Faria (NES)

Faria is a strange little NES RPG. It came out in Japan in 1989 and the US in 1991.  The developer of both versions was Game Arts but the Japanese publisher was Hi-Score Software and the American publisher was Nexsoft (ASCII).  Even in the SNES days, Nintendo Power was posting hints about how to progress in Faria due to some of the confusing later dungeons.

The intro to Faria is pretty impressive for a 1989 game, and the buggy eyes on the old man hints toward the stange world of Faria.

To understand what I mean by confusing, please consider that the first dungeon in Faria is a pretty simple affair.  You push some switches to the side to open locked gates, and then unlock a long passage to the boss.  The first floor of this dungeon has sixty-one rooms with one-way passages and locked doors.  It is a two story dungeon.

The first dungeon is called the Tower of Gelve. This is a sample room from it. Note the Zelda like influences in the walls and the layout.

The battle system in the game is similar to Zelda.  You can shoot arrows or swing a sword, and ignoring the knockback from enemies, it controls pretty well.  Unfortunately, the game is almost unbearably grindy.  While the music isn’t annoying, and the battle system isn’t terrible, the sheer amount of fighting you have to do in the game does get old.

The princess' portrait is clearly not human. Of course, when you meet her, it's obvious that the king is wrong to think that she hasn't changed a bit.

The story feels like it is meant to be lighthearted.  The reward for finding the princess is her hand in marriage – but the king offers to marry your female heroine instead.  He is then shocked when some suspect caviar he purchased from a masked man is poisoned, and asks you to help the townspeople who feasted upon it.  You can also run into a caterpillar in the woods where a voice from the heavens mocks you and tells you that she is not the princess.

Towns in Faria are pretty basic affairs. This is part of the town of Ehdo.

For me, half of the experience of Faria is the music.  The exploring tune is incredibly catchy.  When you add in the surreal world of Faria, you’ve got an interesting experience.  While I don’t like the amount of grinding needed to explore, I do like the experience once you can explore fairly easily.  While I don’t like exploring the dungeons blind, I do find them pretty tolerable with a well done map by my side.  The running mechanic is particularly annoying in the game, since it can involve dropping money, experience, or even items necessary to continue exploring.

Meeting the princess for the first time reveals that she's a lot more humanoid than you might expect.

I’m deliberately avoiding heavy plot spoilers.  Faria does have some interesting plot twists, and I don’t think they’re something that should be spoiled.   While I doubt a lot of modern gamers would want to play the game without using “GaoGao” to give them maxed stats, I do think that the experience might be very different from what they expect in a NES rpg.

This is a shot of the world map in Faria. The building to the north is the castle.

  1. skyrunner14’s avatar

    While this game was published in Japan by Hi Score Software and Nexoft in the US, the game’s developer was none other than Game Arts, who would later go on to make the Lunar and Grandia series. Did you know that?

  2. Rav’s avatar

    I had no idea that the developer was Game Arts.

    I suppose one reason for putting it out under another name was to avoid Nintendo’s rules about the number of games that could be developed by a specific company. That was the reason that we got some pretty dubious games from – if I’m remembering the name correctly, LJN.

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