Live A Live 26th Anniversary Event: Comments From Original Staff

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Square Enix might launch new game projects for JRPG Live A Live if fan demand is high enough, such as a remaster localizing the game for the first time.

Square Enix could end up bringing a Live A Live remaster to the west, officially localizing the game for the first time, assuming fan demand is high enough.

Square Enix held a special live stream for the 26th anniversary of legendary omnibus SNES RPG Live A Live on October 3. The stream featured Live A Live Director Takashi Tokita, Composer Yoko Shimomura, Battle Director Nobuyuki Inoue (Zoom), Character Pixel Art Illustrator Kazuyuki Kurashima (Zoom), and Nobuo from comedy duo Penguins (huge Square Enix fan and always on SaGa streams). Takashi Tokita jokingly started the stream introducing himself as Hironobu Sakaguchi since he has the same stache now due to Covid-19 stay home. After everyone introduced themselves and a kanpai, the stream started for real.

The stream alternated with chit chat between the staff, answering fans’ questions sent in beforehand via Twitter, and a watch together of the “Live A Live A Live in Shinjuku 2019” concert. Sadly no Live A Live remaster or anything was announced, but it was still incredibly interesting if you’d like to hear about an old game’s development stories.

During one of the Q&A segments in particular, a non Japanese fan sent in an English question asking if Live A Live could be officially released in the west soon. Similarly to how Japan exclusive Square games such as Romancing SaGa 3 and Seiken Densetsu 3 were finally localized for the first time recently.

Director Takashi Tokita first translated the question back in Japanese for the Japanese fans watching, and then answered. Tokita first noted that while Live A Live is celebrating its 26th anniversary, they never did a sequel, a remaster, a remake, or any new game project. The only new release was the game coming to the Wii’s Virtual Console some years ago. Tokita said it’s thanks to the fans’ support that they could do this anniversary stream. And if fans keep passionately supporting Live A Live, something might happen one day in some form.

You can hear that part of the stream at the 2:17:20 timestamp.

Long story short, no announcement happened on stream, but Square Enix is teasing something might happen one day. Perhaps a Live A Live remaster might come soon.

Here’s a summary of everything that happened on the Live A Live 26th anniversary stream.

Note that this contains spoilers for Live A Live.

Takashi Tokita first explained how the Live A Live project came to life. Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, Seiken Densetsu (Mana series) and SaGa already existed, so they wanted to do something different. The first idea they got and kept, was making an atypical story with independent chapters where everything would tie up together at the end with a typical story instead, to surprise players. That’s why they wrote the medieval chapter first, but it’s the last one you unlock along with the final chapter. Later on in the stream, they also explained Live A Live was born because the ROM size on Super Famicom kept increasing, so they realized they could make an RPG with tons of different themes like Westerns, Sci-fi, hot blooded fights, etc. And instead of a very long RPG with the same themes for many hours, players could be able to freely change themes/chapter when they feel like it for a change of pace.

The Near Future chapter is one of Nobuo’s favorites, especially how passionate it is, be it the dialogue or everything else. So he’s wondering how the dialogue was made during their meetings back then. Takashi Tokita answered the Near Future chapter was first written by Nobuyuki Inoue and then him and the others did a few changes and added the screenplay etc. Famous lines like “Rerero hoge” or “Keep apologizing to me in the afterlife” were all written by Nobuyuki Inoue. Takashi Tokita also explained that back then, they used to polish scenario and dialogues lines in games until the last minute. Checking what works best when play testing the game, since they didn’t have to worry about voice acting.

At the end of the Modern Age chapter, protagonist Masaru Takahara has dialogues lines explaining he’ll uses the skills of all the previously defeated opponents at the tournament to beat the final boss. At some point in his lines though, Masaru says he’ll use “Jackie’s power (“chikara”) and Morgan’s power (“Power”)”. So he’s basically saying the same trait twice. Tokita explained he only realized that years later when seeing fans chat about Live A Live and that scene on the net. He said they were probably supposed to change “power” with something else but forgot.

There’s a message saying “congratulations to the newlyweds” at the end of the Bakumatsu chapter. It was to congratulate Nobuyuki Inoue and his wife Yukiko Sasaki, a designer who worked on the backgrounds of the Bakumatsu chapter and the Middle Ages chapter. The Bakumatsu Chapter was made by planer Okuma.

The final dialogue choice in the Bakumatsu chapter lets you pick the answer “interesting”. If you do so, there’s a scene where Oboro protects Ryoma Sakamoto from assassins. That’s an alternate depiction of the Omiya Incident, an alternate future where Ryoma Sakamoto would have survived the assassination attempt.

