Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Faxanadu (NES)

I'm playing this one because of a request. Faxanadu is actually a portmanteau of the words Famicom and Xanadu, it's a spin-off of the Dragon Slayer series... and that's the limit of my knowledge. I'm not sure what to expect from it at all really.

This has to be one of the most exciting unskippable intros I've had the pleasure to endure lately. It tells the story of how our hero walked slowly up to the town of A (home of the world's biggest tree).

I made it loop in case you wanted to see it a few more times to take it all in.

Our hero returns from a long journey to find that his home town is almost deserted. And worse, people are gone!

The poor guy looks absolutely shocked. Actually he looks a bit like a Castlevania hero, and he moves a lot like them too. Once I've pressed the jump button I have absolutely no control until he's landed, and if I'm not pressing a direction he'll just jump straight up.

After struggling for a few seconds to get off this screen the conventional way, I eventually figured out I could press up at the door to go inside.

This character started walking over to me as I entered the town, and I had to jump out of the way. I've no way of knowing what the enemies look like yet, and this guy has a different style sprite to mine, so I'm erring on the side of caution.

It turned out that they were just a harmless NPC, here to tell me to see the King right away! Apparently he has me confused for a tough adventurer who gets shit done against incredible odds.

I went inside one of the (unmarked) doors to find a shopkeeper offering me food to recover some health. Unfortunately the guy expects me to actually pay for his produce, and I apparently wasted all my cash on souvenirs during my time on the road.

Oh shit, this side of the town is being guarded by an erratic evil hopping Homer Simpson head, and he bites!

I'm pressing the punch button every time he hops over, but he's shrugging off every hit. I can't tell if I'm even doing anything.

Fuck, this isn't good. I managed to get past the guy, but this door's locked and now I don't have the health to get back across. I can't believe I'm going to lose to the first enemy in the game.

I woke to find that the kind townspeople had apparently dragged me over to a church, where I was healed to full health and given a mysterious Ring of Elf. Not sure what it does, but now both my M and P bars are at full strength.

Okay, before I go bothering anymore monsters I'll need to sort myself out. But to buy equipment I'll need money, which I probably get by killing monsters. It's a conundrum.

To be honest, I really wasn't expecting to find a guy smoking in a Nintendo game.

I've found another pair of (unmarked) doors to investigate too. Did the invading monsters steal all the signs or something?

I went inside one of the doors and found a key shop, which is... huh, is that guy smoking too? Anyway, now I know where to get the key for the door, but it's going to cost me 100 Golds.


Oh, okay. Well that's solved all my problems. Thanks man.

The King explains that the Elf fountain water has been cut off, and only I can resolve the situation. Mainly because he's already sent everyone else who wasn't busy smoking or selling something, and they all got themselves killed.

I should go check out the other buildings and see if there's anything more deadly than keys and food to spend my cash on before I head back to that locked door.

Yeah, I think I should probably pay for some skills. The King thinks I'm the saviour of his town, but right now I can't even punch out an Evil Homer.

Well I paid my cash but I've got no clue what it's given me. Actually, I just noticed that he refilled my health, and I'm really hoping that isn't all I'm getting for my money.

Magic! That's even better than martial arts, and it'll be easier to tell exactly what I got out of it.

I... got nothing.

Oh shit, don't tell me that these two just refill my health and mana gauges and that's it? Well I just totally wasted a third of my cash. Great.

This shot was taken one second before I walked forward straight into a monster hiding behind that wall.

This is the default setting for the screen as well; when I walk in from the left that monster will always be there, meaning they probably hid him there deliberately. -10 points for cruel game design.

Awesome, this is what I've been looking for. I'll take the hand dagger thanks.

I think I'll equip this right now in the shop, and I'll leave the rest until I've unlocked the door and gotten some extra cash.

Huh, where's my dagger, why aren't I doing any damage?

Oh fuck it, I'm going out through the door and making a run for it. I'm so sick of this town now.


