Retro Throwback – Faxanadu (NES) Review

faxanadu box art Retro Throwback   Faxanadu (NES) Review

Faxanadu for the NES is a spin-off from Nihon Falcom’s Dragon Slayer series. Faxanadu is kind of a hybrid between the Action/RPG/Platforming/Adventure genres. You play as a no-name hero who sets out to save the Elves from the Dwarves and restore the Elf fountain and the World Tree. The game is a side-scroller which plays somewhat similar to Zelda II’s battle sequences. But in Faxanadu, you don’t have an Overworld map or anything like that. You can go up, down, left, or right and kill the enemies on the screen or not, sometimes it’s not necessary to actually kill the enemies unless you need food (which is used as health in this game), gold, or experience. Speaking of experience, the experience system in this game is rather pointless in my opinion. You can go see a guru in a church and get a new title at set intervals but it doesn’t serve any purpose beyond saying what your title is in the sub-screen as far as I can tell.

The game has some awesome music, fun gameplay, decent graphics (for the time), decent length for what basically amounts to an action game, and is just fun. The game allows you to sequence break to some degree if you’re patient enough to grind out the gold required to buy top end equipment early on. You can also go straight to the boss of the area once you have the proper key and occasionally a special item, such as certain rings that allow you push blocks.

A couple things I don’t like about the game are the password system and the useless buildings and rooms. This game is famous for it’s long complicated passwords which use some sort of hybrid between a fantasy font and a normal font. This results in certain letters being hard to distinguish. For example, an uppercase letter H looks like an uppercase letter N. It’s pretty funny when NPCs in the game say Hello and it reads like Nello. Now the useless buildings and rooms on the other hand, I know that’s pretty typical RPG fair, but it still annoys me. Who wants to waste time exploring a room/building with nothing in it? In Faxanadu the areas you kill bosses in are separate from the main world you travel through. They’re basically the equivalent of dungeons in a dungeon crawler type game. Falcom for some reason thought it was cool to put in dungeons that serve no purpose. You don’t get anything of value from them, except some experience, some gold, and possibly a couple of consumable items, such as potions. Why couldn’t they put in more equipment and have you get some of it from a boss in these dungeons? Doesn’t make sense to me.

Overall though I think Faxanadu is a fun game and one I go back to occasionally to just play through again. If I were to give it a rating, I’d say it’s 8/10 for me. I took off 1.5 points for the useless dungeons, buildings, and rooms, and 0.5 points for the complicated password system with poor font choices. It’s available on Virtual Console, so if you like Action-Adventure games with minor RPG elements, I’d recommend picking it up. If you’re looking for a NES copy of Faxanadu you can find it on Amazon by clicking our affiliate link here! Retro Throwback   Faxanadu (NES) Review

Score Breakdown

  • Graphics – 8/10 - Like I said above, the graphics were pretty good for the time. Nowadays they’re not anything special, but your character is easily recognizable and buildings are easily distinguished once you know what each symbol means.
  • Sound/Music – 9/10 - The music in this game is the main draw from an audio perspective. I still hum it on occasion even though it’d been a while since I’ve actually played the game. The sound effects are nothing that special, standard fair, but they’re fine. The music takes the cake definitely.
  • Fun Factor – 8/10 - While I personally really enjoy this game, there are some frustrating aspects. If you’re on a ladder for example, you can be knocked off it. You can easily miss jumps in sections which requiring platforming skills and there’s almost always enemies that can mess you up in these parts of well. There’s also the limited duration items, like the Wing Boots for example, which if you’re not sure where to go when you need them to progress, you can waste a lot of gold buying new ones. There’s also one part where you have to go through a door but there are enemies we do area of effect damage (hits you no matter where you are on the screen). You wind up losing 1/4 – 1/2 your health just trying to walk in the door, which is annoying. Overall though it’s a fun game.
  • Story – 5/10 - This game doesn’t have a whole lot of story going for it, unless you talk to all the NPCs. Basically your goal is to save the Elves from the Dwarves, who poisoned their water and have seemingly killed the World Tree. The NPCs which do not sell you things or perform services (such as health restoration) are used to fill in the gaps and tell you more of the story, so if you skip on that you won’t get much out of it.
  • Challenge – 7/10 - As I mentioned above there are frustrating elements in this game which adds to the challenge. When magic hits you, like Deluge for example, even when you have a shield if I remember correctly. This doesn’t make sense. If I have a shield I should be able to block it, no? Some of the boss fights can be very tricky if you don’t know the tricks or patterns. For example the rock dropper boss on at least one or two of them you can come up behind him and avoid 90% of the rocks and kill him fairly quickly. A couple of the dragons you can just stand in one spot and hit it as it comes up to you without getting hit yourself. But there’s others where you don’t have that option.
  • Replay Factor – 5/10 - There’s really not much in the way of replay value for this game. There’s no multiplayer option of any kind, there’s no 2nd quest to my knowledge, as I mentioned there’s no real benefit from gaining experience, so there’s little reason to play through more than once. Like I said, I enjoy the game, so I like to replay it just for the heck of it sometimes. The only thing you can really do is set your own achievements/challenges, like going through the game with minimal equipment, magic, no health potions, etc.
Overall Score (Average) - 7/10
Overall Score (Non-Average) - 8/10

Source: GameSaga Original

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