Live A Live Original Sound Version
Live A Live Original Sound Version
March 25, 1996
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1994 was a very memorable year in the gaming industry for a number of good reasons many ways. Chief among the best successes was Final Fantasy VI, which had done extremely well in Japan as well as in North America. About a month after Final Fantasy VI was released, an innovative title known as Live A Live showed itself to the world. Knowing that Uematsu was already busy with Final Fantasy VI, Square needed a new composer during its development. After a bit of search, they found the best person to do it: a woman named Yoko Shimomura. Now famous for a series of great scores, including Kingdom Hearts, Legend of Mana, and Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Live A Live was her first work for Square.
The soundtrack starts with the title theme, “Live A Live,” which sets a high standard for the rest of the soundtrack. It’s all synth, but it’s wonderfully manipulated. The theme after it is “Select-A-Live,” which is used when you choose a quest to start with. As you might expect, each chapter has different music, so we’ll discuss each one in turn, based on the order in which each chapter’s music appears on the Original Sound Version.
The Original Sound Version first takes us to Oboro-Maru’s quest in Medieval Japan. The music throughout this chapter is extremely good at conveying a Japanese feel. It starts with “Secret Mission,” which serves as the opening and ending track for this chapter; it suits the hero’s mission to assassinate an evil lord in his castle very well. The soundtrack continues with “Sound Of Shinobi,” which is played as you make your way through the enemy’s castle. It’s both amazing and A-Maze-Ing! Since you’ll certainly encounter enemies on your way through the castle, it’s only appropriate that there’s a battle theme here and this goes by the rather nice title “Killing Field!” You can certainly imagine the hero fighting off ninjas and other guards while listening to this.
Let’s now assume the player finished Oboro-Maru’s chapter and decides to choose Masaru’s quest, which is set in the present day. It starts off with “Ultimate Strength – Victory Road” as the opening theme. All that happens when this is being played are images of Masaru flexing his muscles and such being shown. He wants to become the greatest fighter by learning the special techniques of six fighters around the world; indeed, the chapter is pretty much a Street Fighter rip-off to me, but never mind! Once you are ready, you must choose which fighter to face as the track entitled “Martial Arts Masters” plays. It’s simply fitting, nothing more. Once your choice is made, you’ll hear “Versus,” a silly little track. The battle track of the present chapter, “Knock You Down!,” is very good; it gives me the feeling of encouragement while fighting enemies.
Once that chapter is done, we go way back in time to the Prehistoric era for Bogo’s quest. This quest opens up with the tribal-sounding “Native Life.” It’s just hilarious as you see Bogo trying to hunt a mammoth, but gets chased by 10 of them! You start in the caves and you feel right at home with the main track of the chapter, “Nice Weather Ain’t It!” What do you encounter in the prehistoric time? Oh, just a few saber-toothed tigers, mammoths, crocodiles, etc. While fighting these enemies, you’ll definitely enjoy “Kiss of Jealousy.” It sounds upbeat and you’ll be tapping to the beat within seconds of listening to it. It’s a perfect battle theme and fits the mood of the battle scene like a glove.
The next chapter is CUBE’s quest, which is Sci-Fi-oriented. It starts out with the weird opening track “Unseen Syndrome,” which is mostly ambient in nature. I can’t help but think of Star Trek or Star Wars while listening to this. Don’t ask why! There is no main theme in this chapter, but play the arcade game Captain Square and you’ll hear the obviously titled “Captain Square track,” which is very memorable, though not necessarily good. Indeed, this one is a bit weird, as it sounds like its on an 8-bit console, but it’s OK while you beat up them nasty aliens. Later on in the Arcade game, you’ll hear “Captain of The Shooting Stars.” It still sounds 8-bit-ish, but is somewhat more bearable.
On to the next chapter: Shinzan’s quest, in old China. The opening theme, “The Bird Flies in The Sky, The Fish Swims in The River,” is simply majestic, and sounds like music from an old Kung Fu movie. “The Old Master Descends from The Mountains” is the main theme of the chapter. You’ll be hearing it often as you travel through villages and to a small jungle filled with roaming tigers. As a result of these tiger encounters, of course, is the battle theme; “War In China couldn’t be better for this purpose, as it has both a distinct Chinese influence and a battle-like feel.
