Live A Live
Platform: Super Nintendo Entertainment System
September 2nd, 1994
English Translation: Aeon Genesis
Live a Live is different from most other console RPGs. Instead of playing one story, you play eight. Each scenario is set in a different time and place, and has a unique character as its hero. There appears to be no immediate connection between each scenario, until you've played through a few and begin noticing certain similarities between those you meet each time...
The title of the game comes from the freedom of movement and choice the player has in completing each story. In one scenario, you can run away from many battles, effectively refusing to kill certain characters. Another scenario feels like a soap opera, set in outer space; the story's exposition depends on who you talk to, and you only have enough time to talk to a few...
Additionally, certain scenarios have optional boss battles and conflicting goals to fulfill, as well as multiple endings. The game actually has a decent replay value, owing to the myriad ways a scenario can play out.
Some reviews complain that the storylines are rather typical, or even rip-offs of some movies or books. But for a videogame, the stories are pretty unusual.
List of scenarios:
- Science-Fiction Chapter - Mechanical Heart
Main Character: A small, round robot.
Story: A spaceship carrying dangerous cargo heads towards Earth. The ship's mechanic creates a robot, who quietly observes the unfolding story...
There are no battles in this scenario except the boss battle. The people you choose to talk to trigger certain events; in order to know all the facts behind the story, you should play through at least twice.
- Old West Chapter - Wandering
Main Character:A silent cowboy.
Story: It's the typical western. A strong, silent cowboy and his talkative rival save a town from an evil gang. Again, there are few battles. To defeat the gang, you search the town for materials with which to make traps, then direct each citizen to setup the traps around town. You can't spend too much time looking for materials or morning will come before you're ready. Also, some townspeople are faster than others with the traps.
- Near Future Chapter - Flow
Main Character: A telepathic teenage boy.
Story: An orphan teams up with a dead turtle and a snack vendor to defeat evil scientists. This chapter gets rather boring as you must fight skull-headed punks over and over again on the world map. You get to pilot a huge mecha in the end, and fight a really freaky boss.
- Kung Fu Chapter - Inheritance
Main Character: An old kung-fu master.
Story: The last master of the ancient art of Shinsanken searches for disciples to carry on the tradition. Levelling-up occurs not through random battles, but by defeating each disciple in battle. The moves you use to defeat them determine which moves they learn.
- Prehistoric Chapter - Contact
Main Character: A green-haired caveman.
Story: In a dry land inhabited by mammoths and gazelle, there live two competing groups of cavemen. One day, a pretty pink-haired cavegirl escapes from one tribe to the other...
By pressing the Y button, you can detect the scent of nearby animals. After each battle you can find meat, bones, stone, or other materials. Take these to your friendly caveman-artisan, and he will construct for you brand-new weapons, armor, and guriguriwakas, whatever those are.
- Bakumatsu Chapter - Secret Orders
Main Character: A ninja.
Story: An evil lord is about to take over Japan. The ninja master sends out the best ninja to infiltrate his sprawling villa and defeat the evil lord. He can avoid detection with a cloak of invisibility, or systematically murder everyone he meets.
The sheer amount of options in this scenario make this one of the best in the game. First, you don't even have to enter the villa. You can turn tail and run, though of course it will be a bad ending if you do so.
Second, there are two optional goals in this chapter: You can choose to kill no one, or you can try to kill every single person in the villa. Both are very hard to accomplish.
Third, there are many entrances and exits between the different sections of the villa. The bosses and special characters you come across will appear in different order depending on the path you take. Some sections you can skip entirely, if you know where you're going.
- Present Day Chapter - The Strongest
Main Character: A muscular fighter.
Story: A fighting game, complete with character-select. There is no overworld-wandering, just fighting.
Your character wishes to become the strongest fighter on Earth; in order to do so, he fights the best fighters in the world, learning the techniques they use against him. This is the quickest of the scenarios.
- Medieval Chapter - King of Demons
Main Character: An armored knight.
Story: The most unusual scenario, while seeming to be the most typical. It only appears after you've completed the other seven.
The king's daughter is stolen by a demon-lord, and the knight engaged to marry her must save her. You travel the map, fighting random battles, recruiting a team of warriors to defeat the demon.
Halfway through, the story gets darker as the characters die off. The ending of the scenario is either very sad, or very amusing, depending on how you look at things.
- Final Chapter
Main Character: Whoever you choose.
Story: The characters team up to fight the final boss. There is one character who, if you choose him as your main one, will result in a very special Final Chapter...
Sources: Aeon Genesis translation of Live A Live; Gamefaqs.com