Bard's Tale I: Tales of the Unknown, The
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RAM Requirement: 512k RAM
Other Requirements: Character Disk
Control: Mouse and Keyboard
Release Status: Abandonware
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developers: Rebecca 'Burger' Heineman
System 6 Compatible: Yes
Hard Drive Installable: Yes
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Bard's Tale, the classic role playing game from Interplay Productions, was programmed by resident GS guru Rebecca Heineman (back in the day, Bill Heinemen) and this game is simply a delight to play. The IIGS version had the advantage of being the last version to be ported and was enhanced by a new animated introduction as well as having the ability to convert characters from other popular Apple II role playing titles.
The IIGS version is tightly written, allowing for smooth, flicker free game play. Interplay went to great lengths for the player to listen to the Bard's music like never before, recording MIDI instruments to reproduce the Bard's tunes beautifully.
Already found in the Amiga and Atari ST versions, are the utterly fantastic graphics by Todd Camasta. These include some of the best computer drawn artwork ever. These pictures are just pixel perfect ladies and gentleman. And they're nicely animated what's more. For something really neat, when you find the catacombs, just wait and see what happens when you just stare at the walls...
The game involves the isolated town of Skara Brae at the mercy of an evil mage called Mangar. The player controls a band of men who are more than willing to topple Mangar and set the town free. The game comes complete with an existing group of adventurers, but you can create your own. I used the default group right from the word go and it's not hard to figure out why: El Cid, the Bard, has a fire horn. When you begin, your party will be very weak in terms of attack and defensive power and the fire horn will kill every monster in sight if you're losing a particular fight. But repeated use of the fire horn will see that it disappears in a puff of smoke.
After each battle, the outcome of which is based on the attributes of your characters and your opponents, you will accumulate both experience points and gold. Experience points are used at the Review Board, whom decides whether your characters are worthy of a level advancement. Gold will buy you most things. Equip your men well. You will find Garth's Equipment shop several paces north of the Adventurers Guild. The Bard needs to drink before playing music to work magic. And your mages need spell points to fuel their power.
The Bard's Tale plays from day to night. I would recommend staying indoors through night if you are beginning, because some of the fiercer creatures come out at night. Beginners, make sure you are using your band to fight effectively; only the first three members of your party can battle hand to hand, the next three only being able to make distance attacks. Use Brian the Fist, Sampson and either El Cid or Markus for melee combat. Use Merlin and Omar for distance attacks, which can be achieved with some of the 85 spells available to them.
I don't have any resources I can include with the archive regarding maps, or answers to riddles etc. I've spent more hours playing Bard's Tale than any other computer game in the past and likely in the future. I didn't map the dungeons on paper. I mapped them in my head. Not including maps will make the game last longer anyway; it would take the fun out of exploring the many levels of sewers, catacombs, castles and towers.
Bard's Tale is a game you can master. And it's great fun along the way.
Note: A ready-made character disk has been included in this archive. When you click on 'Start the Bard's Tale' the game will ask which drive the character disk is in. Selecting Drive 2, Slot 1 should work if you have inserted both disks in your emulator. Now also includes a hacked character disk courtesy of Clay Cummins, which will allow you to buy every possible item from a fully stocked Garth's Inventory Store.