After the old China chapter, the Original Sound Version moves on to the themes of the Old Wild West Chapter, in which Sundown Kidd is the hero. As you see Sundown ride his horse in the desert, you’ll hear the opening track, “Wanderer,” which could be described like music from an Old Wild West flick. Although its use isn’t quite successful, the quiet “Under The Fake” is played while you search for supplies and traps to stop a gang of thieves coming to town. If you must do battle, “The Wilds” is plays, and while I can’t really describe this one, it is certainly very good. “Sancho de Los Panchos,” which is performed by the three amigos, is another great theme that sounds like it came from an Old Wild West flick.
And now we pass on to the Near Future Chapter, which represents the boy Akira’s mission. Akira has one special gift: he can read other people’s minds. The opening theme is the really catchy “Go Go Buriki King!!,” which will serve as a battle theme once you control a giant robot. The main theme for this chapter is “Wait For Truth,” a simple but nice little theme that is used as you explore the city’s areas. You’ll run into hoodlums, and while fighting them you get to hear the ultra-cool “A Painful Death At The Hands Of A Psycho.” This is just a light rock battle theme, but it is no doubt a fine work nonetheless.
Let’s move onwards to the final chapter, which is Orstedd’s quest, the Medieval Chapter. While you explore Orstedd’s castle, you hear the epic “Prelude to the Demon King,” which gives a slight feeling of hope. “Wings That Don’t Reach” is a beautiful theme heard while you search for allies, and is similar in style to Final Fantasy VI‘s “Searching For Friends.” You’ll encounter many monsters and assorted dragons on your quest, and “Difficult Fight” simply gives off the tension and uneasiness necessary to represent the battle scene. After a while you’ll finally reach The Demon King’s lair, and while exploring the horrifying place, “Journey to The Mountain Of The Demon King” is played.
And now, for the major climax of the game, every hero from the first seven chapters meet and prepare to do battle. As you explore the final area, the main theme is “City Of Hopelessness,” which is a sad version of Journey to the Mountain…” You’ll need the best equipment in order to survive, so you’ll need to explore some dungeons. The theme for them is “Silent Labyrinth,” which does give off a feeling of uncertainty. Whenever something really sad happens, “Cry-A-Live” is just what we need to convey those emotions, and it grabs me every time I hear it. When something really good happen though, it’s “Warm-A-Live” that takes the role to make us feel fuzzy.
As the soundtrack reaches its climax, things get really interesting. “The Demon King Odio” is one of Shimomura’s greatest work in my opinion; it simply exudes evil from every note and the organ makes it sound especially sinister. The boss theme, “Megalomania,” is a hard rock theme which dosen’t waste time to keep you in the spirit of a tough battle. This is THE track that spawned later kickass boss themes like “Pain The Universe” and “Darkness Nova” from Legend of Mana. The long wait for it to be heard is well worth it, in my opinion.
The final battle themes with Odio are wonderful. “Illusion…” starts off menacingly and afterwards the organ and drums join in to make one awesome final boss theme. However, this is only for the first phase of Odio, and for the second and last conflict, “Pure Odio” is used, and it gets a bit more fast-paced as you are about to vanquish the evil. If you should lose, you’ll be treated to the depressing “Armageddon,” which sounds a lot like Final Fantasy VI‘s “Dancing Mad.” Once you gain victory, everyone returns to their own space and time. You’ll hear “Live Over Again” as you see how everyone turns out after the fated battle. After that, it’s the ending theme, “Live For Live,” which contains remixes from several themes from the game and is a very well done and very memorable ending theme.
Ms. Shimomura has done well for her first project with Square and it certainly set precedent for the release of many more well-known albums, since Square clearly recognised her achievements here. As with most old CDs, this one fell out of print, but you could try eBay to get it. If you do buy this masterpiece, you won’t regret it.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Luc Nadeau. Last modified on August 1, 2012.