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Julius

Live A Live (22nd July 2022)

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7 minutes ago, darksnowman said:

You're getting dafter all the time. A SNES game cannot be in competition with a modern generation game!

I'd argue that it can't even be in competition for that, seeing as it came out in 1994.

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1 hour ago, Glen-i said:

I'd argue that it can't even be in competition for that, seeing as it came out in 1994.

Not sure what you mean (honestly) as I think that's what my quote says anyway.

However, I do know that Nintendo fans get antsy about such caveats as "it's good for a Wii game", "it's good for a 3DS game", "it's good for a Switch game" because what we want is games to be commented on as games and not shackled to how many bits their console was. 

The better SNES game in 94 was DKC and you know it. 
DKC games by Rare > DKC games not by Rare and you know it.
OoT being compared, contrasted and repeatedly judged to be the best game ever is perfectly well and good and you know it.

Tell me this, do you think Banjo-Kazooie is a great N64 game, a great game, or both?

Some examples in the 16-bit RPG realm would be the likes of Chrono Trigger, FF VI and DQ V which all measure up to RPGs from later generations and then some. So while you might be viewing and reviewing LAL on 1994 standards, people who are seeing the game on shop shelves won't be, and nor should they. When Chrono Trigger came out here on DS, no one was telling anyone to temper their expectations because it was a SNES game. Same went for the FF ports on GBA, and DQ on DS. We were falling in love with them for the timeless classics they are. 

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36 minutes ago, darksnowman said:

Not sure what you mean (honestly) as I think that's what my quote says anyway.

However, I do know that Nintendo fans get antsy about such caveats as "it's good for a Wii game", "it's good for a 3DS game", "it's good for a Switch game" because what we want is games to be commented on as games and not shackled to how many bits their console was. 

The better SNES game in 94 was DKC and you know it. 
DKC games by Rare > DKC games not by Rare and you know it.
OoT being compared, contrasted and repeatedly judged to be the best game ever is perfectly well and good and you know it.

Tell me this, do you think Banjo-Kazooie is a great N64 game, a great game, or both?

Some examples in the 16-bit RPG realm would be the likes of Chrono Trigger, FF VI and DQ V which all measure up to RPGs from later generations and then some. So while you might be viewing and reviewing LAL on 1994 standards, people who are seeing the game on shop shelves won't be, and nor should they. When Chrono Trigger came out here on DS, no one was telling anyone to temper their expectations because it was a SNES game. Same went for the FF ports on GBA, and DQ on DS. We were falling in love with them for the timeless classics they are. 

I mean, it's a matter of opinion.

However, DKC 1 is the worst DKC game, so there!

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IT.IS.OVER.

Spoiler

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My final team was Oboro, Pogo, Lei, Akira. These were my favourite characters and most of them were also my strongest. It made sense to use these guys. Posting the above screenshot i've just realised the game places your team front and centre on the new start screen. Getting the team together was a slog though. Having to track them down, swap them out and then track them down again was bothersome.

I did enjoy the final battle though. I was initially disappointed with the choice of music and the battle itself but once the battle against the true form happened things did kick up a notch. It was great seeing all the team coming together but then falling one set at a time until the final blow could be dealt. I will say that the whole of the final chapter is a complete joke thanks to the cola Bottle. What a deliciously broken item. :D 

Bit disappointed that the whole of the last part of the game completely blocks you from taking screenshots. :( 

The ending was strong but it didn't really save the game from the mess that it was. 

Spoiler

FY23Yn-WIAIaU82?format=jpg&name=small

 

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@Hero-of-Time spoiler talk, but I found out something neat about a certain thing.

Spoiler

That final phase? Completely new for the remake. Wasn't in the SNES game. The ending started playing after the chapter boss rematches.

I never would've guessed! It felt so natural!

I take it you didn't bother going for all of the Cosmic armour pieces then?

 

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58 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:

IT.IS.OVER.

About time!

Kind of an extreme final spoiler there but I totally get where you're coming from. I expected to end up being delighted through and through with LAL (a revered "lost" Square game whose demo intrigued me more than enough to be happy to make it a day one purchase), but with each passing chapter it whittled me down. 

