Faxanadu: Then and Now Review
Game: Sword Game I can’t even pronounce.
Release Date: I never heard of this game but I got it for my 5th Birthday along with Super Mario Bros. 3
Bottom Line: Why do I die so much?
I had received this game as a birthday gift from my oldest brother. My mom got me what I really wanted, Super Mario Bros. 3, but I opened Faxanadu first because she hide my actual desire at the last moment. This game laid to collect dust for a few weeks while I thoroughly explored the game, ignoring the whistle secret seen in the Wizard (a testament to video game advertisement, an entire MOVIE for an ad for a game). Super Mario Bros. 3 is another story however; since I lived really close to my brother Faxanadu laid on a shelf, open, yet unplayed, and it started noticeably collecting dust.
I got a little bored of Mario 3 and my brother guilt tripped me so eventually I started up Faxanadu.
“Wow this looks really boring”
This is 5 year old speak for the colors were really dull. I played the shit out of SMB3, and that was full of colors, with lots of variety of stages, themes and design.
But this was really dull.
The intro was just as dull. Nothing happened in Faxanadu. In the SMB3 intro there was a “play” with wacky antics. Even if you didn’t press anything everything moved.
Then there’s this:
Keep in mind that I was 5. I could read, but not very well. I had to ask my mom what deserted meant. I thought that there were deserts around but that didn’t make sense.
And then I got stuck. My older brother eventually told me that there was a door to the right that maybe I should press up to go in. Smartass. This isn’t very fun, there’s nothing fun about this game yet. I barely started and I’m having problems with everything about it.
I went right and found something hopping around:
I tried fighting it with the B button because it looks like I’m punching stuff. It didn’t work at all, and I died pretty quickly. After being stuck with nothing to do I stopped playing this game for a few years.
Game: Faxanadu (Fax and a do)
Release Date: 1989
Bottom Line: I wish I could read back then, this game was ahead of its time.
This game is amazing compared to other games were released at the time. Almost other games for the NES before it were pretty simple minded. Even Ninja Gaiden with their cutscenes had a simple directive that was like an action-movie oriented. This game had lore that described what was going on in their world, even if it didn’t pertain to the main plot. The NPC’s talked to you about the fact that their world was crumbling and that there was problems; they also described feuds between the dwarves and the elves.
The main plot of the story is thus:
There are wells that need to be fixed, and lots of would be adventurers have already tried and failed. So the king gives you 1500 golds to go and save their world.
The presentation is very subtle. The game beyond the initial town is actually very colorful sometimes and sometimes not: the dull color schemes sometimes presented is actually on purpose, because the game explains that everything is dying due to the life wells not working anymore. The game’s optional lore as explained by the townspeople in every town explain what happened or is happening, and also sometimes give hints on what to do.
There are a large variety of enemies, weapons, magic and items to keep the game interesting as well, and large bosses that are challenging: the final boss takes up 60% of the screen and actually moves around, unlike the large Megaman bosses at the time where they just stayed still. Potions that heal you, flying items, a full restore item that acts like an instant 1up on the spot when your health becomes 0, lots of swords, body armor, shields and finally a lot of secret items that can range from stopping time to invincibility show an array of interesting items that you can collect.
There are issues with the game however. For one, if you spend the initial money wrong you can be defenseless and not be able to attack. You need to buy a dagger and a key from two initial shops at the very least before you can even leave town and have a chance. Another issue is that your initial weapon sucks. Its hitbox is terribly small and does not hit the initial spiky enemies you find; you have to use magic to kill those. There was also a password save system that is extremely long and used all the letters, case sensitive, with numbers: I did not enjoy writing I or O and not knowing what it meant when I wanted to play again.
I still play this game occasionally. You really can’t go wrong with a game like this. Cave Story, Metroid and Zelda 2 have nothing on this game, and you should give it a try if you like any of those games.