As much as the original Bard’s Tale fired up my imagination as a kid, I’ve always regretted never completing the game. I’ve tried to remedy this on several occasions over the years, creating several new crews of characters, watching them die horrible deaths–often before they’d taken more than 20 steps from the relative safety of the Adventurer’s Guild. As fun as the game is, it is also pretty frustrating.
I don’t remember exactly how far I’ve ever gotten. Though I have vague memories of my party getting wiped out by the 396 Berserkers, I don’t remember much of anything beyond the sewers from playing it on my Commodore 64 back in the 1980s. And I don’t think I’ve ever gotten to the Catacombs on subsequent attempts.
The new Bard’s Tale Trilogy (which currently just includes BT1, with the other two and a legacy mode coming soon) removes most of the frustration from playing the classic 1985 RPG, as I mentioned last week. It provides a much cleaner, more modern interface with tool tips that doesn’t require you to look things up in the manual constantly (important, since the new manual wasn’t available when I started). The graphics have been updated, which is nice. Some gameplay elements have been smoothed out, retrofitting the original game with features from the later games, smoothing out the XP curves (I think), etc. The game now allows you to save and load anywhere, automaps for you, and provides cures in the temples for some conditions that were incurable in the original release.
It is the last sentence that could be considered the greatest hit to the authenticity of the remake. Much of the difficulty of the original release was based around navigational hazards in the maps (especially teleporters, spinners, and traps), and a really steep “death penalty.” It wasn’t permadeath, as in a roguelike, but it meant sacrificing characters or replaying large chunks of the game over and over. It was “Nintendo hard.” I don’t have time for that these days (and considering the lack of completion, apparently I didn’t back in the day, either). So I welcome the elimination of these “challenges” which to me feels more like filler and padding.
The result? After thirty years, I’ve finally beat Bard’s Tale I. Mangar is defeated. Only half of my party survived the end of the battle, but we took him down! It might not have been exactly the same experience as those who played the older versions, but I’m still chalking this one up to the Victory column.
Now I’m looking forward to Bard’s Tale II!
Original URL: http://rampantgames.com/blog/?p=12105