Okay I've lost a bit of health, and can't actually hurt any enemies, but I think I'm actually making some progress here!


Agh, killed again! The game pops up a message box telling me to 'remember my mantra' which is a particularly vague and pointless thing to say.

Damn I suck at this game so bad. I'm never going to get anywhere in this bloody thing if I can't even hit the enemies. It's completely hopeless, I might as well just give up now.

Oh great, the game took all my money as payment for my resurrection. So now I'm back at square one.

Well not quite at square one, the game did let me keep my dagger. It turns out that the reason I was doing so badly in combat was because you can't equip weapons inside the weapon shop. So now I've got a blade in my hand, and I'm dying to try it out on something.

Well I can't hit the spiky things yet, but the Evil Homers go down in three hits, leaving me with a 59 Golds coin for my trouble.

And I needed to kill two of them to earn the cash to get the locked door open, because some asshole had locked it up again. My first key had broke in the lock, so I had to buy a new one. That locksmith is a devious bastard.


YES! I've finally made it to the next town. And this one actually has signs on its buildings, it's fantastic!

The NPCs give me cryptic info about the "Tower of Trunk". It reminds me a lot of games like Battle of Olympus, Castlevania 2, and Zelda 2, but in this I feel like I have more of a fighting chance to figure it all out.

I'm sure these items all used to be cheaper. Though the small shield is new. I think I should save up and get myself one of those.


I'm running on fumes here, but I'm on my way back to town #2 with 785 Golds, and these two are the last obstacle between me and that shield.

I hope this shield actually helps, because I'm really struggling in fights right now.

Son of a bitch! I was one kill away from getting enough cash for the shield, but the hopping Homer head hit me first. And of course I was teleported right back to church in the first town, with no money and no experience points.

Ten minutes totally wasted.

Well if I'm going to be wasting ten minutes, I'm going to do it on my own damn terms. I'm going to sit here at the locked door grinding for money so I have enough to afford the shield before I even leave town. Maybe I'll even get a level up too while I'm here.

I just wish my guy wouldn't move so damn slow. It's not so bad in combat, but the walk to the shops feels like it's taking longer each time.


Got the shield! I'm still only halfway to the level up though.

I went to chat to the priest in the second town hoping I could set the church as my new restart point, but he just yelled at me so I ran off.


Hah, I knew it was a good idea to buy a key before I left, and of course it turned out to be the exact one I needed for this door. These people have very strange ideas about security.

I wonder if this is the 'Tower of Trunk' the people in town mentioned. Looks more like a giant sandcastle to me.

Well that ain't fair. How the hell am I supposed to get across there? Even if I had enough health to survive touching it, the creature would just knock me back down the gap.

After a few tries I managed to swipe it with my sword while jumping down the gap, and after a few more hits I was free to jump across. And fortunately it turns out that these guys drop health pick ups instead of money, so I was able to get enough life back to survive the journey back to town. Because I wasn't going to push my luck trying to get any further in that condition.

Fortunately because I made it back to town alive for once, I got to keep my hard earned money. But then I spent it all on deluge magic. Aka, FIREBALLS.

My magic power doesn't regenerate, but I can't help wasting a little to wreck these two assholes for wasting my time earlier.

This time I walked straight past the sandcastle, and found my path blocked by a dagger-proof wall. I guess I'm not going this way until I've finished up inside the Tower of Trunk.


Fuck, it's a boss, and I'm rubbish!

I spam all the hadoukens I have left at him, and it turns out to be just enough. He explodes into coins... and a pickaxe. Well, a mattock, same thing. It'll get me through that dagger-proof wall just as well.

I don't believe it! These assholes block my path on the way up, and then they respawn and block me on the way down too. It seems there's no way to get through some of these areas without taking a little damage.

And the I got killed by one of those evil yellow jumpy things on the way back. All my dragon treasure, gone.

Though I did get to keep the bloody mattock, so it wasn't a wasted trip.


