How do you rank the games?

For all discussion on all the previous Bard's Tale games: the classic 1980s games (Bard's Tale, II: Destiny Knight, & III: Thief of Fate) & the humorous Bard's Tale (2004) spin off.

Moderator: Bard Hall Bouncers

ssfsx17
Novice
Posts: 27
Joined: January 26th, 2015, 1:35 pm

How do you rank the games?

Post by ssfsx17 » February 14th, 2017, 12:32 pm

I would rank them as follows:

Best: BT1

2nd: BT2

3rd: BT3

My reasoning: BT2 is where the critical hit and mass-magic creep starts to set in. Normal weapon damage and single-target spells become decreasingly useful. You can expect all but one party member to get critically-murdered in the final battle. Worst of all are the real-time puzzles, which feel like they break a game design contract that had been established by the subgenre.

BT3 is pretty much all about critical hits and the DIVA & NUKE spells. Normal attacks are totally obsolete. And there are way too damn many darkness tiles. The random encounters can feel like boss battles, with how many enemy groups there are and how much summoning they do. It's telling when people say that you ought to just run away from as many fights as possible in this game. The deepest run that I've made it through is Kinestia, before promptly giving up.

User avatar
Drool
Forum Moderator
Posts: 9032
Joined: March 17th, 2012, 9:58 pm
Location: Under Tenebrosia, doing shots with Sceadu.

Re: How do you rank the games?

Post by Drool » February 14th, 2017, 11:17 pm

Oh, that's a pity. 3 has some great writing in it if you look. Hell, Kinestia has some pretty interesting philosophical questions that it raises.

Of course, 3 is much more interesting when you're punching above your weight class. I remember fighting in Gelidia against the mages when I wasn't quite ready for them. Balancing the Archmage's healing while the Chronomancer dropped LUCK was a lot of fun.
Alwa nasci korliri das.

I neither work, nor speak, for inXile.

Not too late; make it eight!

balinor
Novice
Posts: 25
Joined: May 6th, 2016, 2:49 am

Re: How do you rank the games?

Post by balinor » February 15th, 2017, 1:46 am

BT 1 and then I think I'd rank 2 and 3 equally. BT1 definitely is my favourite overall though but I'm not sure how much of that is nostalgia because that's the one I started on and played so many times before ever even seeing 2 or 3.

ZZGO
Acolyte
Posts: 77
Joined: October 4th, 2016, 1:33 am

Re: How do you rank the games?

Post by ZZGO » February 15th, 2017, 6:26 am

I have the best memories of Bard's Tale 1. But that may be heavily influenced by nostalgia - I was a wide-eyed kid and it was a game like nothing I'd seen or played before. It was awesome.

In hindsight, the best game is arguable part 3. It obviously had the most refined user interface and game engine, but it also had the best story and storytelling. Stackpole's writing skills show.
What BT3 gets minus points for is the (obviously extremely high) power level especially at the end, where you would basically NUKE your way through endless seas of enemies. It became so over the top that it broke immersion. It also broke the combat system, by rendering it redundant - the battles simply took place an order of magnitude above what the basically good combat system was written for.

Bard's Tale 2 was just too hard for me. I'd never have made it without a walkthrough, and so this title is mostly associated with frustration. (I dimly recall only making it into, perhaps even through, The Tombs, i.e. the first quest dungeon after the Dark Domain starter. Remember, I was just a kid.)
On the bright side, the wilderness and the various towns were great to explore.
The addition of ranged combat was so-so. It certainly was great for the first few dungeons, and would have been a real blast to have in BT1. But it was only an improvement to a combat system that, as a whole, wasn't meaningful anymore a few dungeons into the game, when the Archmages took over. See my complaints above about that.

Ether
Scholar
Posts: 142
Joined: July 6th, 2015, 9:32 am

Re: How do you rank the games?

Post by Ether » February 17th, 2017, 4:45 am

When I was younger it was 3, 1, then 2.

