Players guide the hero through a screen-by-screen series of fields, towns, and dungeons. The hero can walk, jump, and climb ladders – all typical characteristics of a platform game. Along the way, he may also purchase usable items with gold, equip and use bladed weapons against enemies, equip armor, and cast magic projectiles. In addition, he can access information regarding the game's events by speaking with townsfolk or by consulting other sources.
The limits of physical damage the hero can sustain from enemies is tracked by a life bar, and the magical power he can exert is tracked by a magic bar. These are listed on the top of the screen along with total experience, total golds, time (for items with a timed duration), and the currently held item.
When the hero defeats an enemy, it usually leaves behind golds or life-giving bread, and the hero gains a set amount of experience. Experience points help increase the hero's rank (see below). Occasionally, an enemy will also drop an item, some of which activate specific effects when touched and some of which can be stored for later use.
The game utilizes not a saved game system, but a password one, allowing players to stop and restart their journeys by entering a sequence of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and punctuation marks. Passwords, or "mantras" as they are known in the game, can be obtained from church-dwelling Gurus. Gurus also bestow ranks to the hero when he meets certain experience totals; these determine the amounts of experience and golds a player will possess upon resuming a game via password.
Because of its use of statistics, reliance on story, thematic basis upon Medieval fantasy, and provision of interactive NPCs, many observers have classified Faxanadu as a role-playing video game.
Faxanadu was largely unknown at the time of release and eventually fell into obscurity. Despite this, the game has received critical acclaim. IGN gave the game an 8 out of 10. GameSpot also gave the game an 8 of 10, with one reviewer calling it "a highly overlooked masterpiece." IGN re-reviewed the game in 2011, after its Wii Virtual Console release, giving it a better score of 8.5 out of 10 and called it a hidden gem. IGN went on to call it a better action RPG than Zelda II: The Adventure of Link and Castlevania II: Simon's Quest. Marcel van Duyn of Nintendo Life gave the game an 8 out of 10, saying that it is a surprisingly fun game and an absolutely essential purchase for those who like RPGs. However, he also criticized the password system for western audiences, but felt grateful the Virtual Console port eliminated that feature.
The November/December 1989 edition of Nintendo Power, Faxanadu debuted on the magazine's "Top 30" list at #6. It gradually fell from the list in subsequent issues.
- ↑ "Faxanadu (NES)". http://www.ign.com/games/faxanadu/nes-7160. Retrieved on 2015-12-31.
- ↑ "Faxanadu". http://www.gamespot.com/faxanadu/reviews/. Retrieved on 2015-12-31.
- ↑ "Faxanadu". http://www.gamespot.com/faxanadu/user-reviews/2200-409947/. Retrieved on 2015-12-31.
- ↑ "Faxanadu Review - IGN". http://ca.ign.com/articles/2011/02/26/faxanadu-review. Retrieved on 2015-12-31.
- ↑ "Review: Faxanadu (Virtual Console / NES)". http://www.nintendolife.com/reviews/2010/11/faxanadu_virtual_console. Retrieved on 2015-12-31.
- Faxanadu - Game Info - GameFAQs. Retrieved July 30, 2005.
- IGN: Faxanadu. Retrieved August 3, 2005.
- MobyGames - Faxanadu (various pages). Retrieved August 3, 2005.
- "Top 30". (November/December 1989). Nintendo Power, p. 81.