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Reall good! Don't listen to the haters that just do not like jrpgs or xenoblade but review this anyway. If you like jrpg or these games you will like this game

This review contains spoilers

Hate My Stupid Bitch Wife. I will go back in time to the prehistoric era as a tyrannosaurus rex and kill some cavemen because i hate her so so much

This review contains spoilers

(theres a fire emblem: awakening spoiler somewhere in here so if youre still spoiler dodging that game watch out)

I'm gonna cold take with you for a second. Live A Live is good. Ridiculously, miraculously good. It's not one of those games your friend tells you is a masterpiece, and how much of a shame it is that it was never released in the west, only for it to just be alright. It's forward thinking in consistently mind blowing ways, its throughlines somehow gleem out as gorgeous and harrowing despite how pastiche-y it is at its core...It's a fuckin’ classic. And playing it through a remake this genuinely appreciative yet gaudy is like having a birthday party in a Burger King.

Off the cusp of the release of Final Fantasy VI, Live a Live feels like 90s Squaresoft flexing that they finally understood how to imbue their dinky little games with tone, showing how they’ve risen beyond riding on childhood wonder or nostalgia. The game thrives on its mastery of set piece in ways that feel 20 years ahead; so you’re a cowboy of hazy details, and you’re standing in a crowd with the sheriff breathing down your neck. A boy tugs on your shirt, pleading that you might be one of the “good guys”, and your only 2 replies are “...”, and “I ain’t a saint, kid”. This consistent motif runs through the Wild West chapter: that staying silent feels easier than speaking up, but speaking out feels right. Despite the joyful simplicity of it, every single time it presented me with that little “...”, it managed to stop me in my tracks for a few more seconds than the last. And to be honest…even as I write this, I’ve never checked if there’s some whimsically different dialogue if I chose to stay silent at the times I could, and I don’t think I will now. Twilight of Edo Japan presents you with this genuinely complex brand of playstyles - a pacifist stalker of the night, a cold blooded killer, or a unique mixture of both. So when you realize that the reward is superfluous - a cool sword that isn’t even the best sword, I can imagine someone might feel underwhelmed.
On the other hand, we have Imperial China, where the genuinely distinct fruition of our choices is obfuscated and hidden behind deceit. This story’s initially portrayed as a management sim of our 3 students, each day having its own stat theme, Present Day having conditioned me into considering things like “maybe if i hit them with certain attacks they’ll learn them???”...yet it all crashes down on us. Our journey as an instructor ends unsatisfyingly soon, before anything can feel truly fleshed out, purposeful wasting of the players time over presenting us with the direct appeal of our choices from the get-go.

My intuitive gaymer brain was able to immediately get the obvious truth regarding Imperial China’s branching paths as well - sure, it’s not thaaat impressive that there are 3 extra playable characters. Surely, they’ll all have just as little dialogue as everyone else, and the differences in their moveset will be entirely cosmetic. But just like that, Live A Live gets you. It’s not a game of routes and replayability, but interrogation. The game’s very logo presents us with a branching path despite it only having one true end, because the introspection is in our hands now. That’s when the game finally hits us with the Middle Ages arc, where we are forced to look back through time and question RPGs as a whole. The pure cathartic energy as Live a Live tears the classic RPG narrative to shreds - the intertext of our 2 faux-leads, Oersted and Streibough’s personalities being ripped straight out of Final Fantasy IV paying off. Oersted is forced to confront that his hero’s journey is a scam, written on lies promised through the corpses of ruined men, while I sit here, thinking “man they really couldve tuned down the random encounters in this section”
this game came out in 1994 holy fuck. video games? they might be good u might wanna check em out

Most importantly about this game’s remake shedding light on it for a whole lot of people, is talking about what it represents in this very climate. In my retrospective context of 1994, Live a Live feels like a cold critique of the increasingly insular pool of influences in its genre. Why not make a game where you take down the status quo of heroism, rather than enforcing it? And more humbly, why not just make an RPG that takes place in China instead of Medieval Europe! Sorry, not like that. Ironically though, when I look at Live a Live as a 2022 product, its most unique trait is its warmth. The simple details are truly where it rules: I found it chilling how all 100 people in the Edo Japan Castle had their own name. I appreciated that Oersted fought against bosses named after phobias while the real protagonists fought against philias - the game wants you to consider the fine details of where you might have it easier than someone else. If there’s anything truly ever present here, it’s the sentiment expressed towards electronics (and by extension, the good ol’ video games) during Distant Future - that like any art, these things are fundamentally humane due to how much of ourselves we put into our craft.
When you get to the game’s bad ending, and kill Oersted for the crimes he committed out of pure, unadulterated hatred, you’re left with the solemn ending message on your screen
The cycle continues
And the cycle did continue: Live a Live was a commercial failure in its home country, and its team and genre as a whole would be thrown back into the Middle Ages. I think we’ve all run into some unfortunate occasions where an RPG just feels cold: just some recent examples for me, the at times genuinely lovely Dragon Quest XI feels brittle and conservative, because it isn’t interested in criticizing the framework of its series. The critically acclaimed, yet plainly awful Fire Emblem: Awakening gives us a grand ending praising sacrificing ourselves for our country like a fucking military recruiter, shooting you a bad ending where everyone sounds regretful if you refuse. So to play Live A Live, a game so gentle that it’d simply ask you to simply consider not shooting your suicidal cowboy friend, without dangling some sort of fancy good ending behind that behavior, is the most refreshing thing I could ask for.