I've been trying to let the dust settle a bit before attempting to pull together my thoughts on it. The graphics are obviously lovely and the game itself isn't archaic by any means--though some QoL features would have been a very welcome addition--there was just very little satisfaction to be had a long the way, imo. Fancy graphics and a grid-based turn-based ATB system will only get you so far.

I'm going to mention a couple of brief spoilers now we're talking about how it wrapped up.

I finished it twice. First time I went straight in and 

Spoiler

selected Oersted

because justice was needed. No question. No hesitation.

After witnessing that. I went again

Spoiler

with the gunslinger because he was my 7th and he got done dirty in his criminally short chapter. Then cobbled together a party containing near-future teen angst (was my highest level coming out of his chapter), earth master and the boy Pogo.

What's the point of finishing it with different lead characters then? The odd bit of dialogue changes?

LOVED the pistol shot sound effect when The Kid levelled up. That's what I'm talking about. :cool:

I genuinely could not believe that in this 20-25 hour RPG

Spoiler

1/3 of it is end game!! In fact, probably more depending on how much of the final area you can put up with. Just be over already! Where's the fast travel! And quit it with the boss rushes!

I thought I was levelled pretty well yet those end battles were a drag. Then of course guess who gets thrown into the fray at the 11th hour:

Spoiler

the other three characters that I had not levelled at all!

And I thought I was going to have to reload, go prepare some more and do it all again. But I didn't, and nor did I feel fulfilled in seeing it out, tbh. In fact, I had already squeaked through a trio of situations just to get to the final form, if you get what I'm saying, and that too was just met with a sensation of relief rather than triumph.

I believed the game was building up to go out on a real high with what transpires after finishing the 7 chapters. That hope was swiftly taken from me. 

How well did you save the game? For the longest time, I was just letting it autosave, then recording a proper save upon chapter completion but there was once that caught me out and I had to reset to the most recent save... which was an hour previous. :( It was the time trial bit. The autosave was in it and I could not escape.

1 hour ago, Hero-of-Time said:

Bit disappointed that the whole of the last part of the game completely blocks you from taking screenshots. :( 

Yup, I wanted a customary screenshot of the "thanks for playing" part and couldn't believe they'd disabled it. In a way, it sums up what a bummer the game was.

What I thought I was walking into was a gem of a game we'd never got until now. What it ended up being, I'm not even sure. It seemed to be shaping up to be a nice little curiosity of distinct settings and storytelling methods that were trying to poke and pull at the RPG status quo. For whatever reason, it didn't work for me and I came away feeling meh about the game overall.

Last weekend I was mentioning new game + in my posts, right now I've no intention of firing LAL up again. I'm going to let it rest and perhaps next summer I'll be up for checking a guide to see everything I missed and finding those secret bosses that were all the rage here in the early going.

Right now, I'm glad to say, I'm onto Pikmin 3 and it's looking like a true great from a previous generation.

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Posted (edited)
Spoiler

I've been throwing myself against a wall for the past two days trying to get the Masamune. Boss keeps one shotting me for about 600 damage. The thing is i'm a really low level since I was sneaking by everythnig and now I'm stuck in the Hall of Lanterns with no way back outside. Think I might just restart the entire episode and skip the Masamune, although I heard you can get a laquer box that heals you every turn if you don't kill women, so I might just sneak past them and battle the men on my next run through.

 

Edited by martinist

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1 hour ago, martinist said:
  Edo secret wepon (Hide contents)

I've been throwing myself against a wall for the past two days trying to get the Masamune. Boss keeps one shotting me for about 600 damage. The thing is i'm a really low level since I was sneaking by everythnig and now I'm stuck in the Hall of Lanterns with no way back outside. Think I might just restart the entire episode and skip the Masamune, although I heard you can get a laquer box that heals you every turn if you don't kill women, so I might just sneak past them and battle the men on my next run through.

 

What level are you? You can unlock a move that pretty much one shots the boss. 

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1 hour ago, martinist said:
  Edo secret wepon (Reveal hidden contents)

I've been throwing myself against a wall for the past two days trying to get the Masamune. Boss keeps one shotting me for about 600 damage. The thing is i'm a really low level since I was sneaking by everythnig and now I'm stuck in the Hall of Lanterns with no way back outside. Think I might just restart the entire episode and skip the Masamune, although I heard you can get a laquer box that heals you every turn if you don't kill women, so I might just sneak past them and battle the men on my next run through.

 

You're also not stuck there.

Spoiler

In that hallway, you need to deactivate the mechanism that changes the layout of the room. Experiment with the 2 clicks and keep going to the bottom, you'll eventually turn it back to normal.

 

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2 hours ago, Hero-of-Time said:

What level are you? You can unlock a move that pretty much one shots the boss. 

level 2 or 3, i haven't really aquired any new moves besides the ones i start with since i haven't really been battling.

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46 minutes ago, martinist said:

level 2 or 3, i haven't really aquired any new moves besides the ones i start with since i haven't really been battling.

I also went the stealth route but there is a building/shed that houses 3 spirits. You can enter and exit to respawn them to grind exp. These battles don't count towards the body count because they aren't human.

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Posted (edited)

I actually finished this on Monday night, but a pretty crazy week at work has meant I haven't really been able to round out my thoughts on this game's final third...until now. Let's get to it :p 

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Spoiler

 This chapter started with a bang with its own opening song Go! Go! Steel Titan!, a wonderful homage and mish-mash of anime and Power Rangers/Super Sentai :D 

I've actually had a little bit of a deeper look into it as the voice seemed familiar, and it turns out it was by Hironobu Kageyama, you know: the guy who *actually* worked on Super Sentai openings and, probably more notably, Dragon Ball Z's renowned Cha-La Head Cha-La! Seriously, what a get - this was easily one of my favourite parts of the game and without question the best opening to any of the chapters. 

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Anyways, starting this chapter, I've got to say I loved the aesthetic of this Near Future. So many Near Future's lean too heavily into a dark cyberpunk world, and whlie there are definitely some aspects of that evident throughout the chapter, on the whole it's very brightly coloured and wonderfully lit. The overworld map for the city is also a 10/10, would love to see this look in general applied to other JRPG remakes, it's seriously just that pleasing on the eye. My favourite part of this chapter was probably its presentation, and that includes its music, I love myself some jazz, and the futuristic jazz you get in tracks like Wait for Truth or the manic battle theme Playing with Psychos were right up my alley (the on Matar version used sparingly in this chapter of the latter even more so!). 

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In terms of general gameplay, this was a weird chapter to play last. It felt substantially longer and was packed with much more content than the earlier chapters I played, and that includes easily having the most battles of any chapter I played at this point - which felt like a pacing whiplash, especially seeing as I think this chapter clearly does things with its story where it constantly wants you out and about and moving forwards? Very strange. The mind reading stuff you get through pressing Y was a pretty fun gimmick to start with, and there are definitely some funny and charming moments brought about because of it, but ultimately it felt like it padded out an already packed chapter. 

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That final part of the chapter controlling the Steel Titan? Sign me up for more of that any day of the week, that was incredibly fun to play through and, honestly, just watch play out. But on the whole? I was pretty much caught in no-man's-land by this chapter - didn't love it (even if it has some great moments and a fun OST), but certainly didn't hate it, it just felt like it overstayed its welcome a bit whereas, for example, Imperial China got in and got out before the same thing happened there. 

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Spoiler

Unfortunately Square Enix didn't really care to hide the existence of this chapter from those of us experiencing this game for the first time (its all over the official promo art for the game and the back of the box), so I knew this one was coming. Thankfully, it was one of the stronger chapters in the game thanks to it being more like a traditional JRPG experience than most of the earlier chapters, even if it did get a little long in the tooth (and similar to my seventh chapter, this was only emphasised further by it being longer than what was probably the average length of earlier chapters). 

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What this chapter does surprisingly well is its deconstruction of the Chosen One archetype, which is synonymous to the JRPG genre to the point it feels like a joke at times. It paints pictures of jealousy following the main character, a legendary hero of old growing tired of his adoring fans and choosing a life of solitude, and, ultimately, of a hero's turn. It uses the idea of a silent protagonist really well here, to the point that you would think Oersted was a mute in line with many of his JRPG main character brethren, only to flip that on its head in its final scene: he had a voice all along, and a dark twist of fate - and, honestly, a genuinely cruel one which felt like a knife twist - meant that he wouldn't play the hero anymore. For a game from the 90's to do this? It's something I really appreciate. It's a glorified archetype which has resulted in a lot of lazy writing across many forms of media over the last 20+ years, so it was very refreshing and surprising to be hit with this deconstruction (I mean, in a literal sense too) of the archetype in a remake of a game from so long ago. 

