Bard’s Tale, The

I just like playing games, even though I may not be very good. I finished the two Buffy games, and the Indiana Jones games though, and this one is similar in game play. I had never even heard of this game until it came in the mail one day. Being the wife of the site owner, I get to open lots of weird packages, usually containing movies that people want reviewed, things of that nature. When I saw it was a game, I ripped it open and started playing.

It’s just the kind of game I love to play! It’s an RPG, with a new kind of twist: the whole outcome of the game is changed by whether you’re snarky or nice to the people you meet. So you’ve got to play it by ear, because sometimes if you are nice to them, they’ll give you what you want, but if you are mean, they’ll just tell you to go away. And vice versa. For example, the feisty barmaid in the beginning seems to like the rough orders of a man, but will shun you if you try to be nice to her. It’s fun to try both ways, to see if there would be any difference. Had to warm up my pimp slap for some of the characters, let me tell you.

So anyway, the basic story is that you’re The Bard, an arrogant ass of a man, and you play different tunes, calling up different assistants. Critters that electrocute the enemy, critters that heal you, critters that fight, etc. And as you go along, you learn more, and meet people that refer you to your ultimate quest: to save a princess who is being held captive.

Yeah, heard that before.

But The Bard’s Tale plays it well, everything tongue in cheek, from the stuffily sarcastic narrator to The Bard himself. It takes more than a few jabs at those endless quest games where you have to go to a dozen different places to accomplish one task, all the while doing it as well. Some of the remarks get a little repetitive; the characters say the same sort of “clever” thing again and again. Once is clever, eight times is just lazy, folks. You can only hear “So I just have to go to the gate, huhr And I suppose I’ll have to defeat the giant fire-breathing monkey there too, rightr After I climb the waterfall only to jump back downr” Well there aren’t any monkeys, but you get the idea.

The voices are all great, with Cary Elwes starring as The Bard. The game was very easy to play, no confusing controls or anything. I think there was only one part that the game really slowed down noticeably, a scene with a ton of Vikings. The quality of some of the videos is kinda crappy, which I was surprised at. If you’ve got no patience and just want to get to the action the game may irritate you, as it has a LOT of videos and songs.

The songs! Oh man, they are just wild. Every once in awhile little guys will jump out and sing you songs. And there are other parts where you can initiate songs, such as listening to drunks in a tavern, or participating in a talent show, etc. They can be cute, but awfully monotonous and annoying if you listen too long.

It took me over 17:06 hours according to the time on my save, and I know it’s really longer, since I loaded up my save before dying quite a few times. Plus all the replays of the different scenes. And of course, the THREE different endings! Yeah, three! You’ve gotta see them all, too. I wanted to see if I could get through the whole game without having to consult a walkthrough, but there were two spots where I was just mindblowingly stuck. (Thank you GameFAQs.com!) One was the underground caves with all the dead Vikings that re-spawned. The second was in the OTHER underground caves on the way to the Island Tower, with the blue fishy guys and the rock guys that also re-spawned. I could not find the stupid guy that you’ve gotta find. And I never found all the tokens, but I think I managed to get two-thirds of them.

Anyway, I’ll get to the main point. I had a lot of fun playing the game, laughed often, cursed the bosses more than that, but I finished it, and wouldn’t mind playing through again. Maybe next time I’ll find everything.

Rating: B+