In every heart the seed of dark abides. The makings of a Lord when watered well…
With hate. Sweet hate. She springs eternal. Sings…
All-tempting draught. We’ll drink of her again.

-Oersted’s last words. I’ll be taking a drink next time I play a Fire Emblem game

Hey! That isn't a house! It's a Facility of the Dead. Get your story straight.

This is the one, that out of all the HOTD games, you really had to play in an arcade to get. The very drab and muted color scheme and the frankly way too fucking long boss fights will just irritate you and make you wonder if this one is any good at all. IT IS!! I swear.

Pumping the shotgun to reload is so much more satisfying than shooting off the screen, and if you have a flair for the dramatic at your local arcade, you can make a real scene out of it too. The civilian rescues being replaced with rescuing your partner is also a great change of pace that makes it feel more like a co-operative experience. If you're playing single player though, it makes it seem like G is just Moe by Helplessness, which is pretty funny.

Enemies animate as beautifully as ever, the gore is chunkier and feels just as visceral, the big zombie in particular having some very satisfying chunks taken out of his belly with shots. The actual monster designs this time are really lacking a lot of pop, as they are mostly just HotD 2's cast again with more brown filters applied. It's a very drab looking game from top to bottom, the plastic gun in your hand being the most colorful thing you're going to see.

As I alluded to earlier, I hate the boss fights in this thing. They are the longest fucking bosses of all time. I swear I remember when I was a kid having to fight the Wheel of Fate for like 10 fucking minutes, and if you lost all your lives, having to fight through the same long-ass game AGAIN just to get another crack at it. All these endurance tests and none of them are even close to exhilarating as the Magician.

Obviously you are not going to see this hanging around an arcade anymore, because you are barely going to SEE an arcade, but I would say this is worth a run with a friend, as there is stuff to like here, I just don't think the series ever reaches the heights of HotD2 ever again from this point on, so the last GOOD House of the Dead game being so visually bland and uninspired is a serious bummer.

When Sephiroth said "Do you know the way" and I burst out laughing, I realized I have the internet equivalent of Mako poisoning.

Game’s probably okay idfk but it gets 5 stars for its legacy: an extremely funny wave of Starship Troopers discourse

3D shooters are a genre long and particularly afflicted with 'just so' game design; Half-Life popularized a reload mechanic where you tap a button and wait to have your gun refilled from a pool, and this became a defacto standard for no particular reason over not having reloading, or reloading that actually has gun magazine management, or dozens of other one off systems meant to represent a games ethos. Halo introduced a two-weapon system that, along side a nuanced weapon selection forced you to always accept a trade off, games without nuanced weapon selections copied it wholesale, usually resulting in defacto one weapon system because you really need to carry the M16 at all times to get anything done. Halo Infinite in turn has a sprint button with so little effect that you need a stopwatch to tell if it makes you faster- because Halo doesn't benefit from a sprint mechanic but Shooters Have Sprint. Helldivers is perhaps the only studio published 3D shooter in half a decade if not more where there is no 'just so' game design, from meat and potato mechanics like your gun's recoil being semi-deterministic to help you avoid the regular concern of friendly fire, and your gun being loaded from a small pool of disposable magazines, to fun details like running out of spawns but completing the mission objective still constituting a victory.

"how's the president standing?!" remains one of Nintendo's most prescient critiques of faux democracies in the modern era

This review contains spoilers

the final fight with ganondorf goes so fucking hard. when the healthbar just keeps going,,, holy fucking shit. such a great subversion of the boss healthbar growing trope. glad i finally got around to finishing this after finding all of the shrines and getting burnt out playing so much so fast when it came out.

this is so much better than The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017), and i loved botw. i don't think i'll ever be able to play botw again after playing this. open world games are rarely my forte, but there's simply so much to do in this one. i am so glad that i went into this blind (outside of the reveal trailer). there were so many precious moments that completely recontextualized the game: discovering the depths for the first time, learning how ultrahand works, realizing the temples are slightly more traditional, finding spirit temple before the main quest told me to, finding autobuild, figuring out how to get into korok forest, the list just goes on and on forever. peak gaming right here. such a conduit for creativity and the most fun exploration i've ever done in a videogame. making planes and crazy little floating platforms with cannons and cars adorned with autoaiming turrets and everything is just so goddamn euphoric.

the story in this one is a neat hook. like "where's zelda?" idk dude you tell me. the problem is that because the game is so open, it's just like haha i figured out where zelda is pretty quickly and every character is like man (evil) zelda's all over the place and its just kinda annoying. "secret stones" too. i think i still like this story better than breath of the wild, though.

the music in this one is really fucking good. breath of the wild's is too, for that matter. just because the music takes a more backseat position a lot of the time does not mean it is unsuccessful. there's so many melodies across zelda and it uses a lot of them fantastically (lookin at you, colgera).

open world zelda is good. i love traditional 3D zelda too, but open world zelda is good. i don't want another one right after this, but fuck, even if there is one, i'm obviously still gonna play it. if there's eventually master mode for this, i'm 100% going to come back and do like a "no fast travel" run fully exploring the world using all the different mechanisms available.

zelda's haircut is adorable and i want it now.

the guy with the hammer was my favorite i would hire him to kill all of my enemies