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.

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ssfsx17
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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.
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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.
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