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Faxanadu is a curious little game to say the least. It's not quite an action-RPG, though it does possess elements of one. It's not entirely a metroidvania either, because you'd don't have any major plot/progress inclination to backtrack; but, you can find some secrets in out of the way places, some of which are necessary to advance the plot. The closest thing you can accurately call it is an action-adventure game, but it really doesn't particularly excel in either of aspect of such. Let's just call it a "pretty decent melting pot of genres and aspects" and move on.
Relation to Xanadu (Dragon Slayer II)Edit
So you might have heard that Faxanadu is a port or variant of the computer-based game "Xanadu". Well, whoever says that is wrong. The best way to describe Faxanadu compared to Xanadu is that it's a spinoff. It's pretty much like Super Mario Land compared to Super Mario Bros 1. Yes, there are some similarities between them, but they're pretty much different games, primarily due to several different factors between the two, such as story, locations, and even gameplay aspects and coding, despite being similar in style. As such, if you play one, you definitely haven't played the other, and there's no "order" you need to play them in either. Curiously, there were still some items, presumed to have similar uses to those in Xanadu that were unused in the release of Faxanadu.
Xanadu (PC-88 version)
Details/Hypothesis on cut content
Editor Note: Perhaps due to the Hudson Soft development, and maybe some influence from Westone, it also resembles the Monster World/Land (Wonder Boy) series in execution. To my knowledge, there's no hard evidence to really support my claim. It's just a simple observation.
Ranks and "Leveling" UpEdit
One of the oddities about raising your Rank (or leveling up in other terms) in Faxanadu is that it doesn't make your stronger or affect your main stats (offense, defense, etc.). At all.
Your respective HP and MP maximum values are always 80. Nothing raises or lowers them.
However! There are three hidden "stats" that are affected by your Rank.
1) The amount of Gold you "begin" with upon resuming/resurrecting in a church being one. Naturally this means if you died or ended playing with less gold than your current rank's "Starting Gold" stat, then you get an increase. On the flip side, if you had more, you lose gold as you revert to your rank's preset wallet amount. This is touched on below.
2) The second hidden stat is "Acceleration" and a rather subtle one that only becomes obvious later on. You walk from a stationary position and this leads into running, which allows you to jump certain gaps you can't merely by jumping mid-walk speed. The amount of time you spend walking is reduced as you Rank up, with higher Ranks allowing you to run (nigh-)instantly (See note below). As you can guess, this is also convenient simply for traveling about.
3) The last and most important hidden stat affected by your rank is "Wing Boots Time" and it is important to be aware of this. As you rank up, the amount of time you can access the power of Wing Boots is REDUCED so be careful when ranking up. Thankfully there are exact numbers of how much time you get per rank, as linked below.
As you can guess, this begs the question: Is raising your rank worth it? It honestly depends on how you play.
Two things to note though are:
1. You only rank up if you visit a Guru
2. Upon dying, you simply return to the last Guru you talked to, at full HP and MP, and with all of your current items and equipment intact; but, all experience that exceeds your Rank's requirements is lost (and your excess gold, naturally). To reiterate: If you died at the Rank of Aspirant with over 1000 experience, your current experience value once again becomes 1000. Even if you had 2200 or more experience you will NOT rank up until a guru grants you a new rank.
This means you can still grind for cash, spend it, go get killed by monsters, and still retain a low rank. This is also addressed in a "trick" below. So, while difficult, it should still be possible to beat the game at ranks Champion to Myrmidon, as most, if not all, areas requiring Wing Boots have footholds/grounds at higher elevations to be able to use another pair should the first run out.
If you are overly cautious about Wing Boot Time, but still wish to have better starting gold and acceleration, then try to only gain enough experience to reach Myrmidon rank and keep it by avoiding combat and by dying (to knock you back to 22000 experience) until the later stretches of the game, where visiting gurus becomes mandatory within the plot (i.e. plot-specific gurus). Check the video below for an easy, if tedious, way to raise your experience point value should you so desire.