Being older can appreciate the starting from scratch feel that bt 1 has, and that bigger isn't always better, so I view the two much more evenly.
Bt 3 gets props from me for actually telling a story, and inserting some really good ideas into the franchise.

I just remember not being able to hit anything on the c64 version of bt 2, and a lot of the puzzles and mazes were just too much. It amazes me than anyone could or would finish it on their own without help.

Ether
Scholar
Posts: 142
Joined: July 6th, 2015, 9:32 am

Re: How do you rank the games?

Post by Ether » February 17th, 2017, 9:16 am

Btw, I will disagree about bt 3 only being about Nuke and other large spells.
The Hunter kills everything throughout the game.
The Monk does so through most of the game. It's not till Malefia where most creatures can survive his assault.
The Rogue even gets to kill in this one, albeit slowly.
Palladins and Warriors are left out, though the Stoneblade is a cheap solution. Of course, they can also become Geomancers.

Now yeah, if you run into twenty of something you'll probably want to cast a spell, but for the most part your fighters did have a function.

User avatar
Drool
Forum Moderator
Posts: 9032
Joined: March 17th, 2012, 9:58 pm
Location: Under Tenebrosia, doing shots with Sceadu.

Re: How do you rank the games?

Post by Drool » February 17th, 2017, 8:45 pm

Ether wrote:Now yeah, if you run into twenty of something you'll probably want to cast a spell, but for the most part your fighters did have a function.
Yeah. Even with Mangar staffs knocking off 75% of the spell cost, I usually reserved NUKE, DIVA, and EAMA for extremely dangerous foes (like Black Slayers). And Vortexes just laughed at your NUKEs any way.
Alwa nasci korliri das.

I neither work, nor speak, for inXile.

Not too late; make it eight!

SuperDave17
Initiate
Posts: 14
Joined: October 3rd, 2016, 11:03 pm

Re: How do you rank the games?

Post by SuperDave17 » April 13th, 2017, 4:40 pm

Bard's Tale 3, easily. After all these years, it still has one of the most poignant stories ever told in a CRPG imho. The whole thing is bittersweet in the extreme.

Learning about the apocalpytic siege that overtook Gelidia, that it made the last few survivors so desperate that they were willing to essentially suicide bomb themselves just to take the the invaders with them. How it resulted not just in Lanatir's death, but his daughter and grandson, and how that in turn is driving Hawkslayer in a furious pursuit of revenge.

Then learning what happened to Alliria and Cyanis in Lucencia, ouch ... that's a real tear jerker.

The story itself also offers profound reflections on the nature of life and immortality and good and evil. What happened to some of the old gods and their allies was really tragic. They may not have wanted to go at the times of their deaths, but the game often drops hints that once death came, they seemed relieved on a certain level to pass the torch and rest from the charges they had carried for so long.

For example, it's heavily implied that Valarian went down swinging against Tarjan. When you see him in his grave, his spirit makes it clear that he's ready to embrace rest, and his only regret was that he and the other Gods didn't kill Tarjan when they had him at their mercy long ago. But seeing the party who will become the new Gods, he's satisfied that Tarjan will meet his end as well, and so he can go to his rest without any regrets.

When you see Alliria's spirit in her tomb, she actually smiles whenever you give her one of the roses. Despite the extremely horrific manner of her death, she's ready to embrace rest as well, as long as somebody remembers who she was and what she stood for. It takes some of the edge off of her tragedy, at least for a time, until you find her coffin, and it sinks in that she is now truly gone from the physical world for good. Bitter and sweet side by side.

User avatar
Drool
Forum Moderator
Posts: 9032
Joined: March 17th, 2012, 9:58 pm
Location: Under Tenebrosia, doing shots with Sceadu.

Re: How do you rank the games?

