The Bard’s Tale and I

There have been a lot of exciting kickstarters lately. Yooka-Laylee and Bloodstained are the biggest ones.  The one I’m most excited about is inXile’s The Bard’s Tale IV. Having already done the well-received Wasteland 2, they’ve moved on to remake this classic game as well..

Anyone who has grown up with videogames can usually quote videogames of their childhood. Almost everyone names Mario and Zelda and the whole Nintendo family. For me, it was The Bard’s Tale.

Bards_Tale-2

 

I had much more limited access to video games growing up. For some reason, possibly explained by my mental illnesses, I would get overstimulated when exposed to too much tv or computer games, and was limited to a hour of TV a day as well as 15 minutes on the computer. The Gameboy family was allowed on vacations and doctor office’s. And that was it. Additionally, the computer was in a public area. This continued until about middle school.

Sometime around 2nd or 3rd game I got a computer in my own room, mainly for doing schoolwork on. It has no internet access, but it could play dos games. We had a collection of old interplay games. Most of them didn’t work properly, or I couldn’t figure out how to play, but I loved The Bard’s Tale.

I was first introduced to The Bard’s Tale through my mom. She’d play, and I’d watch her die horribly. That’s how this game started out if you didn’t know how to play–and even if you did. The player would walk around Skara Brae kicking down doors to houses and finding encounters, where the encounter could be anything from extremely easy to extremely difficult. There was an option to run, but it didn’t always work, and sometimes there was no escape. It helped to save often and to know how to build characters. Characters would die a lot until the player finally got a stable team. Getting started was the hardest part. The player would work their way up to a higher level, to the point where they could explore the whole town, and eventually make their way into the first dungeon.

I just thought this game was the coolest thing with it’s dated graphics and hard gameplay. When I started playing, I obviously had no idea what I was doing. I, at first, put great care into crafting my party, naming the characters and making them cool classes and everything. This was adorable. When your character is level 1, unless they get extremely lucky, someone is going die in the first round of combat, and the player won’t have the gold to resurrect him. Two floppies of dead characters later, I actually had learned through trial and error how to build my characters, and had a party of all sorts of weirdly named characters as I desperately scraping the bottom of the barrel for names. I named characters in my party after pokemon, kids in my Sunday School class and Darth Vader. I did make my way to the first dungeon. I thought this was quite an accomplishment, although The Bard’s Tale is mostly just grinding and grinding rather then skill.

I never got past the first dungeon. I didn’t understand how to draw a map, and without doing that, the game came to a crashing halt. I wandered lost in the dungeon, and although I could always find my way out, I never progressed. I got frustrated and gave up. I’ve never revisited the game, partially because of having to go through dosbox, partially because I know it wouldn’t be the same. I always looked back fondly on my memories playing.

So to say this project is a bit personal is an understatement. I feel like this remake is a chance to get that magic back. I was incredibly impressed with Wasteland 2, so I know they can do a good job, and the recent in-engine video they posted has me extremely hopeful. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted in a new Bard’s Tale. I backed it at the level to get access to the Alpha, hoping I have my gaming pc by then, and really looking forward to that and what comes after. One thing I’m really hoping they include in The Bard’s Tale IV is the option that was in Wasteland 2 to put your own portraits into the game. Then Darth Vader can really be Darth Vader!

The game isn’t due for release until October 2017, barring any delays, but luckily there’s games out right now that feel very similar to The Bard’s Tale…but much better then orginal Bard’s Tale. There’s Etrian Odyssey, a series that I highly recommend, which is a lot like The Bard’s Tale with mapping dungeons which is done manually on the DS and even more complicated combat. Be warned, this game series is hard as nails, and even more troublesome, has very moe character designs. For that series, I recommend hoping on with Etrian Odssey IV or Etrian Odssey Untold.

There is also Darkest Dungeon, a series that feels similar to The Bard’s Tale in terms of playstyle, although it’s third person turn based combat instead of first, and the mapping is done for you, but there is mulching through characters and it has that rougelike rpg feel..

To end this post, I’m going to leave a link to the kickstarter for The Bards Tale IV. I’m sure it’s going to get funded, with most of it’s goal met, and 33 days to go. However, they have a nice Eary Bard tier which allows you to get the game for $25.

For anyone looking for more The Bard’s Tale, this is a let’s play of the first game. This is a great way to get an idea of how quickly characters die in this game.

http://lparchive.org/The-Bards-Tale-NES/

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