Editor Note 1: Regrettably, I have no actual hard numbers as to how much time and/or frames per second spent walking is incrementally reduced per successive Rank up. However, I can say that from a first-hand account it is indeed affected. If anyone could produce exact numbers, it would be appreciated.
Editor Note 2: Should you actually be using passwords, getting a higher rank might happen inadvertently, just because you want to turn the game off. As such, you have to deal with a bit more tedium when considering factors about Ranks versus just reaching a stopping point. Just use your own personal discretion, I'd say. As noted above, it's possible to beat the game at pretty much any rank.
Money in Faxanadu is fairly easy to get, but as noted, there's a few workarounds to get more faster than just grinding your ass off. The easiest, if a bit tedious and somewhat counter-intuitive to your Wing Boot Time preferences, is to just Rank Up at the Guru, and "utilize" (i.e. abuse) your Starting Gold stat by dying and resurrecting constantly. There's literally no real drawback to this other than taking the time to do so. Naturally, you've likely figured out it's better to do so at a higher rank, as your starting gold stat pretty much outweighs any major costs, or at least means you won't have to waste much time grinding for extra cash to make a payment.
Warrior rank at 10000 experience is a pretty even rank that's both easy to reach and nice to stay at early on, as your starting gold stat is 3500, which is enough to buy a single pair of Wing Boots. In addition, it's also enough to buy the Studded Mail at the town of Forepaw (2500 gold), the Long Sword at Forepaw (1600 gold), and a decent amount of change to buy a handful of miscellaneous items such as Red Potions and Keys. Furthermore, your walk-to-run time is shortened enough to be noticeable, and your wing boot time is 30 (which, for a single use, is long enough to make some mistakes when exploring about, while still having about enough left to get where you want to).
Early on, there's a nice, little exploit to take advantage of the elf King's behavior patterns before leaving Eolis (the starting town). You can see it in the labeled video below.
You might wonder if the early shop before Apolune is worth it, selling the Magic Shield (7600 gold) and Death Magic (12500 gold), especially considering you can likely have an easier time buying these later on. I'd personally argue it is, at least for the Magic Shield. I wrote a somewhat "short" guide on how to get them fairly easily, if tediously here.
As you may have figured out, prices increase as you progress along the game.
Though this is an obvious tip, I'd say to only use Hospital visits when you really need it and use repeated servings of the Dried Meat stalls (when available) for your primary healing. This is because Hospital treatments can sometimes be exponentially different compared to meat stalls, when really meat doesn't get that much more pricy over time. On top of that, because the max HP and MP is 80, even just two servings of meat is sufficient, as meat recovers 30 HP and 30 MP each time (regardless of which shop sells it), so despite having 60 recovered of each versus the full 80, you can probably get by just as well.
Also, when you can, try to buy items and keys at their cheapest possible. Just look at the prices of Key J: Eolis/100, Apolune/140, Forepaw/200, Mascon/500. What a fucking ripoff. It isn't always easy (due to some backtracking) or possible (in the case of Eolis), but if you're smart about shopping and buy extras of items ahead of when you'll need them, you should make out easier in the long run.
Items, Magic, Equipment, and Other Miscellaneous NotesEdit
The Strongest Magic?Edit
One thing that you should consider about magic is that you can't restore MP outside of towns save for "dying" with an elixir item on hand and using it as you auto-revive. As a result, you should use the magic that gives you the best damage for the most you can use it. Overall, the best all-around in terms of balancing damage and longevity for both exploring and bosses is agreed to be the Fire Magic.
As for the others, thunder has some pretty weak utility despite being easier to get than both the fire magic and death magic. It's lack of power for its cost being double that of Deluge is pretty bad though, with its best usage being knocking enemies away, which is senseless because it's better to just kill or dodge enemies entirely. Stick with Deluge over it. Death is somewhat handy, despite its high cost. The biggest problem with it besides its slower speed is the fact that some enemies don't take full damage from it due to being "undead" or something. To be a bit more specific, if they look kind of "not alive" (like the Myconid enemy looking kind of like a zombie), then don't waste a Death casting on them. For most other enemies though, death does some nice raw damage if you're good with aiming and timing. If not, stick with Deluge if you don't have Fire. Tilte is obviously very situational. With a mere 5 castings, you're pretty much only going to use it on a boss. As a result, it makes you have to stick with your weapon until then. Some players say it works well on the final boss, Shadow Eura, but at the same time, wouldn't the other magic types (save for Death)? Another thing players noticed about Shadow Eura is that magic seems to damage him anywhere, unlike weapon strikes needing a jump attack. This needs further testing.
