|
Your donations keep RPGWatch running!
RPGWatch Forums » Games » General RPG » The Nostalgia Files: The Bard's Tale series; a personal timeline.

Default The Nostalgia Files: The Bard's Tale series; a personal timeline.

January 25th, 2015, 16:51
Greetings Watchers, Bard's Tale fans and casual readers alike.

In light of the recent fantastic announcement that Bard's Tale IV is to be made by Brian Fargo and Co. @ InXile, I decided to post something of a condensed historical reflection of my time playing this great ol' trilogy. I also posted this in an edited form to another forum that I'm a member of, Lemon64 some time ago.

Originally I was inspired somewhat by Aubrielle's feature piece on Baldur's Gate to do something similar, yet as I began to edit more material, gradually found that I wanted to focus more on personal experience rather than look to the world at large or attempt any kind of contextual analysis.

Hence, my own experience of completing the Bard's Tale Trilogy can be condensed in a timeline thusly:

1989:
I obtain Bard's Tale III from a friend in Primary School for the Commodore 64 in grade 5. I remember being so enthralled by the introduction https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RA4c-xwt0A and spent much time designing my party, trying to get the balance of races and classes right. It was all so captivating, from the music to the story-telling poetry and the atmosphere of the world. I start with a newly made party, scoffing at the default Interplayers party. I barely make it past level two in the catacombs after a few months of slugging it out and give up for a long time! Moved on to Curse of the Azure Bonds instead….

Early 1993:
I meet a new friend who loves the series, which invigorates my interest in all tales Bardic. He gives me original disks for Bard's Tale II: The Destiny Knight to keep, which I start to play. I get a fair way through the initial starter dungeon, loving the early development survival phase, yet by about two months, get bogged down in the mysteriousness of it all. Moved on to Champions of Krynn instead…

Late '93:
I become nostalgic and get out Bard's Tale III again. Play with my old party, making a slight adjustment by nicking Greenbolt from the Interplayers. I play obsessively until I conquered Brilhasti Ap Tarj and his Unterbrae and finally are ready for chronomancy. Me and my mate Shane help each other with the puzzles and dungeons resulting from each of the dimensions. I remember calling him nearly every night for a week to share my latest discoveries. I complete one dimension after the other in a daze of c64 gaming, causing much anger from my mother. ("Get off that berlooody 'puter!") Arboria, Gelidia, Lucencia…I get slightly stuck on Tarmitia and wait for my mate to catch up. With his help, I finally make it into Malefia. Become overwhelmed at the huge dungeon which faces me. Suddenly stop playing….!

1994:
I learn my mate is moving to another school. He gives me his original Bard's Tale I disks as a quasi-farewell gesture. (Thanks Shane!) I begin playing it seriously with a new party, making my own map of Skara Brae and several of the early dungeons. By the Summer of 95, have all but conquered it up to Kylearan's Tower. Because of the slow difficult nature of this dungeon though, it was very tough for me.
I remember my party being stuck in the stasis chamber and turning the C64 off in a fit of rage, and not touching the game for ages. I later on stumble across the clue book for BT III which made me start to explore Malefia in detail, aswell….

1997:
First year of uni and I meet another Bard's Tale fan who helps reignite the bardic call to adventure again. We make a pact between us to 'complete the bard's tale trilogy'. It becomes a friendly competition. By the end of the year, he was leading easily, having handily dispatched Mangar. I followed suit after finally getting past Kylearan's tower and eventually beating the illustrious Mangar as well. That was an immense feeling of satisfaction. And so we both moved on to Bard's Tale II.

1998:
I transferred half of my party that won Bard's Tale I into the Destiny Knight and mixed it with my semi-old experienced party from way back in 93.
It was a good mix and despite the dire complex obscurities of the dreaded death snares, with the assistance of my mate's great maps (mine were often too illegible and cryptic (i.e messy)!) I scraped through the game. I remember long bouts of playing listening to Queen and Black Sabbath's early albums on vinyl as background music. But, my mate beat me again by a good few weeks or so! Thus, it was back to Bard's Tale III I went….