Well I used the mattock to smash open the wall, but now I've got another problem. Dancing Homers. C'mon, move out of the way already!

I can't afford to take any risks now, because I have a theory that if I get my guy killed again, that wall is going to close up and I'm going to have to go all the way back up to kill the bloody dragon again to get another mattock. Or not, because I'd actually just turn the game off and never touch it again.


I finally made it to town three, and I went into the church to set it as my new restart point, when this happened. It turns out that I have to talk to the priest when I have enough xp to get my level up.

I managed to get my poor hero killed again a few minutes later, and found that with his new title he gets to keep a fair amount of xp, and receives 500 Golds after respawning. This gives me an idea...

Okay, so his money is reset to 500 Golds each time he dies, but he also gets to keep his items. So if I buy a 500 Golds key every time he respawns, I can invest the money in something that won't disappear. Sure I only get half the cash back after selling them, but it's a definite improvement over getting none of it back.


That's better. My investment finally paid off. And every level up I get means I receive more cash after a respawn. It's a strange checkpoint system, but it kind of works.

I actually tried backtracking to buy some interesting gear I noticed in another shop along the way, but that dagger-proof wall came back like I thought, so I'm trapped on this side until I find another mattock.

Okay, enough investment, back to adventuring. There's a door up here and I bet it's got the next quest item I need inside.


Okay, I found a guy inside who says he needs me to bring him some Elixir for... something, I wasn't listening. But this place is a damn maze!

I get the feeling that's the stuff though, right over there on the left. Across this chasm and behind a wall. Game designers love to play that trick, showing you the goal right away but making you go around the long way to get to it.


Well this definitely wasn't Elixir, worth a shot though. I have to wonder if these bottles look any different to normal health potions. If not I'm subtracting 17 points for evil game design.

Though I will award it 20 points for not having bottomless instant-death pits (yet), when a single missed jump could mean that I'd wasted 15 minutes of gameplay.


Shit, he's dropping stuff on me! Well this isn't fair, not until I get to hit him back.

In the next room I finally found the Elixir, exactly where I thought it was going to be. Not that it made it any easier to find. A map would've been nice.

And then I walked back out to stab the guy dropping the boulders in the back, and he dropped a boulder on my head. So my hero automatically drank the Elixir to save his life. Meaning I've totally wasted my time here. I tried to stab him in the back for revenge... but he dropped another boulder on my head and I woke up at the church.

I was feeling some more negative thoughts at this point so I screamed gibberish at the priest, and he again screamed gibberish right back at me. Only this time his gibberish seemed more complex, more like... a game password. A mantra to remember. Seems like a good time to turn it off I reckon.

This game is an awkward pain in the ass, but I actually want to keep playing. It doesn't seem so unfair anymore now that I understand it better, and I found it easier to get into than a lot of the other platformer rpgs I've played on the site. So I guess I have to give it a gold star for entertaining me.


  1. One of my favorite NES games though I can't remember why because it does look crap and, as I recall, the control always felt broken.

  2. Thanks for reviewing this, definitely one of my favourites as a kid too. Nostalgia bomb.

  3. Thank you for reviewing this game. I remember playing and enjoying it long ago. I don't remember ever beating it, though, so maybe I'll have to try it again sometime.

  4. I have this game. I'm pretty surprised is not crap!
    I love your humor dudes. Play (mash buttons) Snake Rattle n Roll or Solar Jetman (NES). I wonder what you'll pull out. There's gonna be some dirty talk. Oh yes.

  5. You are awesome, thank you for confirming that the martial arts and magic dudes don't give you shit. I was amused by all the smoking there is in this game.

  6. Martial Arts and Magic guys refill your HP and Mana bars. Also at the start of the game, after the King gives you 1500 "Golds", if you spend all 1500, you can return to the King and receive another 1500. So you can easily deck yourself out with dagger, deluge, keys and potions from the get-go; sort of evens the odds against the annoying deliberately-in-the-way enemies.


Semi-Random Game Box