Post by Drool » April 13th, 2017, 11:26 pm

I agree wholeheartedly, SuperDave. It's easy to miss, but the writing was amazing considering how tight they had to pack everything in there. They didn't even have a paragraphs book like Wasteland to shoulder the load.
Alwa nasci korliri das.

I neither work, nor speak, for inXile.

Not too late; make it eight!

User avatar
Crosmando
Supreme Jerk
Posts: 5049
Joined: January 3rd, 2013, 8:48 am

Re: How do you rank the games?

Post by Crosmando » April 13th, 2017, 11:28 pm

BT2 is my favorite, because wilderness and more open-world-ish.
Matthias did nothing wrong!

miasma
Initiate
Posts: 8
Joined: April 13th, 2018, 10:25 am

Re: How do you rank the games?

Post by miasma » April 13th, 2018, 10:39 am

Best: BT3
2nd: BT1
3rd: BT2

BT3 was the best for me for a few reasons, but most notably for the story and the interface. Having automap was also very much appreciated. I will admit that I cheated my way through the game by having an unlimited supply of harmonic gems. I think another reason I rank this as the best is simply nostalgia, as this is the one that I spent the most time playing.

BT1 is a close runner up. It was extremely shallow in terms of plot, but I liked the fact that the entire game took place in one big city. I know game designers often think bigger is better, but for me, having everything in one city actually made the game more interesting in some ways. I liked that fact that I could get very familiar with the layout of it all, and yet still have portions of it that were inaccessible until my party got stronger. I can't even tell you how many times I'd go to the gates in front of Kylearan's tower, wondering how I'd get in, and what I'd find inside.

BT2 comes in last place mainly for just being too difficult to be enjoyable. Although, having said that, I found that the early stages of the game were actually less difficult than the early stages of BT1. So it was fun in the beginning, but then became tedious, and I never would have seen the ending had I not eventually used a cheat that let me simply purchase the wand segments in Garth's shop.

PsychicMonk
Acolyte
Posts: 87
Joined: April 16th, 2012, 10:54 am

Re: How do you rank the games?

Post by PsychicMonk » April 13th, 2018, 3:39 pm

1) Dragon Wars (if this counts)
2) Bard's Tale 3
3) Bard's Tale 1
4) Bard's Tale 2
Last edited by PsychicMonk on April 14th, 2018, 4:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

_noblesse_oblige_
Adventurer
Posts: 668
Joined: July 13th, 2015, 7:18 pm

Re: How do you rank the games?

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » April 13th, 2018, 5:42 pm

miasma wrote:
April 13th, 2018, 10:39 am
BT1 is a close runner up. It was extremely shallow in terms of plot, but I liked the fact that the entire game took place in one big city. I know game designers often think bigger is better, but for me, having everything in one city actually made the game more interesting in some ways. I liked that fact that I could get very familiar with the layout of it all, and yet still have portions of it that were inaccessible until my party got stronger. I can't even tell you how many times I'd go to the gates in front of Kylearan's tower, wondering how I'd get in, and what I'd find inside.
Wow - can't believe I never posted to this thread.
BT1 is definitely my favorite, then BT3 over BT2 (the little that I played either of them).

Becoming familiar with Skara Brae and having that closed in feeling was an enjoyable aspect. Shallowness of plot didn't really bother me - I was content with "an evil wizard and his minions hold sway over the town - defeat them". Definitely agree about that enjoyable sense of wondering what was behind a locked gate or beyond an Ogre Lord or Grey Dragon statue.
Ether wrote:
February 17th, 2017, 4:45 am
Being older can appreciate the starting from scratch feel that bt 1 has, and that bigger isn't always better, so I view the two much more evenly.
Yeah, that too. That wandering around with a low-level party, dreading an encounter with 4+ Barbarians that you couldn't run from, always checking the time to see when you had to start back to the AG before nightfall. Or, even a slightly higher level party out on the town at night, in a cold sweat after fighting 8 Wolves, Zombies, or Jade Monks, rapidly diving into the temple, whose wall you had been hugging. Those are some of the best memories and that's not even in the dungeons.

