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Saving the World Tree and the Elves
By Douglas Shepard (Editor in Chief, RarityGuide.com)
Published on 02/1/2009
You play as the unnamed and lost son of the elves returned home to find it in ruins. Can you brave the dangers and save everyone?

System: Nintendo Entertainment System
Title: Faxanadu
Publisher: Hudson Soft
Circa: 1988
Overall Rating:
76 percent

Faxanadu titlescreen

I was going through the secondary area of things I have for the NES and came across this game. Having never played it before, I was curious about how it would play and what it’d be about. While it had some charm, I found it not exactly my cup of tea, even as a person who enjoys a role-playing game, which this kind of is. It’s a side-scrolling platformer more than anything else.

You are a nameless elf returned to the Elf Kingdom only to find it in ruins, attacked by its enemies, the Dwarves. The Fountains are running dry, the World Tree is dying as are the Elves. The King has dispatched a number of men to try to fight the dwarves, but none have ever returned. Immediately at your return to town you are directed to the King, expected.

There are where most of my qualms are honestly. Not that it was a very difficult game to be playing as it was just an odd set-up internally. You start off being able to only equip a dagger to your present armaments. Only by killing things and leveling up can you gain the ability to equip more powerful items, like a long sword or improved armor.
The NPCs do help in directing you a little, giving you the most basic instructions, still, a lot is left up to the player and hopefully they’d be able to get a map of the area to help them along. The Experience system makes no declaration, so leveling up just happens without any notice at all. As well as it doesn’t function on the tradition level system, instead your title changes as you progress and kill more monsters. There is some notable increase in ease over time. Sometimes this isn’t so bad in the early levels, but when it’s all measured progress anyways, it does help to receive something to let you know you’ve gotten a new title. You also were stuck with whatever weapons and armor you bought, no selling it back, as you needed ALL the armor, weapons and magic to be able to wear the ultimate gear in the game. Each of the shop-keepers would only by wares that they sold and nothing else.
While the NES era was famous for accidental mistranslations … Golds? In every instance?
Also, this is one game where a lot of people seemed to smoke ... that was strange to see.
I would consider the manual helpful, as it provides some good hints. It also would help those less familiar with some of the less-common Nintendo layouts.

faxanadu gameplay


Even without the manual I was able to quickly figure out the controls. Nothing out of ordinary for the NES. The jumping could have used some improvement as well as the way items functioned. The important thing to remember is using UP to talk with people and you can end/decline a conversation/service is done by hitting B.

For the Nintendo, these weren’t the best. While it did show when you changed armaments, the character was very blocky in their movement. At least the weapons and armor changed as I upgraded it, which counts a little. The portraits you see while talking with people are nice though.

faxanadu dialogue

Sound Effects & Music
These were also not quite what the NES was capable of pulling off. I found myself wanting to put on music after only a little while as the sound effects never really added anything to the gameplay. The music wasn’t too bad, if somewhat monotonous, it did fit with the game decently. While it didn't have a lot to it, there was enough to fit the various different locations

Definitely a quiet game that slipped onto the system … probably for the better.

Summary/Author’s Take
This game had a chance. It did offer a rare side-scrolling leveling-up experience, but there was enough that weighed against it, I wasn’t terribly compelled to keep at it. The pitfalls for this game got to me before the ending did. Still, it was at least 2 hours of play. If it's a game that would be of interest to you, and I can see that it could appeal to some people, go for it. While using elves it didn't stick to just that mythos. The World Tree was a carefully neutral term, but it does serve a bit of a role in the game.


85 percent

In depth.


71 percent






76 percent

Manual recommended.


70 percent

A little more time would have helped.

SFX and Music

77 percent



65 percent

Decently unknown.


76 percent

Alright game.

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