Since I have been on the topic of music lately, I decided to dust off an old review that I wrote (but never recorded) a musical game that I have come to adore: The Bard’s Tale for the PS2.

Let me start with a brief history lesson.  Bard’s tale III: The Thief of Fate for the Commodore 64 provided me with my first computer based role playing game experience.  I found the storyline to be amazing, and it gave me my first taste of what it is like to build up and evolve a character over time.  You traveled through the world of Skara Brae, and your combat was described to you with a scrolling text.  These limited graphics allowed your imagination to take over, and actually enhanced, rather than diminished, the story of the game.

I moved on to other Role-playing games, including the forgotten realms series and the DragonLance series, but the Bard’s tale always held a special place in my memories.

When I discovered that a Bards Tale game had been developed for the PS2, I couldn’t wait to give it a try.  I soon discovered two things:

  • The game was nothing like the original Bard’s Tale series.  Combat is real-time rather than turn-based, and none of the familiar spells, songs, or classes (except perhaps, the Bard) can be found in this game.  There was no mention of the world of Skara Brae, and you don’t even form a party.
  • None of this diminishes the quality of the game.

In the Bard’s Tale, you play the bard in his quest for coin and cleavage.  There is a legend of a “chosen one” who will save the world from an evil force.  As you travel through the story, you come across all manner of men that believe they are the chosen one, ignorant to the fact that it is actually you, our beloved reluctant anti-hero.

The Bard’s Tale is a pleasant satire that eloquently lambastes the typical fantasy role-playing game.  The voice acting for the bard is done by Cary Elwes of The Princess Bride fame, and the arguments between the bard and narrator are quite entertaining.

In addition to having a satirical storyline, The Bard’s Tale happens to be a fun game to play, but only if you have the “manager”  (rather than “action hero”) mentality.  As you go through the game, you use your bard songs to summon heroes and magical creatures to help you in your battles.  Basically, if you like playing the necromancer in Diablo II, this might be the game for you.  On the other hand, if you prefer the barbarian, you might want to move on to something else.

Fans of the original game that are looking for a true sequel in the  series will might be disappointed, but I think those that are seeking a somewhat original game will enjoy this one.

EDIT –  I’ll go a step further: This is the game that Brutal Legend should have been.