One day, minding my own business, I came across a Super Famicom game, which seemed to be from Squaresoft. Being the big fanboy that I am, I got it. Well, I was in for a surprise. This little game called Live a Live was awesome!
The overall plot at times might seem somewhat corny, but it is how everything comes together in the end that makes the story so great. Similar to Dragon Warrior/Quest IV, the game is split up into eight chapters and a final chapter that links them all together and explains who the character is and what their place in society is. However, unlike DW/Q IV, in which you played the chapters in a certain order, you can pick the order. So, if you feel like playing as a caveman first, go for it. Feel like going around as a robot? Square's got you covered.
Most of the characters are player friendly and their subplots never really get confusing. Pogo (first on the list), the cave man/boy, lives in a society without words and is soon caught up in a rescue mission, along with his best friend Gori the Gorilla, to save his new girlfriend, Beri, from being sacrificed to a dinosaur. Then there is Orboro, a young ninja who is sent to stop the Shogun, Ode, from ushering in a new dark age in feudalistic Japan.
The old and funny Roshi (no relation to the Roshi of DBZ fame) is the Chinese shinshanken master, who is looking for children he can teach the art of shinshanken. Then comes the very western tale of the outlaw, the Sunset Kid (most likely based on the Sundance Kid) who must defend a town from criminals along with the help of Mad Dog, the very man trying to kill him for the bounty on his head.
Next there is the story of Masaru, the Japanese wrestler, who is trying to become the strongest fighter by fighting the strongest fighter from each country (Hulk Hogan even shows up). After that is the VERY Anime-ish near future chapter with its cool character, Akira, who is caught up in a conspiracy to resurrect an ancient evil.
The last of the "normal" chapters is the 2001: a Space Odyssey-inspired story of Cube (who, ironically, is a sphere), the robot who is stuck on a ship with a malfunctioning computer, NOT named HAL, and a crew who all become paranoid.
Finally, there are the last two chapters which are actually one whole split into two parts, but because it would spoil the plot to talk about them, I'll wrap up the (lengthy) story section.
Although at first, LaL's gameplay may seem exactly just like one of the earlier SNES Final Fantasies, it is actually rather different. First of all, all of the characters appear on screen, not just the main character. Also, some characters have "tool" like abilities that are very similar to Breath of Fire's tool system, for example, Pogo can sniff out enemies to alert you if you are close to an enemy (most battles AREN'T random), Akira can read peoples' minds, and Orboro (only in his chapter) can use the Cloak of Invisibility, which can cause some VERY Metal Gear Solid style sneaking around.
Battles are also very fun. First of all, there is no MP; all moves are free to use, but some do have a "charge" time. Also, if a character HP is reduced to 0, they don't need some rare item to revive them, just a simple heal spell will bring them back. But, if they are hit while knocked out, they will be removed from the battle. Also, characters are automatically healed after battle.
Although the game came out after FF VI/III, the game looks more like FFIV and FFV
out of battle, and the character sprites do suffer from being rather grainy and can be a bit misleading. For example, you would think Orboro was an adult or at least a guy in his late teens, but he is actually a little kid in-between 12 and 14. In battle, the graphics are much better and the characters are nicely animated. The spells/techniques don't really have much animation, even Pogo's strongest attack resembles his weakest. The game truly doesn't take advantage of the Super Famicomís power and leaves much to be desired.
The music is simply great: it always fits in with the time period. The prehistoric time period features many drums and primeval beats, the Chinese chapter's music fits perfectly with the surrounding, and the music in the Wild West chapter is the most fitting of all, from its battle music to the town theme. The boss music is the same in all of the periods, but is awesome and is up there with FFVI's boss music.
The sound effects are rather nice and the game even features voices, which, although kept to screams, grunts and the initial screaming of "SQUARESOFT!" in the opening screen, are not grainy and nicely done.
I really recommend getting this game. The game is great, and if you can get past the graphics and the average length, you'll love it.