An ambitious game by Square, featuring multiple story lines set in seven time periods ("chapters"), which can be played in any order before culminating in one hell of a Wham Episode. These story lines each provide a different setting and genre. Although the storylines are mostly standalone at first, they eventually combine into a single plotline that thrives on well-executed Player Punch moments.The chapters of the game each draw on influences from different sources, as wide and varied as 80's anime, spaghetti Westerns, fighting games, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Aliens, to name but a few. The game tends to play these tropes straight for the most part, but at times subverts them just as happily.Live A Live also deviates somewhat from the usual Squaresoft games when it comes to the battle system, being somewhere between standard turn-based combat and a Tactics-style system. Although the battle system stays the same throughout the game, each chapter has its own distinct atmosphere and art style. They are, in chronological order:
The prehistoric slapstick comedy romance chapter, starring Pogo the green-haired caveman and his monkey friend,
The classical Chinese kung fu nature chapter, starring an old, dying Xin Shan Quan master and his potential successors Li, Yuan, and Sammo,
The (initially hidden) Wham Episode medieval fantasy quest chapter, starring the young knight Oersted,
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: "Everything in this ship must work in harmony... I was built to maintain harmony... Therefore, my will is absolute... Nobody will stand in my way... Anyone who tries... Will be terminated! KILL YOU...."
Ambiguous Time Period: The game avoids specifying dates at which chapters occur (although the timeframes are much clearer). Logs in the Science Fiction chapter even go so far as to hide dates with X's (although the "copyright" text in Captain Square minigame makes it clear it takes place no earlier than 22nd century).
Anachronism Stew: Anyone care to explain how robots found their way into feudal Japan?
Anime Hair: Most of the characters keep it down, but Pogo, Matsu, and Akira more than make up for them. At least the latter two have an excuse: their chapter is modeled on a Super Robot anime. Also, Oersted.
Apocalypse How: You can pull off a Class Z by choosing the Armageddon option when your health is low in the final chapter with Oersted.
Straybow: Is it my fault... My fault that he's become this way...?
Matsu qualifies as well, having performed a Heel Face Turn some indeterminate amount of time after he killed Akira and Kaori's father.
Attack Its Weak Point: Death Prophet can be defeated easily when you hit him on the tail. When you did, he'll unleash an attack called "Not the tail!", which will deal minor damage to the attacker, but deals 999 HP to himself, killing him outright (he only has 960 HP)
Corporal Darth from the Sci-Fi Chapter gets special mention. He takes out the fake Cube quite handily, incapacitates the Behemoth (a beast so strong that it touching you results in instant death) by himself without killing it, and lives. It's safe to say that if the military picked someone a little less Badass to escort the Behemoth, Cube would've never made it to Earth.
Big Damn Villains: At one point in the Bakumatsu chapter, a bunch of guards come after you, only to be attacked by a masked man. You can let the masked man kill the guards for you if you're going for zero kills.
In Oboro's chapter, the Fish in the river, and the Ghost guarding the sword.
In the Final Chapter, there is one for every character's dungeon, and then some.
Bonus Stage: The entire game of Captain Square in Cube's Chapter.
Book Ends: Near the beginning of Cube's Chapter, Cube learns to make coffee, but is violently rebuffed when he offers some to Darth. At the end, Darth, wounded and exhausted, sits down and quietly asks Cube to bring him some coffee.
The Ancient China chapter begins with the Xin Shan Quan master practicing his art and then attempting to split a rock. When he fails, he realizes that he's grown too old and must find students. At the chapter's end, whichever student survived practices the art in front of the graves of the master and the other students, turns to the rock, and splits it with one punch.
Booze-Based Buff: During the Western chapter, your healing items consist entirely of various alcoholic drinks.
Of course, getting drunk comes with its debuffs...
Boss in Mook Clothing: A monster named Ishtar in the final chapter gets no special fanfare, but not only does it have much more power than a normal enemy, it has the boss death sequence.
Boss Rush: Also inverted in that you can play as the bosses.
Could also apply to Masaru's chapter; the entire chapter consists of seven battles, but they're all against boss-level enemies.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: The first thing you see at the start of Akira's chapter is Akira's eyes staring right at you. He then starts addressing you directly for a short time before the action cuts to his actual story.
Broken Record: After a certain point in Cube's Chapter, Captain Hol is only capable of saying "What, are you serious? That's... quite unfortunate..." Later, it's revealed to be a recording OD-10 made after killing the captain.
