Get your side-scrollers ready for this week’s Retro Game of the Week!
The Nintendo Entertainment System was no stranger to 8-Bit RPG’s, many of which spawned series that have lasted decades. A handful however, remained as brief shining stars on the NES, and quickly burned out into obscurity. Enter Faxanadu, a Japanese game released in 1987 for the Famicon, that Nintendo decided American gamers should experience as well. In 1989, the oddly titled RPG hit US shores, and without fanfare are excitement, quietly settled onto store shelves. The gamers that took notice found an excellently crafted side-scrolling adventure that would rival that of Legend of Zelda II.
Faxanadu casts players into a world besieged by an evil being (standard RPG fare). Gamers assume the role of a nameless wanderer who returns to his Elven hometown to discover it besieged by dwarves, driven mad by previously said antagonist. After given a sum of the gold by the Elven king, gamers equip themselves and set off for adventure into a world fraught with monsters from various mythologies and religions. Devils, ancient creatures, and typical medieval RPG enemies are littered about, and the level design is very reminiscent of classic Zelda titles. As more enemies are destroyed and bosses conquered, the main character can gain experience points and attain higher levels. This allows access to more powerful equipment and a variety of offensive and defensive spells available. The game doesn’t rely on a battery save system built into the cart however, but a password system that is somewhat complicated compared to other tiles released around the same time. Nonetheless, the game provides many hours of exploration and even some puzzles to solve to keep gamers occupied and immersed in the 8-Bit world crafted before them.
Despite having all the right ingredients for a hit in a genre that was churning out many successful franchises at the time, Faxanadu quickly became a hidden gem among NES players. Nintendo Power even listed it among the top ten NES games only a year after Faxanadu’s release, but other big name titles crowded this RPG classic out of the general audience’s minds. Amongst the retro game collecting scene, the game is a must have for NES fans. Not only for Faxanadu’s somewhat obscurity, but also for the fact that the game is still enjoyable to play today, especially amongst classic RPG fans. Sourcing copies of the game today isn’t too difficult with it being only marginally more expensive that typical NES RPGs. If Legend of Zelda II impressed you and your looking for more side-scrolling RPG action, look no further than Faxanadu. Just don’t worry too much about where the name from, it might possibly be a portmanteau of the words Xanadu and Famicon, or something dreamed from someones acid trip, who knows….