LIVE A LIVE Review thumbnail


A SNES hidden gem returns

Mary Billington

Reviewed by playing a Nintendo Switch on

LIVE A LIVE is rated Teen by the ESRB

Experience the lives of 8 distinct characters from the dawn of man to the distant future in this remake of a wonderful Super NES RPG.

│ Our reviewers are discouraged from reading other reviews before writing theirs in order to avoid contributing to an echo chamber. 🦚

LIVE A LIVE screenshot 1
This sheriff is one wise fellow

What is LIVE A LIVE?

LIVE A LIVE is a game unlike any other. Although it's classified as an RPG, it actually contains 9 entirely different chapters each with its own characters, world, and gameplay. When you first boot it up, you can choose one of 7 chapters to start with and you can complete them in any order you want while unlocking the final 2 chapters after you complete the initial 7. v1d30chumz 44-212-99-248

Each chapter is set in a different time in human history starting from the prehistoric era and ending with a chapter set in a sci-fi future. As each chapter is unique, I will go over what I thought of them individually starting with the chapters that I enjoyed most.

LIVE A LIVE screenshot 2
Good thing Pogo had beans for breakfast!

Prehistoric grunts

The first chapter that I selected was the one that gave me the most laughs. You play the role of Pogo, a caveman who finds himself in a battle against another group of cavemen while trying to save a woman who he instantly falls in love with. This entire chapter has no words in its voice acting yet it's hilarious watching the story unfold through grunting and expression bubbles. Like the rest of the chapters that are heavier on the gameplay side, Prehistory makes use of a turn-based battle system although you take out the bad guys using a variety of gastrointestinal moves. Pogo's monkey buddy also tags along for the adventure. 🐒

Japanese cartoons

The Near Future chapter stars Akira, a young guy who lives in an orphanage that he dearly loves. You walk around a map of a Japanese town while fighting enemies after bumping into them and talking to folks in order to unlock the next part of the story. I particularly enjoyed the battle scenes in this chapter where you get to fight as a giant robot. 🤖

LIVE A LIVE screenshot 3
Folks in those buildings are getting quite the show

A traditional JRPG

In The Middle Ages, you play as Ooersted, a man who has proven himself worthy to the King and is betrothed to the princess. Of course, the princess is taken by a demon early on which leaves Ooersted on a quest to amass a team of fighters in order to take them down and save the princess. In this chapter, you control a black mage, white mage, and a strong melee attacker as well as the main character which I found particularly enjoyable as it hearkens back to more traditional JRPGs like classic Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy games. 🏰

Ninja moves

The final chapter that I spent a lot of time on was Twilight of Edo Japan where you play as ninja Oboromaru as he makes his way through castle grounds to save a prisoner. In this chapter, you can choose whether to play it stealthily while not killing any guards or go for total bloodshed while taking out anyone who approaches. The castle is tricky to traverse without a guide but if you take the time to enjoy the full map, you'll come cross some pretty fun situations like swimming underwater and running lightly across the rooftops. 🏯

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Can I infiltrate this compound unseen?

Showdown at Sundown

Now onto some of the chapters that I found myself quickly working through because they were either not that interesting or just plain short. The first is The Wild West where you play as Sundown, a cowboy tasked with defending a town. This chapter mainly involves going into every building while finding items to use as traps then choosing which villagers to task with setting up each trap. It's all over quite quickly if you listen to what the villagers say in order to guarantee success. 🤠

Sci-fi with Cube

Next up is The Distant Future where you play as a robot named Cube. It's set aboard a spaceship that seems to be sabotaged. This chapter is definitely influenced by sci-fi films such as Alien and although I found these references enjoyable, the gameplay is barebones as you mostly walk around the ship while avoiding an enemy on your way to the next destination which moves the story along. 🚀

LIVE A LIVE screenshot 5
I hope nothing pops out of this guy's chest

I know Kung-fu

In Imperial China, you play as an old Chinese master who is looking to recruit fighters and train them in martial arts before he inevitably passes away. Even though the initial areas have you exploring the map and bumping into new characters, the rest of the chapter after you find your recruits is mostly dull with lengthy training scenes. 🥋

Mortal Kombat

Finally, the Present Day chapter thoroughly mixes things up and presents you with a fairly simple fighting game complete with opponent selection screen. Here, your goal is to learn your enemy's moves and you can only do so by triggering them to perform said move. It's a short collection of quick battles that will be over before you know it, especially if you complete them in an order that gives you the optimal advantage against the next opponent. 👊

LIVE A LIVE screenshot 6
Did I put the wrong game in or...?

Battle system

Each chapter of LIVE A LIVE includes at least one battle where you'll be fighting enemies on a grid and this system is rather enjoyable. You pick from a menu of attacks that cover different tiles on the grid depending on the attack type. Some attacks will hit multiple enemies but with low damage while others will focus on one enemy. There are status ailments and elements that will do more or less damage depending on your enemy's weakness, too. Some status ailments even affect the grid so if a character stays in a spot that has been infected, they will continue to feel its negative effects until they move. Choosing where to place your characters and watching the enemy attack patterns is quite fun but there isn't a whole lot of depth with the battles or the equipment systems either.

This is actually a theme with LIVE A LIVE in general as what it has going for it is the great variety in characters, settings, and gameplay but it doesn't do any one style of gameplay exceptionally well. If each chapter was its own game then it would be a middle-of-the-road title but by combining small pieces of each game into one, you get something much more special where you'll be excited to unlock the next chapter just to see what the characters and gameplay will be like. 😊

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Time to give these dudes some Mother's Shame


LIVE A LIVE is presented quite beautifully with detailed pixel-perfect visuals that have a great depth to them in some chapters, especially when you reach The Middle Ages and Edo Japan. There's also the odd scene that utilizes interesting camera angles to take you closer to the characters and some even look close to an FMV. The sound quality is top-notch with talented voice acting throughout and a suitable orchestral soundtrack. I particularly enjoyed the battle music when fighting a boss as it really pumped me up! 😄

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A lot of the environments are nothing short of lovely

LIVE A LIVE kept me excited for what the next chapter would entail with each one boasting unique characters, settings, and gameplay so it's a perfect game for anyone who relishes variety. I just wish each chapter was fleshed out with more depth and unique elements.

  • + Chapters feature a great mix of different gameplay styles
  • + Detailed pixel visuals and quality audio
  • + Solid use of humour throughout
  • - Individual chapters don't present anything particularly amazing on their own
  • - Inconsistent depth and quality
8.1 out of 10
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Watch Mary play LIVE A LIVE
Super NES RPGs Trivia

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