8-bit adventuring in the old Nintendo land..

I present two pieces of vintage digital art, from an aged, underrated Nintendo video game. 

Faxanadu, for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Released in 1987 in Japan, 1989 in North America, and released recently for the Nintendo Wii Virtual Console.

The is the end, after completing the game. You have restored nature and beauty to your hometown and surroundings.

"Daggers and wingboots, mantras and monsters await you" - Faxanadu game box box cover tagline

This is in contrast, to its beginning.. See, one person can really make a difference!

Faxanadu opening

This was an excellent game, of which I and many others enjoyed. The game was developed and imported/translated from Japan by Hudson Soft, a third-party company known, for being lesser known. This game was often found in discount bins later on, which got my attention. I was a sucker for action games with role-playing elements. But wow! I loved the look, the gameplay, the music. The story, not so much. It was simple, but enough to keep me going. I felt the visuals told their own story through progression.

Here are some further notes on the two shots, and the game itself:

  • In both shots, our unnamed protagonist walks alone on the road. In the ending, he walks away from the castle. In the beginning, he walks towards the castle. Both acts, done in an odd shuffling, crudely animated fashion.
  • Most of the game is up and through that gigantic tree in the background. It’s the World Tree. The huge tree is home to many townsfolk and evil monsters. This is fantasy of the best kind, where one must expand their imagination to accept the unbelievable.
  • Like most games of that era, Faxanadu had a very fixed color palette. Only 64 (56 unique) colors were possible, and on-screen only 25 could be used. Such limitations led to some brilliant thinking on selection and style. For Faxanadu, we have tones of browns, greens, tans, blue, etc, perfect for setting the tone of this great game. 
  • Pixellation is beautiful, when done right.  It takes skill to produce more from less, especially in complex settings like this.
  • I can not find the game artist for this. There are no credits in the ending (the usual place) for the game, unfitting for this epic game. I found nothing on the Internet. Hopefully, I will get back to this someday with an update.

Here is the text from the back of the game packaging:

“You are the elves’ last hope. Outside the town walls lurk monsters with the power to destroy anything in their path. Inside the walls, water and time are running out. Soon the ancient elf town of Eolis will vanish into eternity. Only you can save Eolis. No one else dares to venture beyond the walls, onto the World Tree, where towns and fortresses precariously await the whims of fate at the hands of the Evil. You are searching for the water source and for an antidote to the poison that makes the water undrinkable. To find them you’ll need gold and food and magic, speed with a sword… and luck. Every town holds a new mystery, every fortress a new danger. Merchants will sell you magic and valuable tools, but it’s up to you to figure out what you need. Long, secret mantras help you slip through the mists, but will you survive the next challenge? This is Faxanadu, the legend, the adventure – the incredible journey on the World Tree!”

Sometimes, I like to think my day is this exciting.

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