Review by Doug.
"This "classic" doesn't stand the test of time."
Faxanadu is a very old NES game. It is a side-scrolling adventure that stars a nameless hero trying to save the Elves from, well, something you don't really know much about. Apparently, the wells and fountains are running dry and the formerly peaceful Dwarfs (which look a lot like dragons) have been attacking. As a traveler returning to his home town and finding it all messed up, it falls to you to do something about it.
Gameplay is simple and repetitive. You see an enemy, and you slash it with your sword a few times and it dies. You can also use magic, which means that you can throw horizontally traveling projectiles at enemies until the enemies are dead or your magic meter runs out. There's some jumping on platforms (no bottomless pits in this game - there's always a floor to land on), as well.
The game has some minor RPG elements; you can gain experience and ''Golds'' by defeating enemies, but the experience is mostly useless. The only effect that experience has on the game is determining how much money and EXP you have after you die or start the game using a password. The game cartridge doesn't save your game, and the font used for entering passwords is weird; a lower case ''c'' looks like it might be a lower case ''e'' while upper case ''H'' looks like an upper case ''N''. Golds are used to buy items from shops; you can buy a few equipment upgrades and new spells over the course of the game, along with the standard healing potions and some other stuff that you don't need to use very often.
The game tries to tell a story, but completely fails. The quests are no more meaningful than ''go find X so we will be saved,'' there are no characters with more than a few lines of dialogue, the text appears too slowly, shopkeepers blink incessantly, and you don't learn anything about the final enemy other than that it is called the ''Evil One.'' As an RPG, this game is severely lacking.
The action element of this game is also rather boring. There are many different enemies to fight, but they follow similar patterns of movement and are either easy to deal with or positioned in such a way that you can't possibly attack them without taking a hit first yourself. Bosses also tend to have exploitable patterns; often you can just stand in a safe place and throw magic at them or just keep swinging your sword and using healing potions until they die. There's no real challenge involved as long as you remember to keep buying potions.
The game's graphics are, well, ugly. Everything is dark and dreary. Most things are a boring shade of brown, and those that aren't are a dull shade of some other color. Like everything else in this game, the appearance contributes to the general feeling of repetitiveness and boredom. The music is acceptable, but can't save the rest of this game.
There are far better games of this style out there. Faxanadu is a little like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, only without all the things that make a game fun. You can finish the game in about three days, but they would be three days better spent on something else. For being boring, dull, and lacking challenge or anything else to keep me interested, Faxanadu rates a 2 out of 10.
Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 07/15/03, Updated 07/15/03
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