1999 - 2000:
I didn't transfer any characters from BT II-III, choosing to use my original party that I'd played with all those years ago. I had somewhat of a head start on my friend, since he had never played it as much as I had previously. The sense of accomplishment of finishing Bard's Tale III has me at a loss for words. I'd finally discovered why the Thief was so fateful. It was a life-altering, exhausting RPG experience as far as games go, on a par with some of the great Ultima's, which I only got to play much later on.

Finishing the Thief of Fate with a self-made party can be done without transferring, it just takes more dedication, random encounters, wandering the Unterbrae, repeatedly killing Brilhasti. I did it, even though it took me so long to do so. Obviously an already potent party made from the previous games can head all the more faster towards the initial goal of creating a chronomancer…

Ahh, the Rhyme of Duotime calls me even now! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gff7Q5R7nvM

To conclude, here are a few choice quotes from the Bard's Tale IV petition:

- An Odyssey of Homeric proportions! - Paul

- With updated graphics, but a similar interface, this would certainly fill a void in modern gaming. Let the tale continue! - Paul

- No game since Bard's Tale II has had me so enraptured in its clever mix of action, cunning, and intrigue. - Adam.

Long live the greatest RPG that spurred computer gaming and imagination. Wizardry showed us the path, but Bard's Tale painted the scenery. The Bard's song soothes the soul, cultivates camaraderie, and animates the adventure. - Kirk

The dungeon crawling, the fun mapping, the wonderment of whether my party was strong enough for the next dungeon, the odd clues, the almost ethereal magic mouths and riddles. I want more! - Rob

- I'm still in the tavern drinking, over-tipping the bartender, tripping over the barmaid, and praying for more adventures…. - Rich

As in my review for FelipePepe, I'd just like to extend my thoughts to my good ol' adventuring buddy Shane McConnell, who I have not seen or spoken to now for at least 12 years. Hopefully all is well in his little bardic kingdom and that we'll get to raise a tankard in person again one day.

So what can you recall of your own first moments playing Bard's Tale? What format did you play it on? Feel free to add your own story to the mix.

Cheers,
Pessimeister

Diddledy high,
Diddledy low,
Come brave blood sheep,
You've a goodly way to go.
- Brilhasti Ap Tarj
Pessimeister is offline

Pessimeister

Pessimeister's Avatar
Living Backwards

#1

Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Australia
Posts: 1,070

Default 

January 25th, 2015, 17:02
My experiences I would have to say none as I was barely four years old when the first Bards Tale game was released, and didn't own a PC in the 80's only consoles.

If I remember at that time it was the Nintendo, and Sega Genesis systems.

Fast forward through the years I finally got an expensive PC as a birthday gift form my family. The first CRPG games I played were Baldur's Gate , and Fallout.

Probably why I never understand the appeal of these games. I have tried to play them but I never finished them. I may have to try again now that Bards Tale 4 was announced.

"I Am a Proud BioWare Fanboy, and Have Been One for Fifteen Years."

Paypal Donation Link

RPGWatch
Senior News Editor & Moderator
Last edited by Couchpotato; February 24th, 2015 at 08:56.
Couchpotato is offline

Couchpotato

Couchpotato's Avatar
The Overworked Potato
RPGWatch Team

#2

Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Potato Land
Posts: 12,475

Default 

January 25th, 2015, 17:33
I enjoyed Bard's Tale 1 & 2 on my Amiga 2000 system in 1988. Great memories.

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. - HL Mencken
HiddenX is online now

HiddenX

HiddenX's Avatar
The Elder Spy
RPGWatch Donor

#3

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: NRW/Germany
Posts: 4,876

Default 

January 25th, 2015, 18:09
That's a bit closer to the release dates than I played them HiddenX. (85-88)
It would have been nice on the Amiga, that's for sure. Care to elaborate a bit more? Did you transfer your party for instance? Still have any of the maps you would have made from back then?

