Kaze no Densetsu Xanadu (風の伝説ザナドゥ)
Released 2/18/1994, published by Falcom
This game is part of the long-running “Dragon Slayer” franchise by Falcom. The title Xanadu first appeared as the second Dragon Slayer game, which CRPG addict did a review of (although he didn’t like it). For a while I thought the PC Engine would be a remake of that game, but it’s actually an entirely new title. Falcom normally did not develop console games, relying on other companies to make ports of their games to various consoles. But here they actually were behind the development, and of the 1995 sequel.
There is a fan translation in progress, but I believe it is stalled for a long time over the voice acting to dub the cutscenes.
It looks and feels like a combination of Legend of Heroes and Ys. The main gameplay is the top-down “run into the enemies” style of Ys, but each chapter ends with a side-scrolling action section that recalls the earlier Dragon Slayer games. This game also carries over from the older Xanadu the system where each weapon and armor has its own experience level. When you get a new weapon or armor it typically starts anywhere from 30-50% power. So if the sword has a max 100 power it might start only at 50. You level up weapons by attacking, but not killing, enemies (so once you start killing enemies in one hit, you can’t level up the weapon on them anymore). You level up shields and armor by taking damage, although eventually enemies in an area won’t be able to harm you anymore.
This system results in a rather comical growth in the numbers — the first weapon has a max power of 12, the strongest weapon has a max power of 598,000. The game also does not have experience levels; you gain HP from resting and from getting hearts from enemies.
The game is divided into 12 chapters, each of which takes place in its own little area usually with a couple of towns and dungeons. This game is well known for having a lot of running back and forth between places talking to people, and it’s not always clear who you are supposed to talk to or why. I definitely think this game benefits from a walkthrough.
The main character is Areios, a knight commander in the kingdom of Ishtar. He begins shipwrecked on a small island. His goal is to get back to the kingdom, but while he’s waiting for the boat he decides to solve a problem happening in the island. Two towns, which produce different kinds of alcohol, are rivals, causing a bunch of problems.
The graphics are somewhat disappointing, but serviceable for the game. The music is good but unfortunately it’s almost all chiptune music instead of the CD-quality music that Falcom used to such good effect in the Ys games. The only voiced sections are the short cutscenes between chapters.
The action scenes are not too bad; the enemies do a lot more damage than the ones in the normal areas, but you get to shoot a wave out of your sword.
If you equip the healing items, you get restored 1000 HP when you get to 0, so that makes the action scenes fairly easy — even if you don’t really figure out the boss patterns you can just sit in front of it and attack and you might use a couple of heal items, but that’s easily replaced.
I’m up to chapter 3 now, so I’ll say more about that in the next update. The story is not bad, and the NPCs and towns are memorable. Overall this is a pretty good game although the fetch quest nature of the gameplay can get somewhat annoying.