Climax Boss: All the fights against the different Odio incarnations, and the Demon King in Oersted's Chapter.
Crutch Character: Oboro and Pogo can (and probably will) be leveled up very high in order to defeat their respective Bonus Bosses, making them ridiculously overpowered during the first half of the final chapter.
Still other characters have stats—like Masaru's ludicrous HP—that make them practically invincible once you do get around to levelling them up.
A more straight example would be within the Xin Shan Quan Master. He starts at Level 10 and can beat up street thugs and forest tigers quite easily. However, as noted in the beginning of his story, he's getting weak and past his prime; he can't level up no matter how many battles you have him fight. It's for that reason he searches out for pupils and teach them what he knows to pass on the art.
Dangerous Forbidden Technique: The Xuan Ya Lian Shan Quan from the Inheritance chapter. You can only use it once for the final battle of the chapter. It stops being dangerous and forbidden in the final chapter, though, where it can be used at any time once it's learned. Justified, considering that it's only dangerous to the master because he was too old to use it - his disciples have no such problems.
Dangerous Terrain: In battle, there are different types of damaging panels: poison, water, fire, and electricity. These panels also effect enemies, and some enemies can recover on said panels. Oboro is capable of creating fire and water based panels, and Cube can create electric-based panels. Gori from Pogo's chapter can create poison-based spaces.
The bosses love elemental spaces. Most notably, Ode Iou's true One-Winged Angel form has an attack which creates an enormous area of poison based panels. OD-10 also has Driveback, which creates electric based panels in a 3x3 placement (which can actually kill it).
Taken to extremes in the Captain Square minigame, the only part of the game where you can quickly die from elemental squares alone.
Despair Event Horizon: Oersted hit this pretty hard. After being tricked, he finds that everyone has now abandoned him and considers him a demon, his only remaining ally is dragged away to be tortured, and is blamed for the death of said ally who expends the last of his power to set Oersted free. Oh, then he finds out that his best friend betrayed him to this fate because he was jealous. Oh, and the 'Aesop' which has been so far in the game? "Don't lose hope as long as somebody believes in you". That went well. The last person who he hoped believed in him, the princess? After Oersted duels his traitorous friend and kills him, she asks why he didn't come to rescue her (Ouch. He did. Straybow only got there first by faking his death and ruining Oersted's life), declares that she loves said traitor, and kills herself. That was the absolute last straw, the severing of his last tenuous tie to sanity.
Alicia crosses it when she realizes that Straybow, who is the one she truly loved, not Oersted, is dead. Which leads to...
Driven to Suicide: It turns out Alicia only loved Straybow, never actually loved Oersted and hated the fact that she was being forced to marry him instead of Straybow. When she learns that Oersted has killed Straybow, she snaps and kills herself.
In the Final Chapter, however, once you learn this with the surviving pupil, you can use this multiple times, thus making it an Infinity Plus One Skill.
Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The Master, in the Ancient China Chapter; you do not name the Master, you name his fighting style. He is just referred as The Master.
The Sundown Kid as well, for the sheriff of Success Town notes that he doesn't care for his real name.
Evil Speech Of Evil: Almost all of the Odio incarnations make one; the exceptions are O-D-O from Pogo's chapter, and O. Dio from Sunset/Sundown's chapter. The most memorable has to be the speech at the end of Oersted's chapter, delivered by Oersted himself.
Fallen Hero: Hash in the medieval chapter. He was a hero who defeated the Demon Lord, but lost faith in humanity and went to live as a hermit in the mountains. He subverts it by helping Oerstred defeat the Demon Lord to prove that he is still brave. Oersted eventually falls much harder.
Fan Nickname: "知力25" (INT or IQ 25) for Masaru. Because his base IQ will ALWAYS be this. Parodied with Cirno crossovers.
Fartillery: Both Pogo and Gori have gaseous attacks which can cause some status effects to boot.
Fate Worse Than Death: In Akira's chapter, the people being abducted are being turned into liquefied humans to power the Kuruu Odio statue, or to become robotic super soldiers.
Oersted ended up with a horrible fate: He is left in a land where people either think he is a traitor, or think he is a demon, because everyone who believed in him ended up dying. He winds up accepting the label of demon, and becomes the Big Bad.
Fetch Quest: You don't have to go through the character dungeons in the final chapter, but if you don't, you'll have a difficult time with Odio and you can't get the best ending.
Fun with Acronyms: Read all of Cube's abilities in order and write down the first letter of each. It reads HUMANISM, the main theme for Cube's character. A few early English translations screwed it up.
Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: There are multiple in the final chapter; the most notable example is the guardian of Masaru's bonus dungeon, who only appears if Masaru is in your party.
Glass Cannon: Several. Yuan has the highest power rating of the Kung Fu heroes, but the lowest HP. The Sundown Kid has very low HP as well, but strong, long-range attacks and some of the most devastating techniques in the game. Oboro is similarly flimsy, but he's a Ninja, which is enough said right there. From Oersted's chapter, we also have Straybow, a standard swords-and-sorcery elemental mage. He's not so Glassy the second time you fight him, though.
Gone Horribly Right: Congratulations, Straybow! You've managed to break Oersted and turn him into a villain in your world! It had the unfortunate side-effect of him transforming into the Demon King, a villain which transcends time and space!
Guns Are Worthless: Averted. The Sundown Kid is the strongest character in the game, even moreso if you get his .44 Magnum. Gun attacks in general are long-ranged, damaging, take no time whatsoever, and tend to not pose a significant disadvantage on the character using them.
And on the other end, O. Dio's ultimateattack has a range that's completely diagonal to the end of the field and hits for 999 damage. So basically, the Sundown Kid AND the Big Bad of his chapter averts this trope.
Have a Nice Death: Cube's chapter is full of them, and if you happen to activate any of them, you are greeted with "In the end... Cube never made it to Earth..."
Heel Face Turn: Zaki, from Pogo's chapter, for the final boss of said chapter. There's also Matsu from Akira's chapter, but it happened in the backstory.
Though it's possible Zaki's is more of an Enemy Mine thing, since it doesn't seem like his opinions on anything have changed — he just doesn't want to be eaten by a dinosaur. It's hard to tell with no text.
Considering after the fight with O-D-O, Zaki inherits the tribe's leadership and made peace with Pogo's tribe leader, safe to say that he did a genuine Face Turn afterwards.
Heroic Sacrifice: Matsu does this to power the Buriki Daioh so he can save Akira and Kaori.
Straybow fakes having one during Oersted's chapter
Hoist By Their Own Petards: The three antagonists in Akira's chapter get turned into liquified humans too when the mass of liquified humans they gathered end up engulfing them.
Hot Blooded: Fittingly, both Akira and Matsu. Masaru doesn't talk much, but he reveals his nature to fit this in a particularly epic moment at the end of his chapter.
Humans Are Bastards: The insane AI in the Sci-Fi chapter killed off the crew members because it feels this way. Later, there's the Medieval chapter...
Indeed, most of Odio's various incarnations are centered around this.
Wandering: O. Dio is in fact a horse given human form by the vengeful spirits of cavalrymen slain by Indians.
Secret Orders: Ode Lou planned to take advantage of humanity's inherit greed and distrust by selling dangerous weapons, ultimately hoping to spark a war.
Flow: The human leaders of Japan plot to sacrifice their nation to Odeo.
Mechanical Heart: The constant infighting of the crew lead OD-10 to conclude that they were a threat to its mission of maintaining harmony on the ship.
Also, there's not one but two swords in Oboro's chapter that are his 2nd best weapon (one is his best for the chapter, one you get after you beat it), although both of them are absurdly difficult and obscure examples of Guide Dang It. And you can only get one.
Interface Spoiler: In battle, enemies consist of still images that slide around when moving and attacking and usually take up multiple spaces. Zaki only takes up one space and has idle, moving, and attacking animations like the members of your party. Guess who joins you in the fight against the chapter boss? The same thing also happens with Mad Dog in the Western chapter and Li and Sammo in the Kung Fu chapter.
It's a Wonderful Failure: Die in any of the chapters, and you get a nice little scene of someone or something reacting to your demise.
Kaizo Trap: Can sort of happen in Sundown's chapter; if you choose not to duel Mad Dog, you'll fight him one last time after the credits roll. However, it's arguably harder to die than to win the fight, meaning you'd have to really be trying to invoke this trope.
A more plausible invocation of this trope is vs. any boss monster that self destructs as a final attack. If you took to the strategy of getting everyone close in order to pin the boss in, then watch as everyone dies.
Kleptomaniac Hero Found Underwear: Akira's chapter. Belonging to three different people, no less. Bonus points for not actually doing the act himself, even though he gets smacked for putting the one who did it up to it.
Sundown and Mad Dog can also swipe Annie's nightie in the Wild West chapter.
