Cult games edition 1: Faxanadu
Why hello there. I'm going to post, under the banner of livening up my profile a bit, a few of my old articles regarding cult games. Let me start off by giving you my definition of a cult game. It's a game that a) everybody knows, but only few have actually played; b) a very good game that's only known to and appreciated by a select group of loyal followers; c) a game about a religious sect. We can disregard the latter category for this series of articles, because I've never known such a game, apart from that one time where you could do missions for the Hare Krishna in GTA 2, but let's forget about that.
The game I want to talk about today, Faxanadu, falls into the B category. If you don't know Faxanadu, then let me start off by saying that I pity you, especially if you are into the early Zelda games. Faxanadu was much like Zelda; an RPG released for the NES, possessing over some amusing translation errors among other things, but I'll come back to that later. The main differences were, first and foremost, that the protagonist of Faxanadu, in contrary to Link, was able to jump, and that the game was a side-scrolling game, whereas Zelda (with the exception of Zelda II, but nearly everyone I've talked to thinks that one's crap) was not.
Now Faxanadu is also part of a series, Dragon Slayer, but other games from that series are so obscure and unobtainable that I just won't (be able to) go there.
I still have an original copy of this game, and everytime I find it underneath a pile of cables and connectors, the game nearly forces me to play it; a compulsion I would give in to, if it weren't for the fact that my NES isn't in what you'd call top shape anymore. Still, the catchphrase on the game itself is enthralling: "Daggers and wingboots, mantras and monsters await you."
On a sidenote, I find the inclusion of wingboots in that phrase extremely hilarious in a way. I truly wonder if some person back then thought "hm, this game looks medioc--- wait! Wingboots! I MUST have this now!" Not unlikely if you consider that the word "wingboot" indicates that you can fly, and that flying indicates that there's at least some form of freedom in the game. Compare that to the fact that, back then, games were made to hurt and annoy people, and not to offer them comfort, relaxation, fun, a good time, a relief of stress, or anything that might give you the slightest notion of the game not being extremely hard. That point being made, I still wonder what's so attractive in a game about mantras, but let's just say it's there to create a mysterious and fantastic atmosphere.
That shoved aside, let us move on to the part where we actually put the game into the console, and start playing. The thing that has always annoyed me about this game is that you can't skip the introduction 'cutscene'. Now that wouldn't be much of a problem in itself because intro movies were rare at the time. The problem is, however, that this particular intro movie consists of the protagonist walking towards some kind of castle. Not interesting the first time, let alone the 105th time.
You have now seen the Faxanadu intro movie.
Skipping all the title screens and annoying questions such as "would you like to start a new game?", we find ourselves in a dark town. The music in itself is great (you can look it up on VGMusic if you don't believe me), but it gets even better when you enter the shop. The melody, the happiness, the beat, the golds (keep reading), just everything about this tune is funny. I swear, my cousin and I at least spent an hour in the shop, jumping (with the protagonist) on the beat, by pressing the A-button in a 3/4 musical rhythm scheme (I'm just talking crap now; I never paid attention in music ****. We giggled like schoolgirls and actually played the game just for that purpose. DDR eat your heart out.
Moving on, we meet our first monsters. Now the game is pretty straightforward. You go somewhere, and they say "Oh! Woe is me! I have a problem! Maybe [name] can help me find what I need!" Now, [name] coincidentally lives in the same village, so basically you're playing medieval delivery boy all the time. In the first town, your purpose is to get a weapon. So, logically, you would go to the shop that sells them, and buy a dagger (there it is!). When you do this the first time, however, the shopkeeper speaks the now legendary words "This is not enough golds.", a phrase which in itself turned out to be an underground version of "All your base are belong to us."
Can you see the church and road signs saying "This is not enough golds.", now? Oh, boy!
Naturally, you have to travel to the other part of town, hopping your pleasant way over the first monsters (these guys do end up keeping their promises rather quickly, don't they?), visiting a king, or some other guy who appears to live inside a church of some sort. He gives you golds for being the only hero to be able to save the World Tree in which you apparently reside, and off you go to buy your dagger, and slay your first monster.
The next objective is just plain platforming; jumping on things, stabbing monsters; you know the deal. If you succeeded in not dying (because really, that's what every NES game was about), you'll find yourself in the next town, and the story practically starts all over again, with the only difference being that the weapons and the monsters grow proportionally larger.
I've never beaten this game, not even with my game genie, but it had an overall dark attittude, much like Majora's Mask in the Zelda installment. The whole game had this feeling of "the world's gonna end unless I'm gonna move real quick". In Majora's Mask that time limit consists of the infamous three-day cycle, whereas in Faxanadu it is the time before your NES blows up. Now I hear you thinking about that time in the past where you left your NES on for a week, but truly, is that even an option now? If you trust in being safe whilst a 22-year old electronic device is powered on for an x amount of days, go ahead, but I'll pass.
I don't know if I'll ever beat Faxanadu, as much as I want to. I think that fact alone ****fies it as being a cult game. If someone on these boards has ever beaten it (BEFORE I posted this article, you vultures), I swear I will call you Sir for the rest of the month. Then again, you can't prove that you did, so that's tough luck for you, pansy.
Between you and me, I tried beating this with a Game Genie, because having a cheatless run usually ended me up not getting past the second town. Then again, I did that with nearly all games. It wasn't as dishonest as it may seem now, because, as I mentioned before, NES games were PAIN, and I just did all in my power to stand up to this form of virtual tyranny, just like any honorable superhero would have.
So far for cult games numero uno.
Next up: Hogs of War.
And remember, "next up" is a very loose term.