And finishing the game as accomplished heroes, not gods. That was quite fine by me. Ascension to godhood is not necessary for a great ending. Being those who freed Skara Brae from terror was enough.
cmibl<enter>

User avatar
Drool
Forum Moderator
Posts: 9032
Joined: March 17th, 2012, 9:58 pm
Location: Under Tenebrosia, doing shots with Sceadu.

Re: How do you rank the games?

Post by Drool » April 13th, 2018, 5:51 pm

_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
April 13th, 2018, 5:42 pm
Yeah, that too. That wandering around with a low-level party, dreading an encounter with 4+ Barbarians that you couldn't run from
I remember firing up BT3 because I wanted to record some gameplay, possibly to make a full LP of the game. I built my party in the Refuge Camp and then explored around a little, talking about the landmarks and such before heading to Skara Brae. I ran into a fight with some lizards. First fight of the game.

Total. Party. Wipe.

The closing "cinematic" in BT3 might have you ascending to become the new gods of the multiverse, but you still started just as squishy.


As for me, I rank them 3, 1, 2. This is likely colored by the fact that I played 3 first and barely played 2 at all. Maybe I'm just spoiled from all the Gold Box games, but I also prefer the QoL improvements 3 had over 1.
Alwa nasci korliri das.

I neither work, nor speak, for inXile.

Not too late; make it eight!

User avatar
ZiN
Explorer
Posts: 444
Joined: January 27th, 2015, 7:57 am

Re: How do you rank the games?

Post by ZiN » April 14th, 2018, 3:47 am

_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
April 13th, 2018, 5:42 pm
Or, even a slightly higher level party out on the town at night, in a cold sweat after fighting 8 Wolves, Zombies, or Jade Monks, rapidly diving into the temple, whose wall you had been hugging. Those are some of the best memories and that's not even in the dungeons.
Yeah, it gave a nice sense of progress, when I didn't feel lost on the streets of Skara Brae and Tangramayne anymore, on the contrary, I was actually looking forward to some nighttime ass-kicking, with my shiny new spells. But of course, never straying too far from the Temples. "Cranfordian" design at its best! : )
Drool wrote:
April 13th, 2018, 5:51 pm
I remember firing up BT3 because I wanted to record some gameplay, possibly to make a full LP of the game. I built my party in the Refuge Camp and then explored around a little, talking about the landmarks and such before heading to Skara Brae. I ran into a fight with some lizards. First fight of the game.

Total. Party. Wipe.
Those were no ordinary lizards though, they were Slathbeasts, mentioned before, by Gizmo as well. With a fresh party, you should definitely run from those, especially if there are 3 of them. If you managed to get one to join your party though, you were pretty much set for the first few levels of the catacombs. Not to mention the Big Slath, which would last through Unterbrae as well.

For the rankings, for me it's:

1. BT3 (C64, Amiga)
2. BT2 (Apple IIGS, Amiga)
3. BT1 (Apple IIGS, Amiga)

I also listed in parentheses the 2 best versions of the games, because there are big differences, in my opinion. One thing that is certain: The PC conversions are the worst versions.

Each sequel raised the stakes and improved something on the top of the previous one, for example introducing new mage classes, spells and bard songs, bigger bestiaries and item lists. BT2 also introduced an open world (@ ~300 KBytes it it was actual magic), while BT3 added an epic story as well. All this, while not changing too much and staying true to the original formula.
Ah, the good-old times! : )

User avatar
thebruce
Forum Moderator
Posts: 1212
Joined: February 17th, 2015, 8:46 am
Contact:

Re: How do you rank the games?

