System: Super Famicom
Release: September 2, 1994
I would not play L-A-L (pronounced “Life Alive”; take note of how the second “Live” is spelled backwards on the logo) until almost 16 years after its initial release.
The game was never officially released outside of Japan, where it has nearly been forgotten. The game was initially fan translated by the group Aeon Genesis; their first translation patch for the original Japanese ROM was released on December 25, 2001.
Unfortunately, the ROM that I downloaded contained the original translation patch. The 2.0 patch was released on May 28, 2008 – and has received over two million hits. The 2.0 patch boasts a different font for every chapter of the game; properly proportional text in the menus; and better descriptions for equipment, items, and skills. The original translation patch has some annoyances, like glitches that occasionally let the original Japanese text show in menus.
When you boot up the game, a cheerful digitized voice says, “Squaresoft!”
L-A-L lets you play through seven short chapters that can be played in any order. Once the seven initial chapters have been finished, a final chapter is unlocked. Each chapter has its own gimmick, and takes place in its own time period all over the world…and beyond .
“Contact” – Prehistory
“Inheritance” – Ancient China
“Secret Orders” – Feudal Japan
“Wandering” – The Wild West
“The Strongest” – Present Day
“Blood Flow” – Near Future, Japan
“Mechanical Heart” – Distant Future, Outer Space
One last tidbit before we begin the LP: Each chapter had a different character designer. Unfortunately, due to the simplicity of the game’s graphics, their distinct styles do not really shine through, unlike in, say, Chrono Trigger with its larger character sprites. The most recognizable artist is probably Gosho Aoyama, the creator of the long-running manga Detective Conan.
August 27, 2010: I try the “fanslated” version of Live-A-Live. I picked the prehistoric caveman’s chapter.
I learned about L-A-L years ago, in an article about Seiken Densetsu III. The title sounds funny to me, like it should be “Live-A-Life”.
This chapter tells its story with expressions and special word balloons. The gameplay gimmick lets Pogo sniff the area for things to interact with.
December 15, 2010: Pogo earns the ability to fart in battle. EVOLUTION!
Hey, no one said it was the classiest chapter in the game. This skill can poison enemies…
Characters can learn skills by leveling up and by fulfilling certain criteria. Due to the shortness of the game, grinding is not really practical, and barely necessary, if at all.
Then, he falls for a cavewoman. She KISSES him and joins his party. Her name is Beru.
March 30, 2010: Pogo farts on mammoths. It’s actually an effective move.
Gori’s pose upon leveling up is terrifying.
Gori is a gorilla and Pogo’s friend. He also has a flatulence attack.
He can throw his own poo at enemies! At least, I think that’s what it is.
Apparently, we have to give Beru lots of meat. Unless there’s something special that we can find…
April 23, 2011: A surreal turn in Pogo’s scenario. We were invaded by a different tribe (the Kuu Tribe) that wanted Beru!
We fought the Kuu tribe off, but their facepalm-loving leader, Zaki, stepped up. His tendency to attack with the leaf over his genitals is disturbing. But it turns out he was – a snake?!
I think I got confused. Zaki wears a lizard over his crotch. I remember him turning into a snake, but he’s not a snake? I’m confusing, is the point.
The leader of Pogo’s tribe tells Pogo that he can’t date Beru. The leader throws Pogo, Beru, and Gori out of the village, the ungrateful bastard.
Our heroes were then attacked by a mammoth.
I love throwin’ Gori’s crap all over the battlefield.
Apparently, mammoths are easily confused if surrounded. Evolution, baby!
The battle system has enemies and allies move and fight on a battlefield that consists of a grid. The squares are subtly worked into the graphics of each background. Some abilities have different ranges, which helps make the game a little deeper. Characters can move one square at a time on the battlefield, but enemies can interrupt your movements.
A battle every two steps? OH GOD!!
Jeez, calm down.
The Kuu Tribe lives across the street. Our trio sneaked into their cave and lit the campfire. Then Gori blew a fart on it…
The battles in this game are rather like chess, only WAY more fun and your pieces have more than one HP.
I like chess, I just can’t win to save my life.
Also, that description of chess basically sounds like Fire Emblem. (rimshot)
Pogo’s scenario is basically Primal Rage: The RPG.
Except it’s not, because this is mainly about humans fighting amongst each other and dinosaurs instead of just dinos. What is wrong with you?
It took me forever to get out of that trap. The key is tracking Zaki’s scent.
You earn abilities really quickly in this game. It’s fun.
Once you reach deeper into the Kuu Tribe’s base, Gori gets designs of his own on some females. I learned why this game wasn’t released in the oh-so innocent (cough, Monster Party, cough) days of heavy Nintendo censorship.
Next, I got really annoyed at this part where you have to fight an onslaught of Kuu Tribe warriors.