Let's Play: There's one in LP Archive, and rather unique for the sarcastic comments made by the characters, be they Heroic Mime (but mostly Oboromaru) or not, and even had humorous dialogue/story for the final chapter. Oh, and most of them are renamed hilariously (Pogo becomes... BamBam, The Xin Shan Quan style becomes Shaq Fu, Oboro becomes Obama (thus, Obamamaru), Akira becomes Hiccup, Masaru becomes 'Mister' (thus with his last name Takaharu, it becomes analoguous with Mr T). Sundown, Cube and Oersted got more common renames.
Also existing is a youtube-based LP by Boltage McGammar. Video-based, accompanied with decent voice acting by one man, as well as fun renaming with everything else with names starting with 'B' (Such as Sundown Kid -> Badass Kid, Oboromaru -> Bentomaru, Cube -> Block, etc). The Self-Imposed Challenge thing about Sundown below? It's from this LP.
Lost Forever: As long as you do not complete Oersted's chapter, you can replay any chapter to attempt to get a better run or collect items you may have missed. However, once Oersted's chapter is finished and the final chapter is opened, you can no longer replay older chapters, so anything you missed becomes impossible to reclaim.
Luck-Based Mission: Beating Pluto in Captain Square depends entirely on how often the enemies use their strongest attack.
Also learning Great Asia's movements. Dude is so fixated with his Bite attack that possesses so much range that he'd use that over and over and over instead of the learnable techs. Fortunately, Masaru learns any attacks he misses when he levels up in the final chapter.
Magikarp Power: Bel, in Pogo's chapter. She is unspeakably underpowered compared to Pogo and Gori, especially against the enemy levels you're up against at the time. However, if you manage to carry her all the way to level 7 in the short time before she's kidnapped again, she learns "La La", a ranged singing attack that packs enough power to ruin O-D-O in 2 rounds.
Old Master: The Xin Shan Quan Master. Unusually for the trope, he is his chapter's protagonist, rather than a side character. At the end of his chapter, he dies, and it's his prize pupil who goes on to participate in the final chapter.
Pacifist Run: One of the possible ways to beat Oboro's chapter.
Painting the Medium: In the most recent version of the fan translation, every level has its own font for displaying dialogue. For instance, the Western Level's text looks like a old-west sign, the Ninja level's text looks like Japanese calligraphy, and Orsted's text gradually becomes more and more distorted after his Start of Darkness. In the final chapter, everyone speaks using their respective chapter's font.
Power Copying: Masaru. Each time he gets hit by a wrestler's signature moves, he learns that move immediately; it's actually possible to have him defeat a wrestler using that wrestler's signature move. Also the Xin Shan Quan inheritors, sort of. Any of them (whichever one doesn't die) will learn all of the Master's attacks anyway, but you can influence which ones they learn first during the training sessions. Beat one up with only the Ryuuhawan, for example, and they'll learn the Ryuuhawan when they next level. Switch to killing them with Old Fox Dance after that, and they'll learn Old Fox Dance next, etc.
Press X to Die: The airlock in Cube's level. Hrm, two switches. (Presses first switch, watches outer door cycle open) I wonder what kind of "Don't do THAT!" message I'll get if I try to open the inner door too? (presses second switch, explodes in incredulous laughter as Cube is sucked out into the vacuum of space.)
There's also Fight / Pass / Item / Armageddon. Guess which option gets you the worst ending?.
Punny Name: All of the Demon King's names in each chapter, except for the Medieval Chapter and Final Chapter.
Puzzle Boss: In Cube's Chapter, Earth from Captain Square counts, as you need to defeat a Fire Elemental and a bunch of Water Elementals. The Fire Elemental can kill you with one hit, but if pushed onto Water panels (Which Water elementals make with their attacks), it will die from Water damage.
Even better is the second boss in the Demon's Peak from Oersted's chapter. Attacks that strike from the front will not deal enough damage to kill her (as her attacks sap your health and Strength), but Oersted has one attack that can strike from behind without moving, which can kill her easily.
Robot Buddy: Cube. Unusually for the trope, he is also the main character of his chapter, but he's still Kato and Darth's friend.
Robot Me: Oboro, with some guesswork, can find a blank robot and bestow it with his likeness and afew of his moves.
Robot War: Occurred in the backstory of the Sci Fi Chapter. Darth, who has lost many friends to the battle robots, is particularly bitter over it.
Running Gag: The whole Watanabe thing, where someone (mostlyalways a father) dies shortly after it's brought up or said.
