Classic 16-bit JRPG From Square-Enix ‘Live A Live’ Gets New Trademark

Considered by many to be the golden age for JRPGs, the 16-bit era of the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis was a critical period in the formation of the JRPG genre, with iconic series like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Breath of Fire, and the Tales Of series all becoming deeply established, with strong identities and international fanbases during this time.

Perhaps more than any other Japanese publisher at the time, Square, prior to their merger with Enix, was one of the most prolific publishers of Japanese RPGs. They had a lot of huge internationally successful games, such as Secret of Mana, Chrono Trigger, and of course their partnership with Nintendo for Super Mario RPG.

But not every game during that time made it out of Japan. Notoriously there were a whole host of games that for various different reasons never made it to international players. Perhaps in part due to the cost of the localization process, perhaps due to the significant costs associated with manufacturing and shipping game cartridges at the time, or perhaps because JRPGs were not a guaranteed sales hit outside of Japan yet, many different games were only ever released for the Japanese market.

There are several indications present-day Square Enix has been looking at their back catalog and wondering which games might be suitable for some kind of modern international rerelease. There was Seiken Densetsu 3, also known as Trials of Mana, which got it’s first release outside of Japan last year, that’s twenty-four years after it’s original Japanese release. Similarly, Romancing SaGa 3 got released outside of Japan for the first time ever last year.

Could the next classic 16-bit RPG from Square to get an international rerelease have been inadvertently revealed? We think that’s a pretty safe bet. Over on the Australian trademark database, we see that Square-Enix has filed a trademark for “LIVE A LIVE”. I’m guessing they hadn’t planned for people to notice that. This would make total sense for a game to go back and translate for an international audience, it’s very much in the same category as games like Trials of Mana or Romancing SaGa 3, as a game that might have been able to find success in English speaking countries in the past, but it never had the chance.

It’s an ensemble RPG, where for each chapter you take control of a different character, with a different perspective on the unfolding story, and unique characteristics. It’s also historically significant just by association, where is the first game that developer Takashi Tokita worked on as a Director, before later going on to direct Chrono Trigger, regarded by many as the best JRPG of that era, if not ever. You can see some seeds of the ideas that led to Chrono Trigger in a formative incarnation in Live A Live, although it’s certainly not as all-round well polished as Chrono Trigger.

We can very much imagine that present-day Square-Enix would be interested in taking Live A Live global. This is a genre that is alive and well today, but it’s also steeped in nostalgia. There are lots of players that enjoyed the classics first time around, but either had to fumble with translation patches to play Japan-only games, or simply missed out on certain titles. There are also newer players who weren’t alive for the 90s but can still get a kick out of classic games if they’re made easily accessible with some kind of modern digital release. It’s not hard to imagine that a rerelease of a classic game is also a good way to test the water before doing something more ambitious with the series down the line.

This is pretty far from officially confirmed, we’ve done some reading between the lines to guess that it most likely means a rerelease is on the way, but it could also just be tying down a trademark to keep future options open. It could also be for a non-game project, or perhaps a sequel. We’ll keep an eye out for more news on this as it happens.

Update: Now trademarked in Europe, too.