Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bard's Tale III: Brief Break

Switching to the chronomancer class.

Yikes! I take two days off and I have something like 50 postings to reply to. I'll work on that a bit this afternoon.

I am going to keep going with The Bard's Tale III, based partly on your comments that it improves, and partly because my win/give-up ratio hasn't been looking so good lately. But unfortunately, I'm spending the week in Kansas City and I forgot to copy the save game from my old laptop to my new one (which I have with me) before I left. So to the extent that I get any playing time this week, my next post will be on BattleTech. I'll resume with BT3 next weekend.

In the meantime, anyone know who this guy is? Was he in The Bard's Tale II? I encountered him when I stepped into Arboria, the first alternate dimension.

Later edit: The "brief break" ultimately stretched on so long that I forgot what I was even doing in the game. I've kicked Bard's Tale III lower on the 1988 list and I'll basically start over with it after I get through 8 or 10 other games.

Much later edit: It was over a year before I got back to it. Here is the next posting.


  1. No he's not part of BT2. You're supposed to feel confused.

  2. Ah. Some kind of time-travel thing, then. Well, that gives me something to look forward to when I get back to it. Thanks!

  3. actually, bt3 is all about time travel....

  4. That second screenshot is kinda interesting. I wonder why the ' symbol has so much white space around it when the rest of the text in the game uses a variable width font..

  5. Read up a bit online about this game and learnt about a serious bug in the C64 version which meant that you only got a fraction of the 20 levels of experience for killing Brilhasti if you visited the review board with a wandering monster in your party - explains why I didn't remember the 20 levels of experience and why I found Arboria so tough - My party was probably about 19 levels lower than they should have been!

  6. I was bitten by that bug in the c64 version too! It's a pretty horrible glitch. Think about it: (a) you're missing out on one of the biggest quest rewards OF ALL TIME, and (b) you can get your game permanently into that glitched state many, many hours before killing Brilhasti - even having saved games backed up is small consolation if the last "good" save is 5 hours of grinding back!

  7. Crpgaddict, just a small note regarding one of the games in your "upcoming" list: Eamon (1988) itself isn't a game, but rather a game-making engine (textual rpgs with a rather rudimental parser) - therefore, "playing" it would mean playing all the 265 or something adventures made with it (there are many hidden gems among them, but most are mediocre at best). So I guess you should either skip it completely or play just some of the best adventures.

  8. If I recall correctly, the DOS collection is just the first couple Eamon levels. There isn't really a need to play any other ones.

    Now, the date I'm pretty sure is wrong; it was originally an Apple II game. 1979 or so?

  9. Actually, there IS a reason to play some of the other ones. Mainly because the first ones (those that come with Eamon) suck, whereas others are very good (particularly stuff such as Buccaneer, which is almost Pirates! in text format).

    And yes, the original version came out in Apple II and is way older than 1988.

  10. What I mean is I'm pretty sure there's no way to play the other modules in DOS, and this is a PC-only project.

    The most recent Eamon game (Leadlight) came out last year for the Interactive Fiction Competition.

  11. Actually, some of them (no idea of how many) have been converted to MS-DOS (you can find them in the Eamon Adventurer's Guild) and then there's always Eamon Deluxe - I don't know, however, if EamonDX is a direct port to PC of the engine or just other remakes of some adventures.

    Anyway, Crpgaddict, if you were to play just the few first adventures, I'd suggest to skip it completely because they really aren't that much of a game - IIRC they're extremely short (15-20 mins of gameplay) and they suck badly.

  12. Hope you get back to blogging soon. I have very much missed your articles this week.

    By the way, would you be willing to play a MSX (I'm not really sure) port of Final Fantasy 3? I started playing a fan translated (the NES version never made it outside of Japan) rom just last Saturday. It's not philosophically or narratively groundbreaking as far as I can tell, but the game world design with all it's treasure, hidden passages, little optional quests, and mythology that empowers your PCs to become any kind of heroes they want to be at will just put me in a feel-good state (plus, not overly grindy).

    If you do decide to play Final Fantasy 3, is the feeling mutual?

  13. Yeah, sorry Giauz, everyone. Work and travel have been killing me this week. A couple more days and I should be back into it.

  14. Tell you what, Giauz, send me the link and I'll evaluate when I get to 1990.

  15. I must admit, my love of the Bard’s Tale games is largely nostalgic. However, I think you will also find a correlation between Bard’s Tale fans and people who played them on a C64. As mentioned, the C64 version shows an icon to represent your bard song. Also, the 4-letter spell code input is still there (those pull down menus are just stupid!) I’m not sure if the lack of Harmonic Gems is a DOS problem or something else (I remember finding at least one every other encounter). That said, your main complaint still holds true. There is a serious problem in BT3 with leveling and the ramping of difficulty.

    My idea of a good game is one where you start off just struggling to survive. Then your character or party gradually improves until you have a brief time where you feel superpowerful before, hopefully, being challenged once again by the big baddie(s) at the end. When I first played BT3, I started with a fresh party because I wanted to experience that initial struggle again. Instead of a welcome challenge I was faced with frustration and rather than trying to level up my characters (my biggest pet peeve of CRPGs) I decided to just transfer my party from BT2. This unfortunately had the opposite effect and the game then became too easy. You know there’s a problem when you find yourself running from every single encounter simply out of boredom.

    Despite coming back to it several times over the years, I never did finish the game. I agree with what other people have said, that it improves after the starter dungeon, but not much. While there are a few neat puzzles and such, you still have to deal with endless nonsensical combat. You may want to come back to this one just to finish Arboria, but I doubt it will change your mind about the game. On the other hand, try not to let this experience affect your opinion of Dragon Wars which is a much better game.

  16. Thanks for the perspective, Keir. I agree with you on your "idea of a good game." I love the beginnings of games like Baldur's Gate when you're just starting out, and finding your first two-handed sword, and every level up is a cause for celebration.

  17. I think the reason this series is remembered fondly has more to do with people, like myself, who played BT1 when it came out and falling in love with how good it was for its time.

    The sequels, like many movies, failed to live up to the general feel of something great that the original had at the time. Instead, again like many movie sequels, they were more of the same old thing on a bigger scale without much in the way of original or well done content. I did end up buying all the games when they came out but, after playing every one I had to ask myself one important question that everyone should ask for any sequel, be it movie, game, book, or second date.

    If this was the first entry into the series would I like it enough to care about a sequel?

    For BT2 and BT3 the answer was no I would not. I may yet go back and give dragon wars a chance but we will see.

  18. Addict, it seems both the Amiga and DOS versions suffere from the same bugs: monsters' special attacks not working and bosses not fighting back:

    And as discussed above, the C64 version is also buggy, which leads only the Apple II version left if you want a bug free Bard's Tale III.

  19. I got to the last dungeon (the one where you fight Tarjan) and my save party disk got corrupted. Most disappointed! It was also the closest I got to completing any of the Bards Tale series. I am playing through BT2 now though.


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