As an addendum, I should add that I did try to start a replay of the first game on PC in around 2001 or so in the interests of seeing the differences in the conversions. I didn't get too far though with that idea - only made it to Harkyn's Castle.

Diddledy high,
Diddledy low,
Come brave blood sheep,
You've a goodly way to go.
- Brilhasti Ap Tarj
Pessimeister is offline

Pessimeister

Pessimeister's Avatar
Living Backwards

#4

Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Australia
Posts: 1,070

Default 

January 25th, 2015, 19:46
Woah, that was all so long ago… my memories are hazy

I remember that I played BT 3 at the C 64, the graphics were great, but the loading times… I also remember that I had to fight every second step whole armies of mobs

I got a Copy of BT 2 on the amiga, and once again I loved the graphics. I remember to cast domination spells on tons of monsters and saved them on the character disc. I.E. Dragons would often use their breath attack, and could seriously relieve the casters this way.

I bought BT 3 a second time for the Amiga when I got may hands on the Amiga-Version - Boy was I disappointed - it looked worse then the C 64 Version IMO.

BT 1 I got very late in a compilation. Played it a bit, but I couldn't get into the gameplay again.

I remember that I had a folder full of drawn maps; I got pretty far in every game (except BT 1), but I never finished any of the games - a fate that they shared with the ultima games, I blame my lacking english skillz as a Kid; when I tried to play the games years later, I couldn't stand the gameplay anymore

The Germans are a cruel race. Their operas last for six hours and they have no word for "fluffy".

Captain Blackadder
Fenris is offline

Fenris

Fenris's Avatar
Proto-Nerd

#5

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Franconia
Posts: 459

Default 

January 25th, 2015, 20:17
I have still the maps for Bards Tale 2 somewhere. I never transferred the party. And yes the graphics were awesome. I had a C64 before (I still own it!) and I liked C64 games, but the Amiga was in a league of it's own. No other computer was better for games in the second half of the 80s.

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. - HL Mencken
HiddenX is online now

HiddenX

HiddenX's Avatar
The Elder Spy
RPGWatch Donor

#6

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: NRW/Germany
Posts: 4,876

Default 

January 26th, 2015, 17:12
I played the first BT on the C64 when it came out. My memory is pretty hazy, but I do remember sitting in my room at night glued to the screen. Although, I don't think I ever played any of the others in the series after that. I was also playing the Ultima games and those really captured my imagination and time.

But I should fire it up again. Thanks to GOG, I've got it sitting on my laptop but have just never gotten around to taking another look all these years later.
Jahmis is offline

Jahmis

Jahmis's Avatar
Traveler

#7

Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Seattle
Posts: 15

Default 

January 26th, 2015, 17:29
(off topic)

The Amiga was so far ahead of its time that it took half a decade for another computer to come close. It is very sad that Commodore sucked at marketing. They could have dominated the market with a savvy guy. Remember, the C64 had the ability to play games from cartridge and could use a TV as a monitor. If they would have challenged the NES and then put a cartridge-TV interface on the Amiga they might be leading in both the console and pc markets today. The amiga had comparable graphics to a PS1.

'nut
crpgnut is offline

crpgnut

crpgnut's Avatar
Fantasy Novel Archmage
RPGWatch Donor

#8

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: St. Louis, Mo USA
Posts: 4,198

Default 

January 27th, 2015, 13:11
As a bit of a C64 enthusiast, I'm well aware of those issues, thanks for the nugget though 'nut. Indeed, if anyone has a passing interest in a history of the company, I can heartily recommend the second edition of Brian Bagnall's "Commodore: A Company on the Edge". http://www.bookdepository.com/Commod…/9780973864960

I believe the author was working on a sequel of sorts which focuses upon the Amiga story but the project has been temporarily shelved last I read.

