Faxanadu is a side-scrolling action-adventure game for the Nintendo Entertainment System, developed by Hudson Soft and first released in Japan in 1987. The game was subsequently published in the American market by Nintendo two years later, and in Europe a year after that. A digital version of Faxanadu was also later re-released on the North American Virtual Console for the Wii on February 21, 2011.
The title is a spin-off to Nihon Falcom's Xanadu which in turn was the second installment in the company's Dragon Slayer family of RPGs. The game's title, "Faxanadu", is a portmanteau derived from the amalgamation of the words "Famicom" and "Xanadu."
The game begins with the player-character, who is never specifically named, seen trudging back to his home town of Eolis at the foot of the World Tree, only to find that all is not as it should be. The walls are crumbling and the wells have run dry, and the people are being savaged by a mysterious influx of monsters. Several of the non player-characters in the opening segments of the game, as if sensing the PC's unique brand of heroism, charge him with the task of restoring the land to its rightful state. Eolis's King tells him that the town's life source, the Elf Fountain water, is no longer flowing and that many men have perished in their efforts to discover what went wrong. As the town's last hope (the guy outside perpetually smoking a pipe must be a conscientious objector), the King sends the player character on their way with 1500 Golds (a famous and recurring translation error in the game), and leaves the player to get on with it. The player learns that the Dwarves at the top of the World Tree have discovered a meteorite and have been manipulated by it, turning insane and damaging the World Tree and it's water system, while attacking the elves, the other inhabitants of the World Tree. It is up to the player to defeat the evil influence and restore the World Tree, restoring peace between the dwarves, elves and the humans.
The game's starting town of Eolis is situated at the base of an exceptionally large tree known as the World Tree, which constitutes the game's various areas. The player steadily moves upwards through the World Tree in a mostly linear fashion, although it is possible and indeed necessary in some cases to backtrack, in order to open new doors or to buy items, weapons and armor. The player will encounter a wide variety of enemies on his travels, from large skulls that hop on one leg to shuffling crab-like creatures with large spines for protection. Enemies can be defeated in a variety of ways, ranging from physical attacks such as daggers and swords, to projectile magic spells. As the game progresses and the player gains access to more towns, the player's weapons, magic and armor can be upgraded using the gold that the enemies occasionally drop once eliminated. Other enemies will drop food, which will restore a small amount of health points instead.
The player also earns experience points as enemies are defeated, which increases the player's Experience Rank, earning them new titles. In this sense, Faxanadu incorporates some RPG elements to its gameplay alongside the more action-oriented fighting mechanics.
The game could not be saved as such, although the player could receive a password in the form of a Mantra that the Gurus in the game's many towns would reveal upon visiting them, allowing the player to continue from the place in which the Mantra was received.
Faxanadu has many towns that the player can visit. In order of discovery, they are Eilos, Apolune, Forepaw, Mascon, Victim, Conflate, Daybreak and Dartmoor.
Each town holds host to a general list of establishments, but some towns will be absent of particular locations. For example, the first town in the game, Eolis, contains establishments not found later in the game, such as a gym which restores health. Some locations are not exclusive to towns, either. Hardware stores, churches and homes can be found in dungeons.
- Church: Players can consult the gurus to save their game, recieve valuable information or items such as rings.
- Butcher: Players can buy fresh food, which will restore a small amount of mana and health.
- Hardware Store: Players can purchase items such as weapons, potions or elixers.
- Inn: Players can speak to patrons to learn information.
- Hospital: Players can pay a fee to have all their health and mana restored.
- Locksmith: Players can buy keys here.
- Home: Another location where players can gain information.
Loot such as armor, weapons, magic spells or items can be found out in the wild, or purchased from stores. Prices of items vary from town to town, usually getting more expensive as the game progresses. For example: in the starting town, a Red Potion is 160 gold. But at the final town in the game it costs 1200 gold.
- Hand Dagger: The first weapon available to the player. It has a very limited range and cannot attack ground enemies.
- Long Sword
- Giant Blade
- Dragon Slayer: Obtained by killing the King Dwarf. When equipped, the player can use the Battle Suit and Battle Helmet. It is required to defeat the final boss.
- Leather Armor
- Studded Mail
- Full Plate
- Battle Suit
Shields can block magic attacks, but the player must be stationary for it to work.
- Small Shield
- Large Shield
- Magic Shield
- Battle Helmet
Magic can be obtained through stores and uses the player's mana.
- Fire: Taught by a wizard in the outskirts of Victim for 3000 gold. It sends enemies across the room.
- Tilte: The most powerful spell in the game. It can be purchased in Daybreak for 15000 gold.
All items mentioned are single use.
- Red Potion: Will restore all of the player's health.
- Elixir: If the player is killed, the Elixir will automatically bring them back to life, restoring all their health and mana.
- Wing Boots: Allows the player to levitate for a short while to gain access to areas unreachable by foot. It is required at a certain point in the game to reach a spring in the sky.
- Key: Are used to gain access to doors. Each key has an inscription such as King, Queen, Joker etc; and will only open its corresponding lock. For example, a Jack key will only only a Jack door and so on.
- Mattock: Can be used to destroy small sections of walls, and is necessary to gain access to the town of Forepaw.
- Hour Glass: Will stop movement of all enemies on the screen, allowing the player to defeat them easily, but will not work on bosses.
Faxanadu was composed by Jun Chikuma and is regarded as having one of the most memorable soundtracks of any NES game, and various modern-day renditions of the game's wide assortment of music can be found online.