simple premise leads to the investigation as to why so many people are being kidnapped in the city. This is the only of the games that have you playing a typical SNES-generation style RPG with an overhead map where you can move between buildings for your investigations.
The main character you play as can read minds, which helps you in your investigations; I found this story to be the most emotionally charged of the bunch.
Then there was the ‘Present Day’ which was a left-field game set up like the old arcade fighters of its generation – but familiar to many as it looked like an old Streetfighter game. There were six opponents, all of whom have different fighting styles which by fighting them and being hit with their moves would help you learn them and help with the other opponents you are set to fight.
‘Imperial China’ and ‘Twighlight of Edo Japan’ were both OK. The Imperial China story told of a master Monk who was already at the level cap of 10 in the game looking to continue on his legacy by picking three potential worthy successors and training them up to continue his legacy and carry on his teachings.This changes up from a simple fight, train, and next gameplay feature to a tale of revenge when a rival school attacks yours.
The Edo Japan story tasks you with infiltrating a rival clan’s castle to save a prisoner and overthrow the tyrant who has grand plans to take over Japan. This one is very stealth-heavy where you have the option to paint the walls red with your enemies or silently sneak through the castle. While you will need to kill a few in order to level up for the final battle, the game does keep a kill counter on how many you decided to take down in the name of peace.
In the ‘Distant Futures’ story, there was none of the battle board fighting strategy of all, which made for a refreshing change in the games. You play as an AI robot on a spaceship that is carrying an alien to return it to Earth – think of this REALLY ripping off the original Alien movie.
As I said, there are is no fighting in this game apart from an arcade machine that you can play, it really broke the fourth wall with this which was fun. When the Alien Behemoth inevitably gets free, you won’t be able to fight it – the only option is to run. I found this story dragged on because of the slow story progression in a tale that is all too predictable.
The last in this review (but the first I decided to play) is the Prehistoric story. This one had my interest as there was no spoken language and all were grunts and noises, with the speech bubbles giving images of what the other characters were trying to say.
Unfortunately, this was the story where grinding was required the most. Much of it was trial and error as you were hiding another tribe’s woman who was set to be sacrificed.
As you learnt what it was she was after, you were no sooner out in the wild because you were hiding her and this provoked an attack from the other tribe. While you can avoid randome encounters by using the main character’s sense of smell, they would still occur if you didn’t use this feature.
Once you have finished the seven titles, it will then unlock an additional story, which I’ll refrain from spoiling for you all.
Overall the series of games in this package I would recommend a look at for nostalgic purposes and definitely worth picking up if you are a fan of the genre.
The main line stories take around 15-16 hours to complete with most of the stories taking up about three hours of your time per outing.
The battle system isn’t anything to write home about as it is simple to control and master once you get the hang of things – maybe too simple for the hardcore RPG/Strategy gamers out there. Also, you’ll never have a tough time ever getting lost, as the simple feature of waypoints makes sure of this.
This is the first time Live A Live been released in English and the translation was excellent, with the voice acting, music and graphics being a standout. Just be aware that not all of these stories will hit a potential home run, but with the majority of the games are well worth time spent, especially if you love short story formed games that attempt to make you feel something. It also looks pretty and is not too difficult, often succeeding more then not in this package of games.
Definitely pick up this game if you’re a fan of the old school Super Nintendo RPG games and are time poor. These wont take hundreds of hours to complete