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"Daggers and wingboots, mantras and monsters await you."—Box cover
Faxanadu is a 1987 Side View Action Adventure Role Playing Game for the NES and Famicom. It is considered a side story for the Dragon Slayer series of videogames and is actually a port/spinoff of the PC 88 game Dragon Slayer II Xanadu (Faxanadu being a portmanteau name of Famicom Xanadu).
The game features the adventure of a nameless elf who returns to his home town of Eolis to find it depopulated and overrun by monsters. After a visit to the local church and the King, the hero is tasked by the King to infiltrate the "World Tree" and awaken three springs of pure water. Afterwards, The Hero is sent to the higher branches of the World Tree to locate and defeat the Evil One, the hideous monster responsible for the invasion of the towns.
The hero can equip different types of items: weapons, armor, shield, and miscellaneous that can be used directly in the overworld map. He can learn magic as well, and use different spells with different attributes and effects to attack enemies.
This game contains examples of:
- Alien Invasion - The Evil One is heavily implied to be an alien who came to the world on a "meteorite" and is corrupting the Dwarves to do his bidding. He even looks like another famous Alien.
- All There in the Manual - the structure of the overworld, as well as the nature of the Evil One, are only barely hinted in the game but far better explained in the game manual's imagery.
- Ambidextrous Sprite
- Big Bad - The Evil One.
- The Dragon - a literal one -- the King of Dwarves was turned into a dragon-like creature.
- Chain-Reaction Destruction: Bosses like to go down with that manner.
- Disc One Nuke - with quite some backtracking (or careful use of the keys and the "mattock" item), either the Magic Shield (the second strongest shield in the game) or the aptly named Death spell (about eight times as powerful as the basic spell) can be acquired as early as the second town.
- Doomed Hometown: the starting town is the player's hometown; by the time the game begins the town is already "overrun by monsters" according to the first encountered NPC who goes on to announce that "the end is near".
- Dummied Out: a "lamp" item, a "book" item, and other items referencing the original Xanadu, were dummied out from the final game. As their script routines are reserved but left blank, some ROM Hacks exist that actually reintegrate these items to the gameplay with new effects.
- Elves vs. Dwarves - if only because the Evil One turned the Dwarves into psychotic monsters. This is actually discussed at some point early in the game.
- Fight in The Nude - averted. Equipping different armour changes the character sprite.
- Flip Screen Scrolling
- Invincibility Power-Up - "I am free from injury because of the Ointment!". Probably due to a bug, it prevented magic damage only when the player had NOT equipped a Shield. It was still possible to bypass this limitation by flinging the sword at the right moment.
- Meaningful Name - the tower mazes, which feature names such as the Tower of Suffer.
- Metroidvania - a world map considered in-game to be of gigantic proportions comprised by the town of Eolis, the World Tree and the Fortress of the Evil One.
- Monster Town - below one of the towers are a set of houses inhabited by enemies; a nearby somewhat hidden NPC reveals it used to be part of the nearby town.
- Not Completely Useless - the Hour Glass, a time-freezing item which caused some minor glitches in some parts of the game, is particularly useful against the Final Boss: it prevents him from firing projectiles.
- Our Dwarves Are Different: In this game, they are eight-foot-tall gargoyles.
- Poison Mushroom - the overworld sprites for useful Potion and damaging Poison are much alike (see also Real Is Brown), causing some players to mistake one for the other and take a fatal poison in a moment when they are low of health.
- Power-Up Letdown - due to a programming error, the optional Pendant, which the hero can acquire in a Bonus Dungeon during a Sidequest, lowers attack power instead of raising it.
- Real Is Brown - the games uses a particularly vivid color palette with an abundance of brown and red tints, especially in the upper branches of the World Tree. This gives the game a more realistic aura than some other games around its time. In contrast, the base of the World Tree uses a greener palette. As an unfortunate side effect, the browner palette makes it difficult to distinguish some items and enemies at certain screens during the second part of the game.
- Justified since the World Tree is withering. The final scene shows it restored and green.
- Save Point - the churches are a variation of save systems, as they give you a password, called a "mantra". The mantra depends on the player experience and stores the inventory, golds and the location of the furthest church the player has visited, which is the point the player is returned to when he continues.
- Sword of Plot Advancement: The Dragon Slayer must be activated after the other parts of the mythical suits are collected for the last Guru to enable access to the final dungeons.
- Theme Naming: the different types of keys are named and shaped after the "letter cards" (J)ack, (Jo)ker, (Q)ueen, (K)ing and (A)ce.
- World Tree - the setting of the majority of the game (actually, only the starting town and the Final Dungeon are not part of it).