As far as experiences of the Amiga go, a friend kindly donated a couple of A500's to me a few years ago so I did finally get some degree of insight into what it was like. I played Dungeon Master for the longest period of time on it actually until the mouse I had packed it in.

However, I do feel that SID chip in the C64 has more character and I love its sound a little more than the Amiga's. Nostalgically, I naturally lean more towards it as well having practically grown up with the system and used it all through primary school.

Thanks for the Bard's Tale stories Jahmis and Fenris. Keep 'em coming people!

One lesser known fact is that on some platforms you could transfer characters from Wizardry and Ultima III to Bard's Tale, something which must have been quite revolutionary. The C64 version of BT3 allows transfer from BT1, BT2, Ultima III+IV and Wizardry 1-3. I never did get to try this though, as I only really sampled Ultima V for the C64 and the Wizardry series was relatively unknown and harder to obtain for me at the time.

I'll sign off this post with another bard song for you all. - Sir Robin's Tune. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcQEx3DLBwg. Cheers!

Diddledy high,
Diddledy low,
Come brave blood sheep,
You've a goodly way to go.
- Brilhasti Ap Tarj
Last edited by Pessimeister; January 27th, 2015 at 16:40.
Pessimeister is offline

Pessimeister

Pessimeister's Avatar
Living Backwards

#9

Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Australia
Posts: 1,070

Default 

February 3rd, 2015, 00:23
So I fired up the original BT, quickly made a party, entered the city and was attacked by a roving band of mercenaries within a minute of wandering around a bit. They killed one of my guys so I booked it out of there. Then I was immediately attacked by another roving band, of goblins this time. After that first encounter I just ran away.

I don't remember BT being so brutal. Of course, I don't remember much of it at all since it was so long ago.
Jahmis is offline

Jahmis

Jahmis's Avatar
Traveler

#10

Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Seattle
Posts: 15

Default 

February 11th, 2015, 07:28
The IBM version of BT3 has a bug where when you beat Brilhasti the first time you get a huge amount of XP, enough to take a level 1 monk to a level where he hits for around 2,000 damage (level 40ish from memory but it was about 5 years I played the PC version). That is how I finished BT3. I played it when it originally came out on c64 and only got to the second world (the frozen one).

Favourite RPGs of all time: Wizardry 6, Ultima 7/7.2, Fallout2, Planescape Torment, Baldurs Gate 2+TOB, Jagged Alliance 2, Ravenloft: The stone prophet, Gothic 2, Realms of Arkania:Blade of destiny (not the HD version!!) and Secret of the Silver Blades.
bjon045 is offline

bjon045

bjon045's Avatar
Keeper of the Watch

#11

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Sigil
Posts: 1,028

Default 

February 14th, 2015, 04:44
I remember my first attempt at a Bard's Tale game was on the C64 with BT3. It was a HUGE let-down after playing Dragon Wars (which some say was the real Bard's Tale IV) so I never tried another entry in the series. I found the aforementioned DW and the SSI Gold Box games to be far far more enjoyable.
JackOfOwls is offline

JackOfOwls

Watcher

#12

Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 25

Default 

February 24th, 2015, 01:18
This was a good story Pessimister.

I played the trillogy on an apple 2c….I bough them each when they came out….I will never forget how much trouble I had finding the first dungeon in bards tale…until my mom mentioned the hint in the manual about wine that goes down.

If you don't stand behind your troops, feel free to stand in front.
rune_74 is offline

rune_74

SasqWatch

#13

Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 3,329

Default 

February 24th, 2015, 08:36
What's so weird for me is that my gaming experiences also started in the 80s but I was in my twenties not a pre-teen. All you toddlers were playing the same games as me as a young man. And now look at us. Age wise, you've all caught up to me and we're still playing the same games . . . . The cosmic commonality makes brother and sisters of us all.