Post by thebruce » April 14th, 2018, 7:41 am

Having finally just watched Cranford's talk at GDC, this post gave me some good nostalgic feels again :)
Visit BardsTaleOnline.com - your community Bard's Tale classic RPG resource!
Twitter: @BardsTaleOnline / Facebook: Bards.Tale.Online
@thebruce0

User avatar
ScottMacFar
Initiate
Posts: 16
Joined: January 30th, 2015, 5:20 pm

Re: How do you rank the games?

Post by ScottMacFar » April 14th, 2018, 7:55 am

I was in 10th grade when Bard's Tale I came out. Played on a Commodore 64. Had to buy the C-1541 Disk Drive just to do so! Hand mapped every square of all 16 maps, beat the game back in 1985, well before internet walk-throughs or cheats. So based partly on nostalgia but also accomplishment, BT1 will always be most fondly remembered as the best one of the series.

That said, I thought BT3 was absolutely brilliant. I played that on my C64, my friend's Apple II (green monochrome, don't know the model), and later on MS-DOS. Never finished it. I got to Malefia on both the C64 and DOS, but just couldn't bear the unreasonable number of encounters that required spamming Divine Intervention and Gotterdamarung (NUKE) at every round.

BT2 broke my heart with the whole real-time snare component. No thank you.

And someone above mentioned Dragon Wars. THAT was a great game, what BT4 should be modeled after in my opinion. The only problem with it is the hideous sound system and the paragraph blocks. If that game was remastered for better sound, stability, incorporation of the paragraph text, and keeping the graphics the same with an improved color palette, GOTY material for sure.

User avatar
thebruce
Forum Moderator
Posts: 1212
Joined: February 17th, 2015, 8:46 am
Contact:

Re: How do you rank the games?

Post by thebruce » April 14th, 2018, 8:11 am

I liked that the paragraph text was out of the game. It was a good incentive to buy the game (in that era), it kept the game size small, it definitely piqued curiosity every time one popped up to read, and it REALLY helped fill out the game world! Honestly, I felt like a lot more like the DW game world was more 'alive' in a sense because of that aspect to the game. Loved it.
Visit BardsTaleOnline.com - your community Bard's Tale classic RPG resource!
Twitter: @BardsTaleOnline / Facebook: Bards.Tale.Online
@thebruce0

User avatar
ZiN
Explorer
Posts: 444
Joined: January 27th, 2015, 7:57 am

Re: How do you rank the games?

Post by ZiN » April 14th, 2018, 8:25 am

ScottMacFar wrote:
April 14th, 2018, 7:55 am
That said, I thought BT3 was absolutely brilliant. I played that on my C64, my friend's Apple II (green monochrome, don't know the model), and later on MS-DOS. Never finished it. I got to Malefia on both the C64 and DOS, but just couldn't bear the unreasonable number of encounters that required spamming Divine Intervention and Gotterdamarung (NUKE) at every round.
Yep, Malefia was pure evil, but the encounter rate was only bugged on the PC. On the C64 and Amiga, while there were still many of them, it was way more bearable. Sir Robin's Tune and Speedboots also helped a lot.
ScottMacFar wrote:
April 14th, 2018, 7:55 am
And someone above mentioned Dragon Wars. THAT was a great game, what BT4 should be modeled after in my opinion. The only problem with it is the hideous sound system...
I disagree. On the Amiga at least, the music was way better, than in BT. The short one on the C64 was also quite a catchy tune. Funnily, on the Apple IIGS, it wasn't up to the standards though, so in this regard it is exactly the opposite of BT.

User avatar
thebruce
Forum Moderator
Posts: 1212
Joined: February 17th, 2015, 8:46 am
Contact:

Re: How do you rank the games?

Post by thebruce » April 14th, 2018, 8:31 am

Oh man, I don't think I've ever played the Amiga DW. The graphics, it's like night and day, lol, so many shades of colours! haha
Visit BardsTaleOnline.com - your community Bard's Tale classic RPG resource!
Twitter: @BardsTaleOnline / Facebook: Bards.Tale.Online
@thebruce0

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests