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Live A Live: A Pixelated Odyssey Through Time and Tales

Square Enix’s Live A Live, originally released in 1994 for the Super Famicom and now revitalized with a remake, is a shining example of short-form storytelling in the JRPG genre. Breaking away from the trend of lengthy and demanding RPGs, Live A Live offers players a delightful and diverse experience through eight seemingly unrelated short stories, each set in different eras and locations.

A Pixel-Art Triumph

Live A Live captures the essence of classic pixel-art RPGs, but its true triumph lies in its ability to tell compelling narratives within a shorter timeframe. In a gaming landscape where epic RPGs demand extensive time commitments, Live A Live provides depth and narrative scope without overstaying its welcome. The pixelated visuals add a nostalgic charm, reminiscent of the mid-90s JRPG era.

Eight Protagonists

LIVE A LIVE | Nintendo Switch games | Games | Nintendo

, Eight Tales

The game introduces players to eight protagonists, each representing a different era in human history, including prehistoric, imperial China, the middle ages, the wild west, Edo-period Japan, the present day, and the near and distant future. The brilliance of Live A Live lies in its storytelling, allowing players to seamlessly transition between chapters, ensuring there’s always something new and exciting to discover.

Emotional Resonance in Imperial China

One standout chapter, “The Successor,” set in Imperial China, stands out as a masterpiece of storytelling. Players assume the role of a Shifu, a martial arts master nearing the end of his life, training three pupils in the dying art. The chapter cleverly uses RPG mechanics to convey a sense of aging and decline, making each decision and battle emotionally resonant. The themes of imparting life lessons and uncovering hidden potential are expertly woven into the narrative.

Homages and Gameplay Gimmicks

Even the game’s weaker chapters shine thanks to their engaging gameplay gimmicks and homages to popular media. For instance, the present-day chapter, “The Strongest,” brings a unique twist to the typical fight-night scenario, incorporating clever mechanics and enthusiasm. The game finds ways to keep players engaged, whether they are fans of tokusatsu shows, spaghetti westerns, kung fu dramas, or sci-fi space dramas.

Live A Live review: Square Enix's remake has too little character - Polygon

Tactical Turn-Based Combat

Live A Live employs a turn-based combat system, but it goes a step further by introducing grid-based positioning during battles. This strategic element adds depth to the gameplay, requiring players to consider the placement of their party members. The range of attacks becomes crucial, and learning to efficiently manage the grid becomes essential for success. The game keeps combat fresh and engaging throughout its diverse chapters.

Unleashing Psychic Powers and Elemental Attacks

The near-future chapter introduces the character Akira, who possesses psychic powers. These powers not only provide insights into the minds of others but also unleash powerful and comical psychic attacks during battles. The game’s elemental damage system, tied to the type of attack used, adds a layer of strategy as players strategically chip away at enemies before their turns.

The Mastery of Chapter Themes

Live A Live’s strength lies in its ability to masterfully execute various chapter themes, offering players a smorgasbord of genres and settings. Whether you find yourself exploring the prehistoric world, engaging in martial arts in Imperial China, or navigating the present-day wrestling scene, each chapter feels distinct and captivating. The game’s commitment to delivering a diverse narrative experience sets it apart in the JRPG realm.

Live A Live Review: Classic RPG saves its best moments for last | Digital  Trends

Nostalgia Meets Modernity

The remake by Square Enix successfully blends nostalgia with modern gaming elements. The pixel art remains faithful to the original while receiving enhancements that make it visually appealing to contemporary audiences. The vibrant characters, diverse settings, and imaginative storytelling create a harmonious fusion of the old and the new.

A Short, Sweet, and Unforgettable Journey

Live A Live’s successful remake by Square Enix is a testament to the brilliance of concise storytelling in the JRPG genre. The game’s ability to deliver impactful narratives, diverse gameplay mechanics, and nods to various genres makes it a standout title. In a world filled with sprawling RPGs, Live A Live proves that sometimes, a good story doesn’t need to be a long one.

The Legacy Lives On

As players embark on this pixelated odyssey through time and tales, Live A Live leaves a lasting impression. Its influence on the JRPG genre is undeniable, showcasing that even in the world of fast-paced gaming, there’s room for intricate narratives and meaningful experiences. Live A Live stands tall as a triumph of storytelling, proving that a game can be short, sweet, and unforgettable all at once.

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