Review by James Jeans

"A great game. Graphics aren't everything, you know."

Back in December, 1989, I was faced with a choice. At the tender age of seven, I was obsessed with the Nintendo Entertainment System. When it came time to chose what Christmas presents I wanted, it was a choice between Final Fantasy or Faxanadu. I had heard good things about both from some close friends, and in the end, I picked Faxanadu. I can't convey how happy I am that I went with the latter.

Sure, I love the Final Fantasy series, but back when I was seven, Final Fantasy would have simply frustrated me. Faxanadu, on the other hand, was really a lot of mindless fun. The story begins with your nameless character returning to his home town at the base of the World Tree after a long journey. He finds that the place is almost deserted and the buildings and walls are crumbling. On top of that, his race, the Elves, have come under attack by the Dwarfs, who live in the underworld.

I give the story a 9 out of 10 rank. While it was a nice change from the mindless banter seen in Super Mario Brothers, Marble Madness, Jaws, the Goonies, and many other games of the time, the translation could be extremely horrendous. I was seven years old, remember, and even I was stunned by what some of the people said. Other than that, however, I was most pleased.

Graphics wise, I give it a 10 out of 10. For the old NES system, the graphics were SWEET! There were backgrounds, for one thing. In Mario Brothers, we simply got a blue or black backdrop with the odd cloud every few screens. In this game, though, there were intricate backgrounds, and the mist was even a little creepy as you go further into the World Tree. Another plus on my list was the fact that the hero's armor and weapons changed ON SCREEN when you equipped them. Even to this day I really appreciate that feature. We never get that with Final Fantasy, or a lot of the other RPGs out there.

Sound & Music gets a 9 out of 10. While the music is quite good for the NES, some of the sound FX were simply annoying. I never could figure out why some Videogames HAVE to have sounds that are just so... Imposing. The sound of hitting an enemy was terrible, but I loved the sound when they died, and when your character dies. The 'Faxanadu' Title Theme sticks with me even today. I find myself humming it all of the time. I would have like to have seen an arranged OST to the game.

Game-play was decent, and I give it an 9 out of 10. The only real problem I had with the game-play was jumping. When you jump, the character drops like a brick. You have no real control of him when he's in the air. And when an enemy hits you, or you touch poison, the character is knocked back halfway across the screen. The AI of the enemies is pretty stupid, and somehow that seems to make the game harder. The bat-like Dwarf and the Dwarf that is just a large head with two giant arms (you kill it to get the Black Onyx) are real pains in the butt when it comes to fighting them without magic. Early in the game, the Bat-Like Dwarf can kill you with three or four hits.

Replay Value earned a 9 out of 10. The game is short, but it's really fun, so I have no problem playing through it more than once. It is actually one of the only games I own that still gives me trouble. I always have a harder time beating games on the NES than any other platform. I don't know why, but that raises the replay value for me.

On another note, I always wished to see a sequel to this game. The ending leaves it open for one. Heck, even a film based on the game would have been nice.

Well, that's all for me. Take it easy, peeps.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 02/09/01, Updated 02/09/01

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