As for how they came up with the Live A Live battle system, Battle Director Nobuyuki Inoue thought back then there were many turn-based games, so they wanted to do a new, more advanced version of it. He thought it’d be fun if they included tactical RPG elements. They wanted to do something like the ATB system of Final Fantasy but where you’d have more control over the characters’ actions, with typical Tactical RPG elements like range and positioning. After a very tedious phase of trial and error where they tested many different things, they arrived at the final battle system which ended up in the game.

They also explained how at first the game had stats like HP etc, but they were hidden to the player, and for example you could only tell a character was low HP if their sprite changed to a crouching position to show they’re wounded. Hironobu Sakaguchi told them to not do that and show the HP to players. Tokita agreed since some players would have found the game too stressful. He pointed out there are multiple stats like that which exist in the game but aren’t shown. A relic of that idea of not showing stats to players.

Nobuyuki Inoue explained the intelligence stat of the protagonist of the Modern Age chapter, Masaru Takahara, caps at 25 for no particular reason, and it’s only something he noticed after fans pointed it out. Tokita said it was to accentuate each character’s strengths and weaknesses, and how Masaru’s strength lies in his physical force not brains. Either way, this turned out to be a good thing as nowadays Live A Live Japanese fans considers the 25th to be Takahara Day and always share fanart and fanmade content on that date.

The seven protagonists of each chapters were each chara designed by a different Shogakukan affiliated mangaka. However the protagonist of the Medieval Age chapter was made by Square. They did a FF-like knight protagonist to make it look as classic RPG as possible. Apparently Tokita drew a rough draft on paper, and then Kiyoumi Kato made the finished pixel art version.

Yoko Shimomura then shared some stories about her work on the Live A Live OST. She explained making the BGM for the Medieval Age chapter was the hardest. Because she wanted to make it last, but was asked to make it first. It was her first job after leaving Capcom for Square so she felt a lot of pressure too. When she felt at a loss, she remembers Nobuo Uematsu also supported her and told her she could ask him about anything. She had a very hard time with the first BGM she made, “魔王への叙曲”, but after that she started to grasp the game’s image, and starting the second one she made, “凛然なる戦い” every BGM was quickly completed.

Moreover, Yoko Shimomura also explained the BGM with a Chinese title, “鳥児在天空飛翔 魚児在河里游泳”, featured in the Kung Fu Chapter. It’s read as “Tori ha Sora wo Tobi Sakana ha Kawa wo Oyogu”. Which means “The bird flies in the sky, the fish swim in the river”. She asked a programmer from China to translate the title to Chinese for her so she could use it.

The final chapter of the game has 5 hidden bosses who each drop one piece of the best equipment in the game, the Erial series. They were asked how did they decide the names for these bosses and the equipment. Nobuyuki Inoue bluntly said he doesn’t remember at all. Erial was probably in reference to air, like the “wind who protects you from petrifaction”, because that’s what the equipment does, but he didn’t put too much thought in picking the names back then.

As for the bosses, Yuraukus is Square backwards (if you do it syllables by syllables like in Japanese, not letter by letter). The name Jaggy Egg originates from pixel art jaggies. There’s also Death Prophet, and how you need to run away from battle 100 times to trigger its boss fight. They don’t remember why Death Prophet is named that, but Tokita said back then to Inoue that 100 times was way too much. They still did it at the end. Tokita noted that nowadays running away 100 times in an RPG wouldn’t be considered a lot. Especially as back then the battle encounter rate in games tended to be higher than now. (Note that how to find the hidden bosses was explained in the game’s strategy book they released later.)

The beginning of the Medieval Age chapter shows the tournament finals fight between Oersted and Straybow, Before the fight begins, the king says the winner will marry his daughter princess Alicia. Tokita explained that the king probably did tell his daughter before that. However, the king just wanted the stronger person to inherit him and didn’t really care about his daughter’s feelings. Tokita said he feels bad for Alicia.

The Sundown Kid, protagonist in the Western chapter, can keep drinking milk endlessly because it’s just a typical game thing. Games back then had simple choices like “yes” and “no”, with the dialogue looping until you pick the right one. Tokita said that if they had enough memory maybe they would have made something like, if Sundown reaches 30 glasses of milk, then he goes to the toilet and you get a game over. But then everyone would have said the game sucks if they got a game over that way.

Lastly, regarding future events, Tokita said he hopes the Covid-19 crisis will be over by 2021 and they’ll be able to do a live event and concert with everyone. Next time they do a concert they’re considering live streaming it too. They’d also like to do more events for the 30th anniversary in 2024.

That’s all the information shared. We’ll be sure to tell you if another Live A Live events happens and if a remaster or a new project ever gets announced by Square Enix.

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