Live A Live is a rather interesting RPG; it's basically a cross between a more complicated FF4 and a simpler FF Tactics with some strange side thingies. As in most RPGs, there are three modes: walking around, menu, and battle. Walking around is simple; hold B to run, and some chapters have you use the Y button for special effects. X opens the menu. Ah, the menu. Let's go there now, shall we?
There are six options here.
Arm: This is where you view your character's stats and equip him. The equipment on the left side is straightforward: Head, right arm, left arm, body, feet. The right side has five accessory slots you can fill. You can't remove items from the right arm, by the way, though you can exchange them. Use L and R to switch between characters. As for the stats, I'm not really sure about any of them, but as far as guesswork goes, here's what they mean:
ATK and DEF are basic attack and defense stats. They are only provided by equipment; characters have no basic ATK or DEF.
You can also see your Level, HP, and EXP at the bottom right. Like the SaGa games, your HP refills after every battle (even if you die completely). There's always exactly 100 EXP per level, but as you level up, enemies give less EXP after fights.
Finally, you can put the cursor on "Best" and hit A to give you the strongest equipment, but only as far as ATK and DEF goes. As usual, I recommend against using it.
The next menu option is Item. You can move items around by pressing A on one and then A on another one. "Double-clicking" an item brings up its status menu - what stats it affects and whether it protects from status effects or damage types. (No, you can't "use" items from this screen, besides for exactly one item, UpgradeParts, which raises robots' HP.) You can also hit X and choose a Sorting option. "Sort" just gets rid of any empty spaces in the item list; "Heal" and "Fight" are self-evident; "Arms" puts equipment first. No, there's no way to alphabetically sort them. Use L to move up one screen and R to move down one screen.
Sk lists the skills for a character. There's no need to use them in the menu, so you can just see which skills the character has. Use L and R to switch characters.
Frm allows you to change the positions of the characters; generally speaking, enemies appear at the upper left, so you should put your stronger characters up and left.
Snd allows you to choose Stereo or Mono sound. Also, if you've beaten one or more chapters, you can listen to music from those chapters by choosing the bottom option (a cut-off music symbol). If you've finished the final chapter at all, you'll have some more tunes to choose from.
Save is self-explanatory. You have four slots to save into.
OK. Battle takes place on a 7x7 grid. Each character takes up one space; enemies may take up more than one space. Battle is not in real-time; you can take as long as you want to choose your moves.
Press A to have your character move. He has four options. "Fight" lets you choose a technique to use. No, there's no default "attack" option. You must use a technique to inflict damage. "Pass" lets the next person in your party move instead of you. "Item" chooses an item to use, and "Run" or "Teleport" exits the battle (unless it's grayed out, this always works).
About time: Most actions take up a certain amount of "time". These include moving your character, using any technique, waiting, or turning around. You can "wait" by hitting the Y button. You can turn your character around by pressing R; if an enemy attacks you from behind, damage may be higher. As a shortcut, you can hit X when your character is selected to reuse the last attack you used on an enemy. Start pauses the battle (though it's not really necessary).
About techniques: Everything in battle is a technique. Characters, enemies, and even items use them, and there's some overlap between them. Techniques can be quick (instantaneous) or slow (or even slower). Slow techniques (even from items) must be "charged up"; a character can't move when he's charging a technique. Once a certain amount of "time" has elapsed, the technique will be used. Note that some techniques "knock you back"; when this happens, any technique that's charging will be cancelled. Also note that enemies may move away from the target square(s) while you're charging, so that's also a risk.
About damage types: There are five physical damage types (Sharp, Dull, Strangle, Hand, and Foot) and five magical damage types (Mind, Fire, Wind, Water, and Earth). No one can completely defend against any damage types, but some equipment raises defense against them.
About fields: Some techniques cause damage fields to be created on the battlefield. When a character or monster steps into that field, he'll be damaged. Unlike damage types, it IS possible to completely defend against elemental fields and actually be healed from them. There are poison (takes off 16 HP), fire (24), water (8), and elec/wind fields (32). Fields will take off HP after a certain amount of time has gone by. Also, after damaging a character/enemy a certain amount of times, the field will disappear.
About status: Both you and the enemy can have and inflict status problems on each other. Most healing items heal all stats as well. Here's a rundown of them:
Stun: Target can't move for a short period of time. Charging techniques are cancelled.
Sleep: Target can't move until he is hit by a physical attack or it runs out. Charging techniques are cancelled. Usually lasts longer than Stun.
Poison: Target will lose some HP as time goes on.
Hand: Target can't use any techniques requiring hands.
Foot: Target can't use any techniques requiring feet, and he can't move around.
Drunk: Target can only use his "normal" attack. Also when trying to move around, your movement will be randomized. Usually wears off after a short amount of time.
Stone: Target can't move. It's still possible for him to lose or gain HP, though. If all characters are Stone or KO'd, the game ends.
K.O.: Character is lying down and has a circle around his head. This is caused when your HP falls to 0. If the character is hit one more time by any amount of damage, he will be permanently removed from that battle. To heal it, just heal his HP.
About monsters: Monsters usually take up more than one square. Hitting any part of them will cause them to take damage and act accordingly.
About techniques: They're a bit complicated. ^^; See Techniques for more info.
That's it for now!