Square Enix's next big RPG release is the Live A Live remake for Switch this July, an HD-2D remake of the Super Famicom cult classic. In anticipation of the release, Famitsu sat down with the original's director, Takashi Tokita — who went on to direct Parasite Eve and co-direct Chrono Trigger — to find out more about the length of the development process.
In the interview (which has been kindly translated by Nintendo Everything), Tokita revealed that the team started work on the remake "At the beginning of 2019, and it took us three years." Three years isn't a terribly long time for a game to be in development nowadays, so when asked about why the turnaround was a bit quicker than other releases, Tokita brought up the game's HD-2D visuals:
Deciding on whether we should go with 2D or 3D in the pre-production alone takes about six months and the fact that we didn’t time on that was a big deal. We had no doubts that an HD-2D remake would be a good fit with the Super Famicom original.
Deciding on HD-2D, made famous by another multi-character, multi-path RPG — Octopath Traveler — helped Tokita and the team cut down on the development time, as well as having the Super Famicom original to hand.
Famously, Live A Live has multiple different scenarios across different time periods, but what makes this more unique is that every single time period and character has a different gameplay system. And retaining this caused some problems during development. With COVID-19 in full swing just a year into development, this caused some delays.
A few scenarios, in particular, needed some extra work and fine tweaking — "Bakumatsu" (or Secret Orders, the arc where you control a ninja) and "Prehistory" (the oldest time period where you play a caveman). Given that the former involves stealth and has three different endings, and the latter lets you use your character's sense of smell to find enemies and has no dialogue, we can see why these would be a bit tricker. But it makes us all the more excited to try these two chapters out.
Tokita sounds very excited about the remake's release, and so did his team! The director commented on the enthusiasm everyone had during the remake's development:
We made the patterns in line with how we’d done things before, but the staff in charge of pixel art loved Live A Live so much they drew twice as many movements as we had expected. Even during the development period, everyone had 1.5x the passion and momentum. We were able to develop passionately until the end and it ended up as something over and above our expectations. I hope everyone will look forward to the final release!
Well, Tokita's passion is infectious! There's really nothing else out there like Live A Live, and we already have a few details about a couple of the time periods. But with multiple stories in different settings, it was ambitious in its day, and it's still ambitious now.
Live A Live releases on 22nd July on Switch consoles around the world. Share your thoughts on the remake with us down in the comments!