Faxanadu (NES) Review

Faxanadu was released for the Famicom in 1987, and for the NES in 1989 by Hudson Soft. This is an action-adventure game like Zelda 2. It’s a spinoff of Xanadu, the 2nd game in the long running Dragon Slayer RPG series in Japan by Falcom. Your hero returns home and find sit ruined due to a war between the dwarves and elves at the World Tree, started when the Evil One emerged from a meteorite. You travel the World Tree, fighting monsters and collecting gear in the towns you find along with magic and keys to be able to proceed. You have a life and magic bar, which decreases as you use magic and take damage. Enemies can drop gold or bread, bread refills your life. In towns you can refill your life at a price along with getting items and saving your game via password and getting a title from speaking to a Guru. Doctors (and “Nurse Boy”) can refill your health completely in towns too. This is one those early NES games with a long password of various characters that you need to write down properly.

I never played this game as a kid or teen, I discovered this some years ago when i got into NES emulation via my Dreamcast and loved it. I recently rediscovered how good and charming this title is earlier this current year from some friends, and gave it another playthrough which rekindled the magic of this hidden gem of a game, and i picked up a complete copy of it for my collection!

GRAPHICS AND SOUND: Seeing how this game takes place in the World Tree, all the graphics have Earth tones of various shades of green, browns and sepia tones. Bob Ross would love them! They’re very pretty to look at as you travel towns, the tree itself and various dungeons. Your hero’s look changes as he gains different armor and weapons too: from a guy walking around in his boxers poking enemies with a butter knife to a full fledged knight with a long pointed sword. Talking to important npcs like guru’s and doctor’s bring up a portrait of them as you speak which are quite nice to look at and have a bit of animation in them with their blinking eyes. Enemies range from your hero’s size to large beasts you gotta stab with your sword or use magic on.

The music is very charming and worth listening to outside of the game. I have a number of favorite tunes and you won’t get tired or find them annoying! The sound effects can be annoying wit the scratching sound when you stab enemies or take damage. Enemies explode in a lovely sound before dropping gold or bread for you.

PLAY CONTROL: Your hero is easy to control through towns and the different areas of the World Tree. When it comes to platforming aspects there will be times you fall off ladders or other platforms due to enemies or the controls itself. You take a good deal of pushback when you get hit by enemies or their projectiles, which sometimes can push you off screen, resulting in having to do everything all over again. Worse if you get pushed off a screen when fighting a boss, you gotta do everything again too. Also watch that you don’t get pushed out of an area after using a key, cause you’ll be forced to rescue a key to get back into the area or dungeon, resulting in wasting a key or having to go back to a town to buy an extra one.

CHALLENGE: The game isn’t hard, but like most adventure titles there’s leveling and trial and error. Saving your game is done via Gurus who give you a long password string. Like most password strings of that day, misprinting one character wrong can lock you out of your game. Like i mentioned in other reviews, take a photo with your phone if you gotta. Inventory management is limited, so you’ll need to split between healing potions and keys and leave room for anything else you may find. Once you hit endgame, you can load up on healing potions or elixirs since you won’t be needing keys anymore.

Your hero’s weapon range will vary as you play from a wimpy butter knife to a long sword. Remember that when stabbing enemies while xp or gold grinding or making progress. Not knowing how enemies move along with your limited range can result in uneeded damage. Or just use your projectile magic if your magic is filled up enough.


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