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Something which was nice about this chapter, too, was actually getting to do a bit more exploration in the typical JRPG sense, wandering around a map as you'd expect of the genre. There were unfortunately times where the spaces between locations felt too large, likely to facilitate having to actually fight some battles, and the lack of a teleport or escape feature for dungeon-like areas definitely made this chapter a bit longer than it needed to be. One of my key takeaways from Live A Live is that, while the game has been updated visually to the point that I'd say it looks fantastic, there are some weirdly inconsistent decisions throughout the game when it comes to QoL; for example, the ability to skip through or speed up cutscenes is awesome, but then you don't have an option to speed up battles? Very bizarre. 

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Anyways, on the whole: this was a very good chapter, and thankfully more in line with a traditional JRPG experience. And that final stretch where things come full circle on your journey and the pot starts to boil over was great. 

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Spoiler

Avengers Live-A-Livers, Assemble!

Okay, I'll admit: seeing all of these characters come together and seeing their dynamics together was pretty awesome.

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I've said this a lot up to this point, so say it with me now: this was another weird chapter. I love the premise of these characters from different eras being teleported and having to band together tot ake on this undying and omnipresent evil, but it is just far too tedious for its own good if you want to actually get a complete experience out of this chapter. 

I started with Sundown, for one very simple reason: he had the best witty one-line responses in his chapter and, if nothing else, I felt like it'd add a nice amount of charm to the final chapter, and that belief paid off and then some by the time credits rolled. Starting in the snowy area, I headed up to where the legendary sword was once hanging out only to find Lei, and after a bit of walking around I came across a good few of the others, ending up with a full party of Sundown, Lei, Pogo, and Masaru. I did also come across Akira and Cube shortly after, but when trying to add them to my party, I discovered one of the worst parts of this chapters: characters in your party leaving and returning to wherever you found them if they got replaced in the party. Remember what I was saying before about this map being a little too long to bear betwen locations, and the lack of a teleport/escape dungeon feature, and just ultimately carrying over random archaic elements which stretched out the chapter? This was the culmination of all of that, and I hated the idea of needing to spend hours upon hours going back and forth to swap characters out to level everyone up and experience everyone's dungeons (I mean, only opening their dungeons with them in the party? I know strong items for each character are hideen away in these, but that seems a bit extreme!). 

So I did what any reasonable person would do: I simply planned ahead. I wrote down the recruiting location of each character, then looked up the location of each dungeon, and tackled things accordingly. So, with Sundown, Lei, Pogo and Masaru, I completed their dungeons (well, less Sundown's, because that gave me a tough time and so I left that until last) and then swapped the latter three out for Cube, Oboromaru, and Akira, completed those three dungeons, then assembled my final team (from what I played I decided to go with Sundown, Lei, Pogo and Oboromaru, as they gave a good mix of range and techniques; Cube was a one-hit pony with its laser attack, Masaru had cool, heavy-hitting physical attacks but just seemed a bit sluggish, and Akira took too much time to charge outside of his own chapter). This worked really well, though I've got to say - man, some of these dungeons feel unnecessarily long, even with nice items stowed away at the end. There has to be a better way this final chapter's prep work before the final bout could have been carried out, I feel some of these could have been incorporated in some way into each individual charcter's chapter, especially the shorter ones, such as Masaru's, rather than everyone getting fullblown dungeons in the final chapter - it just dulls the edge of the chapter and steals any sense of immediacy they're trying to achieve. Oh, and also, no way to swap party member order in the overworld? Come on! 