As far as Bard's Tale. It was like a breath of fresh air compared to the Wizardry games that I was so enthralled with at the time. The early Wizardrys were like one step removed from a Pen an Paper RPG. The Bard's Tales seemed more like a game designed primarily for a computer. And to me they seemed way more fun. My Bards games were played with the Apple 2. Easy to run but no-where close to the graphic capabilities of the Amiga.

While I loved the games, the thing that bugged me about them was that they really weren't about a Bard. The main character was still your fighter or your mage. And when I first started playing the games I thought they were going to have a different type of main (within-party) protagonist. IIRC, the bards powers were kinda underwhelming at first.
Dajjer is offline

Dajjer

Dajjer's Avatar
Keeper of the Watch

#14

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Los Angeles area
Posts: 1,212

Default 

February 25th, 2015, 03:49
Bard's Tale was my very first game on my Amiga back in 1988, so it has a special place in my heart. I remember being very impressed indeed by the graphics and the monks' chanting in the temple blew me away.
Best memory from BT1 was my invincible group of adventurers returning to Skara Brae from an epic battle against 396 Berserkers. Heading for the Review Board they kicked in the wrong door and "met death itself in the form of 1 Hobbit"!

I imported my characters into BT2, but I found it too easy so I abandoned it halfway through, and restarted it with fresh characters. The beginner dungeon was actually brilliant, and one of the best dungeons in the whole series.
Best memories: spell binding "bosses" like Fansker and Oscon and having them as party members. Oscon especially was useful.

BT3 was a huge disappointment to me, since it was a straight port of the DOS version with worse graphics than the previous games. But what killed the game for me was the bugs - none of the monsters had any special attacks! The beginner dungeon was also very boring, making the game very tedious and bland compared to the two previous ones, and I abandoned it shortly after traveling to the first dimension.

Today I find BT1-2 all but unplayable due to the insane random encounters rate, which is checked in real time. So these game have aged worse than nearly all contemporary CRPGs (yes, I've played most of them too in recent years, so I'm not speaking from nostalgia).

BT3 I finally completed a few months ago, thanks to the unofficial patch made by a guy over at the German BT forums calling himself "drifting". I think the very last bugs were finally squashed with my playthrough, as he kept patching as I found new bugs.
Playing BT3 was less frustrating than replaying BT1-2, since encounters are no longer checked in real time. Still they are too frequent, and I regret not running away much more often, 'cause BT3 is actually too easy if you harvest all the XP from random encounters. Even the final battles were trivial.
The hardest part of the game was actually the two lowest levels of the beginner dungeon!
Last edited by PetrusOctavianus; February 25th, 2015 at 04:08.
PetrusOctavianus is offline

PetrusOctavianus

PetrusOctavianus's Avatar
Retro Gamer

#15

Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Bjørgvin
Posts: 86

Default 

February 25th, 2015, 13:21
Originally Posted by PetrusOctavianus View Post
Best memory from BT1 was my invincible group of adventurers returning to Skara Brae from an epic battle against 396 Berserkers. Heading for the Review Board they kicked in the wrong door and "met death itself in the form of 1 Hobbit"!
Brilliant! Great story Petrus, thanks for sharing. I must admit that I abused that infamous 99x3 Beserker fight a little for leveling purposes, but I'm sure many of us did after it was first discovered. I do distinctly recall my jaw dropping upon that first encounter at any rate.

Good to see some more stories coming in, *nods at Dajjer, Jack, Bjon, Rune.* keep 'em coming chaps.

Brian's gone quiet with the BT4 news and nothing new yet from BurgerBecky's potential kickstarter. I'm sure however, more information isn't too far away.

Diddledy high,
Diddledy low,
Come brave blood sheep,
You've a goodly way to go.
- Brilhasti Ap Tarj
Pessimeister is offline

Pessimeister

Pessimeister's Avatar
Living Backwards

#16

Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Australia
Posts: 1,070
RPGWatch Forums » Games » General RPG » The Nostalgia Files: The Bard's Tale series; a personal timeline.
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT +2. The time now is 20:58.
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright by RPGWatch