So, that's that. Fire's the way to go, Deluge being a close second.
|Name||MP cost (total castings from max MP (80))||Damage Dealt w/o Magic Rod (total damage)||Damage Dealt w/ Magic Rod (total damage)|
|Deluge||2 (40)||6 (240)||9 (360)|
|Thunder||4 (20)||9 (180)||13 (260)|
|Fire||6 (13; with 2 MP left over)||24 (312)||36 (468)|
|Death||10 (8)||34 (272)||51 (408)|
|Tilte||16 (5)||38 (190)||57 (285)|
Also of note is that the manual claims Thunder has 4 times Deluge's power and Fire has 1.5x Deluge's power. As you have seen, it's wrong.
One Last GaspEdit
It may not be immediately obvious, but an enemy dies when its HP goes negative. Meaning it will still be alive and kicking at 0 HP. This also applies for the player character as well, good to know if you can manage to squeeze by with one extra bit of damage taken, but be careful not to underestimate.
"The Pendant makes me weaker!"Edit
This has to do with an odd slip-up in the programming. You essentially have it "in effect" before ever getting it. You can edit the rom file with a patch in this link. Technically this makes the game a tad bit harder before you get the pendant, but not impossibly so. Also, fun fact: the glove's temporary power boost puts you up to an enhanced attack power with or without the pendant, meaning you'll always do more than "normal" damage. Of course, it is only temporary.
Hourglass vs BossesEdit
The Hourglass is a time-freezing item which causes some minor glitches in some parts of the game. It's a beneficial thing though, as using it against the Final Boss prevents him from firing projectiles. This also seems to work on other projectile-firing bosses as well, such as King Grieve's dragon form (There's also an Hour Glass spawn in his dungeon). The Last Town also sells Hour Glasses.
Ointment Protection versus Magic Damage TakenEdit
There seems to be a bug that makes magic still damage you despite being temporarily "invulnerable" due to the Ointment item's effects. Magic damage is only nullified if you do NOT have a Shield equipped. However, if you attack right about the time you get hit (to where your shield is set to the side in the attacking animation), you can still prevent magic damage by getting hit as the game considers you "shieldless" during the damage-dealing animation frames.
Free Full Plate ArmorEdit
Once you reach Victim town, enter the tavern. You can talk with a smoking man, who will change his dialogue based on your rank. At the rank of Soldier (18000 experience) or higher, he will change his dialogue and give you a Full Plate armor which costs 5200 gold normally. However, you can easily buy one at Hero rank, then die and respawn, and have 5200 starting gold. If you've passed Warrior rank, and don't feel like doing the "dying and respawning with gold" ordeal, you might as well go for this, but it's not really necessary, so much as it is a curious convenience. You can see it in video form here.
Sources and Other LinksEdit
I didn't do much making any of this info myself. Most of it comes from other places, so feel free to check them out.
Videos from "gamersgonnaplay" (https://www.youtube.com/user/gamersgonnaplay)
Mattock w/o killing wyvern
Full Plate Armor from tavern owner
Easy and Safe Experience Farming and Ranking up
Getting extra gold from the King
Faxanadu Info and R3 Project
Also, here's some miscellaneous links you might consider looking into.
Xanadu info from HG101 Learn about the original Xanadu and Falcom's other Dragon Slayer games in this somewhat biased article.
Retrogame Oekaki - A few pics of Faxanadu fanart and also an archive of other retro games as well.
Overworld Remix - A ska-styled remix of the Overworld song. I guess if you like this sort of thing. If not, try some others instead.