A very original and unique RPG
First of all, this game is VERY original. You have 7 chapters with 7 heroes and 7 game-play styles. Every detail from the menu's cursor to the music is related to the capter's style. It's pretty amazing. Of course, items, equipment and enemies also are related to the capter's style. At the end, you have a 8th chapter that happens in a medieval world like the average of the RPG, and after that all heroes meets together to fight the evil (I won't spoil anymore).
Then the battle system is unique, too. It's a mix. You move on a 7x7 gird and every attack/tech will have it's own range. So the battles have both action and strategy in them. Usually, battle aren't random but sometimes they are (this depends on the chapter). You can have up to 4 character in your party.
The background graphics are nice, and also everything here is related to the chapter's style.
The music is extremely good, and chapter related of course. Once complete a chapter, you can listen it's music in the menu (there is a average of 3 song per chapter).
The game is pretty challenging because there is a lot of secret treasures and additional quests and bosses.
The prehistoric chapter is very fun (nobody speaks so everything is with animation/sound effects) and is the best one for my viewpoint.
The Chinese chapter is kinda nice, you have to train kung-fu fighters, but a bit short trough.
The near-future chapter is really cool, and surprising too.
The ninja chapter very fun too, you have to choose who you want to kill, and you can walk on the roofs !
Square could really do better sprite/animation graphics. There is still 16x16 sprites with the same engine as the first Final Fantasy game on the NES. On battles characters looks better, but fighting animation are really crap.
Also, many chapters are surprisingly short.
The thing I really dislike in this game is that many human bosses takes 3x3 battle squares, so you have to fight people 9 times larger than you. Additionally to bad fighting animation, many battle scenes will look really crap. Also the 7x7 gird is too smaller to have really interesting strategies in battles. If you have 4 characters fighting 2 monsters that are 3x3 squares large, 22 of the 47 gird's squares are already taken, so you can't move as your want.
I the old-west chapter is too small (you can beat it in 30 minutes) and you have only 3 battles including the final one.
The science-fiction chapter is rather an horror chapter and the story is just... well... terrorizing. Also this chapter doesn't have any battle except in a computer called "Capitain's Square" and the final battle. So you just have to walk, to talk, to walk, to talk, etc.... For my viewpoint it's the worst one.
The arcade chapter is just 6 battles then the final one and no story, so this isn't an actual chapter for me.
The Bottom Line
Live a live isn a very particular RPG, but it's still fun. It's not as good than Chrono Trigger or the final fantasy series, but it's quite good anyway. The game is absolutely unpopular, but square did everything to have it unpopular. They didn't release it out of japan, and they released it a few month before the great Final Fantasy 6, so everyone invest for FF6 rather for this game. If Square-Enix would be smart now days, they could remake this game for the Game Boy Advance and release it in the USA and in Europe, but they're not.
Fortunately, an english version is available for emulation. I think everyone that likes RPG and Square shall have a try on this game.