June 10, 2013

2 Minute Drill: Faxanadu for the NES

I was pleasantly surprised when I popped Faxanadu in. The majority of NES games I pop into the system are crap and it was refreshing to see a game that may lead somewhere. I’ll call it Fax for short- this game is an action adventure RPG combined with a 2D sidescroller that has you on a quest to fill up some elven fountain. I can excuse some of the generic dialogue and plot lines because this game was made in 1987, but the fact that it had any of these things, including dialogue menus, even if they were crude, is amazing.

The controls are actually solid. It can be a little difficult sometimes to jump up on ladders or across platforms, but when I tell my guy to do something- he does it.
The first and biggest problem is the annoying resets. This game is HARD. If you die, it warps you all the way back to the beginning. I don’t know whether games did this because of design or because they wanted to do it on purpose, but it is a game breaker for me. You can cheat and use tool assists through emulators, but that will only take you so far. Some of these enemies, although unique and well done, hit you for so much health that one hit means you’re dead. I mean come on- I had to quasi glitch the first boss in order to kill it- I would have died otherwise. Another fun trick is if you kill an enemy and he provides life, you can go off the screen, the immediately come back and kill him again for exp and health. I never got to level, but the idea that there is experience in a game from 1987 is a radically new concept.

There are also magic spells in this game- though I didn’t get to access them. The menus are very crude and it can be very difficult to learn how to use items properly- partly due to the NES controller’s design. I constantly had to save states because something around the bend was going to kill me. I had to constantly load states too- because a death means you are stripped of your gold and experience- and you start WAY BACK at the beginning.

There is a password system to start where you left off, but it’s one of those 30-40 character long password systems called a “mantra”. I never bothered with it because I used tool assists. I’ll give it a 72.8 out of 100- it could have done so much better. I’m disappointed.

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