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Anyways, headed off for the final bout, and it was pretty underwhelming to just head through the same dungeon for a third time at this point (?), even if it was cool seeing enemies from different eras being pulled into battle together. Thankfully, completing all of the dungeons meant I was at a decent level here to make quick work of these enemies. As you guys who have finished the game will know, you can't capture footage of the final third or so of this chapter and the eighth chapter (which I thought was pretty irnoic considering that one of the best parts of this game to sell people on is how it looks, but whatever), so I've got nothing to share with regards to that, but I will say that I really enjoyed the final bout once I got to it, it felt like one a worthwhile JRPG boss, and I always appreciate when a team decides to throw the textbook out of the window and just do something for the sake of it being cool - so everyone getting one final finishing move in on the final boss was very fun. Also, I quite liked revisiting each chapter's final boss in the boss rush at the end too, with everyone levelled up it was a lot of fun and no sweat off my back. Really appreciated the decision to use the standard battle themes of every era for their respective bosses to keep things relatively fresh, especially with how the game did a good job of killing the hype of Megalomania. 

Thought the credits were wonderful, especially with how it centred around your final playable character, and similarly, the music for the credits was great too - especially the part where you just hear all of the character themes weaving in and out.

Here was my final team and final screen:

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With the game behind me and many others here, I would be curious to hear how everyone else would rank the chapters? I found myself reconsidering each chapter I had played earlier in the game with each passing chapter, to the point that my list looks very different to how I imagined it would be while I playing through each chapter. For me, it would probably be:

  1. Imperial China
  2. Twilight of Edo Japan
  3. Chapter Eight
  4. Near Future
  5. Finale
  6. The Wild West
  7. Present Day
  8. The Distant Future
  9. Prehistory

To close, I think Live A Live is wonderfully presented, from its gorgeous HD-2D aesthetic, to its bright colour palette, and its surprisingly effective soundtrack, but it is held back by archaic holdovers from the game it is a remake of. It suffers from spreading its quality thin across some of its chapters, where it becomes apparent that while each and every chapter has unique ideas to bring to the table - be it a mechanic or a setting - none of these ideas are fleshed out in any great and meaningful way, which I think is also apparent in the depth of its combat (or, rather, the lack thereof). With some chapters being as short or as light on combat as they are, the order you blindly tackle these chapters in will massively colour your experience with the game, and for me it resulted in slightly longer chapters feeling substantially longer than the short chapters I played through by comparison, as well as battle-heavy chapters feeling like a slog compared to chapters with minimal combat, which made the game's pacing pretty hard to bear at times (which is the first time I've said as much for a JRPG as short as this one).

In short: great presentation, good ideas, but an execution lying somewhere between poor and inconsistent. I think the most damning thing about this game is that it is such a difficult game to recommend to anyone who isn't already willing to commit and see a JRPG through from start to finish and has some level interest in 90's JRPG's, so your mileage may vary. 

Edited by Julius

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Spoiler

Boy, @Julius, if you hated how swapping characters worked, you lucked out with choosing Sundown Kid as your Finale character, because he's very annoying to find.

I'm waiting for my N-E review to go up, so I won't give my chapter rankings yet, but my final team was Pogo, Sundown, Cube, and Yun.

Yes, I'm the weirdo who didn't choose Lei. I saw he starts at Level 1 and thought, "I bet he's the best choice", and with all his stats at 99 (except HP, Accuracy, and Evasion) by the time I finished, I regret nothing!

Cube is also amazing, because it's the only character with a party heal move, one that sometimes triggers when it takes damage. Pretty much carried me through the final boss.

Something that isn't obvious, is that there's 5 optional bosses in Chapter 9, you likely saw one in Sundown's dungeon, and one in Pogo's, they each give a piece of the best armour in the game. But the other three are really bizarre in how you find them.

There's one for going back to Cube's dungeon after you swipe the weapon there, one for legging it to the previous screen right when Odio shows up in the final dungeon, and one for running away from battles 100 times!

 

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livealivebanner.620x0.webp

 N-Europe Review 

Thanks go to @S.C.G, @Jonnas and @RedShell for helping get it up.

On 8/6/2022 at 2:27 AM, Julius said:

With the game behind me and many others here, I would be curious to hear how everyone else would rank the chapters?

I mentioned I would rank it once the review is up, so:

Spoiler
  1. Imperial China
  2. Finale
  3. Chapter Eight
  4. Near Future
  5. Wild West
  6. Twilight of Edo Japan
  7. Prehistory
  8. Distant Future
  9. Present Day

 

Edited by Glen-i
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