Title : The Bard's Tale
Publisher : Electronics Arts / FCI
Genre : RPG
Players : 1 Player
Release Date : 1991
Estimated Value (as of today's date) : $5-$10
I'm a nerd. There's not much debate about that. When it comes to video games, the one genre that always seems to quench my DnD-esque thirst are the RPG's. Without a doubt they were the games I played the most of throughout my youth. Dragon Warrior (quest), Final Fantasy, and this little guy right here. This game, called THE BARD's TALE, which was one of the most epic role-playing games of it's generation.
I kid you not. This game was my pride and joy when I was a child. Combining the DnD mentality with an epic dungeon crawl of classic RPG's made this game an instant hint. I must have played through it a dozen times when I was younger, testing my abilities with parties that I didn't even think would stand a chance in the dungeons. I tell no lie when I say I tried to beat this game with parties filled with the same class. It never ended well, but oh was it entertaining.
If luck is on my side, I'll be going back to my old house to see if I can unearth some of the pen and paper maps I designed for this game. They're actually QUITE the necessity. You can get lost in these dungeons, so be prepared.
Also, I figured I'd mention that this game plays a little bit like POOL OF RADIANCE, although HUGELY superior. Trust me on this. But then again, this game would only interest you if you're into heavy RPGs.
Now let's dig right into this game. One of the best, IF not THE best RPG on the NES console. I give you, THE BARD'S TALE.
We start the game in the only safe house you'll encounter ; The Adventurer's Guild in the town of Skara Brae. Here you'll create your party who is tasked with defeating the evil wizard MANGAR THE DARK. What a name, huh? But you can't expect to fight him head on and alone? No, you need to choose your allies and prepare them for the worst.
Choosing party members is done in traditional "dice rolling" character creation formats. Keep rolling a character, until you find a stat distribution you like and keep it. I went with the traditional Warrior, Rogue, Bard Wizard, Sorcerer, Hunter route. Although I never liked the hunter for some reason, which is odd because I typically choose a hunter or a ranger in all my character roles. Stop mocking me...
With my party chosen, I set out on my first quest. You follow the map on the top right, entering doors where they appear. The main objective is to go through various dungeons in the town of Skara Brae, building up your experience, leveling your characters, and acquiring new items and weapons so you're able to destroy the harder enemies.
And trust me, there are some difficult enemies in this game reminiscent of the worst monsters you could imagine from the DnD universe. Of course there are some traditional ones that you'll recognize from ever other RPG. The orc for example.
The battles are traditionally turn based with options such as ATTACK, GUARD, ITEM, CAST(songs, spells), FLEE. It's a typical RPG setup. My only qualm with the battle system is something that irks me in a few games. If you send a bunch of your party members to attack one monster, and it dies, your party member won't attack the next monster. They'll lose their turn. A lot of games did this back in the day, and it pissed me off. I hated wasting a turn. But then again, it does force you to plan out your attack rather than mindlessly mashing attack.
Win a battle, and you are rewarded with gold and experience. Fight enough, and you level up. Basic formula, nothing hard here.
It's hard to tell where you need to go at first, but the trick is to just keep walking around, make yourself a map and talk people to get hints. Once you arrive in dungeons it gets a lot trickier. They aren't straight forward, and some of them have a few puzzles you need to solve in order to complete the dungeon. However, they aren't anything too difficult that'll prevent you from beating the game. Getting around is the hard part.
So if you're the type of person that is into old school RPG's and DnD, then a Bard's Tale is the game for you. It's epic beyond reason, and continues to this day to be one of my favorite RPG's. Classic Tunes, great enemies, great dungeon design, and all this back in the late 80's. It was one of those games that games nowadays look back on to replicate.
And be sure to stop by the bars scattered throughout Skara Brae and have a swig of CANADIAN ROOT BEER. I laugh so hard at this all the time. Slam those root beers down!
Final Score (out of 5) :
Until next time. Keep on gaming!