Bard's Tale, The - Tales of the Unknown (USA) ROM
Nintendo Entertainment System / NES ROMs
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Game Description & Reviews:
This is a tough one.
Controls were perfect and responsive but the game suffered from irritating menus and resetting cursors. Inventory and money management was painful but, iirc, it remains this way in many DnD-like RPGs until well into the PS1 age.
Sound was great as one might expect from a title with the word 'Bard' in it. There was a noticably large score of music and they all worked well in their scenarios. Playing a song to lessen encounters was softer and melodic while a battle-enhancing tune ramped up the energy and tempo. Menus offered satisfying bleeps and bloops in non-defeaning tones. The only sound I wasn't fond of was the healer sound but that's likely because it reminded me of Dragon Quest.
Graphics aged relatively well. With large, crisp, standard font (thank you so much), defined play/menu/character spaces, a pleasing black background, and both an overview and first person angle at all times the main aspects of the screen were top notch. Monsters and NPCs were recognizable and moderately detailed with only one or two looking ridiculous in pink and whatnot.
It's fantastic in that it's the perfect DnD-like RPG with first person and paced movement, a focus on map making, and a somewhat fleshed out story. Not too much, not too little in every department...except leveling. The grind is real, ya'll. Naturally you'll get to about 26-30, if you're really exploring and not using pre-made maps, during your adventures. Sadly, the game practically requires that you reach the maximum level of 36 to finish the game adding 10-12 more hours of grinding onto the play with no 'shortcuts' being used from an emu. There is also a HUGE paywall to key spells that takes about as many hours to grind as well. My dad watched me play this and recalled that he and my mother would take turns for an hour or two every night sitting in the same battle with a mage and letting it keep respawning ghosts because it was an easy way to farm exp/gold and they did it for weeks to level and get the gear/spells necessary to beat the game. I could not beat the last boss until level 34 and I'm pretty sure I got lucky because I rerolled my characters a hundred times for top VIT and INT.
Overall, I enjoyed my trek through Skara Brae and I feel like beating this game is a worthy quest for any true RPGer getting in touch with their roots.
"Bard's Tale" is a hardcore RPG game in a first-person, point-and-click style. "Tales of the Unknown" rose in popularity on DOS, Apple][ and C64. The NES version is a port, miniaturized to fit on the NES cartridge (The Computer versions were on 3 separate floppy disks). Even with the drastic loss of functionality in comparison to the original(s), this game is a great RPG with a high replay value. Unfortunately, Bard's Tall II was only released in Japan and Bard's Tale III never made it to the console world.
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