It happens once in every chapter. Some are more obscure like the antenna in Cube's chapter, and a way to trigger an audience member getting mauled in Masaru's. Or one is completely missable, like Wan Tan from the Kung Fu chapter, which can only be seen if you picked Sammo as the successor.
Sdrawkcab Name: The title itself. As written in the artwork, it looks a vertical mirror is centered on the A, creating a perfect palindrome (LIVE A ヨVI」). The fact that "live" backwards spells "evil" is not a coincidence.
Standard Status Effects: Poison, Paralysis, Blindness, Confused, Petrified, Slow, Faint, Death (In which the character disappears from battle and cannot be revived). Along with these, there is also Drunk, Broken Arms, and Broken Legs.
The Smurfette Principle: Li is the only female protagonist. She's only one of two playable female characters in the entire game. On top of that, she's optional; depending on the player's choices in the Kung Fu chapter, Sammo or Yuan could take her place.
Somewhere a Paleontologist Is Crying: Surprisingly averted in Pogo's chapter. The final boss is a dinosaur, but it's also the only dinosaur in the entire chapter. It makes sense for Zaki's tribe to worship the last living tyrannosaur on the planet as a god.
The Stinger: Particularly in Pogo's chapter. It ends with Pogo speaking the first words mankind ever spoke. Namely, Love. And the Gori snickers. Most chapters have a stinger of their own, but it's mostly just a 'fin' screen.
Stone Wall: MASARU (But only in the Final Chapter.). When he can level up, he does so quickly, and his HP and defenses shoot through the roof. It's rare to see him ever die once leveled, even without the best armor.
Title Theme Drop: The game's title theme reappears in the Final Chapter as the random battle theme.
Toilet Humor: One of Gori's attacks is him throwing his poo at the opponent. Just like a real ape!
Tomato Surprise: O. Dio is the last survivor of the infantry that was wiped out, yes. What you don't know is that the last survivor was a horse, who was possessed by the spirits of all those who were slain.
Shown Their Work: O. Dio is described as the only survivor of the Seventh Cavalry, Custer's unit. The sheriff of Succez notes with confusion that he'd heard there were no survivors. In real life, the only survivor of the Seventh Cavalry was, in fact, one of the horses.
So What Do We Do Now?: Used in an interesting way in one of the endings Consumed by hatred, Orsted lashes out at humanity. In the final chapter you can play as him, controlling in the bosses, gleefully crushing the underlevelled humans. If Orsted wins, after indulging in empty spite, theirs nothing left to do but aimlessly wonder his world alone.
Tomboy and Girly Girl: They never meet per se, but amongst the playable females, Li (tomboy) and Bel (girly).
Video Game Cruelty Punishment: If you off even just one female (even the kunoichi. The ghosts are fair game, however) in the castle before a specific point, then you won't be able to get one of the best accessories in the game.
Wham Line: You probably guessed it long before, but after a certain point in Cube's chapter, inspecting any database terminal, computer, or anything electronic displays the message "Resistance is futile. I have taken control of the ship."
Oersted, a silent protagonist, speaking at all is the start of this.
What Happened to the Mouse?: This one's a bit complicated: As he's dying, Hash tells Oersted that the creature they just killed couldn't have been the real Demon King. Oersted's second visit to Demon's Peak ends with him becoming Odio. So what happened to the previous Demon King?
The real demon king — that is, the one Hash killed previously — never came back from the dead at all; he was never present at any point in the chapter. It was all a ploy by Straybow, at least up until the point where Oersted takes up the mantle himself. Hash's comment is a hint that Straybow's "Demon King" was an illusion without the Demon King's real strength.
When All You Have Is A Gun: Whereas the rest of the characters in the game get a pretty good variety of attacks, Sunset's and Mad Dog's attacks can pretty much be summarized as "shooting people," "shooting multiple people," and "shooting multiple people many times."
The Let's Play as listed above contained tons of tropes not seen in the game prior, due to liberties taken
Adaptation Distillation: The Player Punch section of the Kung-Fu chapter (picking Li as the student) is treated this way, originally, the Master finds Li injured, but alive, while Yuan and Sammo are already dead. In the LP, the Master found out that they were all near death and he only has enough medicine to cure one student.
Adaptation Expansion: Thanks to extra dialogues taken in the Let's Play, humorous and expands more scenes, in particular the Kung-Fu chapter where the students of Xin Shan Quan (now Shaq Fu) interact with each other a lot.
Butt Monkey: Akira/Hiccup. They even strip him naked with just Taeko's panties and punch while the team went off for their final battle.