Turn-based combat isn't for everyone and in this game you'll see a lot of it.

User Rating: 6 | The Bard's Tale NES
The Bard's tale was released on multiple formats. The NES version that Nintendo licensed was the last one that was released and the most colorful one. It is a bit stripped but with the invaluable map-add-on that shows you where you are at all times makes this version arguably the ultimate one. As you discover the unknown tales and mysteries of Skara Brae, the town in where the game plays out, you'll do A LOT of exploring and fighting. Personally, the C64 version of this game was what got me into hard-core, turn-based RPG's of the extremely traditional kind in the mid-eighties. I never finished the game back then on the C64 but I have now. This is my review of the NES version.

This game isn't exactly known for its great graphics, although the NES version's visuals are superior to all other versions, it's boring to look at the streets of Skara Brae as you walk around. The same goes for the caverns. When you encounter something it's displayed as a still picture of the monsters, chests or people. There are a few shops, temples and pubs to explore. All the pubs in the game look the same, all the temples look the same (even though they worship different deities) and the monsters look lame. I actually preferred the obscure, dark, unpolished visuals of the earlier versions more. So much more could have been included to make this an ace release. As it stands now, it looks boring, it has bad menu layout and the graphics look repetitive. Another annoying mistake in the layout is the inconsistencies and broken dialogues. One example is when you want to SELL your short-sword and Garth (the shop owner) asks you "Do you want a shortsword? 100 gold". This is confusing and feels untested and broken.

For a Role-player it has good music. It has quite a few tunes that are all top notch. I find the compositions themselves way above average as they use cool harmonies and parts in canon. The battle music is a bit more hectic which is cool. As your bard plays songs, you'll also hear a little tune, which is a nice touch but the sound effects are horrible, as always with these kinds of games. They consist of distorted sounds and beeps.

Turn-based combat isn't for everyone and in this game you'll see a lot of it. The battle system includes attacks, magic, item-use and a nice unique touch; songs. If you've included a bard in your party, and you really should, he can play songs that enhance the battle skill of your fighters, freeze your enemies, lower the chance/risk of random encounters and, most importantly, take you back to the traveler's guild. In the aforementioned guild you also create characters, save games, change members in the party, share gold etc. The fights are really addictive and the exploration is fun sometimes but there is the small matter of teleports that make it impossible to remember where you are or where to go unless you're Rainman or you like to draw maps. If you're not into map-drawing, this could get tedious. However, even though the story is as thin as ice in spring you'll still want to explore the various areas and battle new monsters and eventually, complete the game. One of the best parts of the game is the leveling up. It's very satisfying as you'll notice every time you raise a stat in the battles. Every new piece of armor makes a difference. I think Interplay should have kept the "Hide in Shadows" feature for the rogue and the more developed magic/spells system of the earlier versions. It's still good fun though.

Not much to do after completing the game, but you'll definitely want to finish it, and maybe play through it again after a few years have passed.

A version with good things added like the map. Some things missing, some skills and spells and also some puzzles (!). The classic 99 Berserker fight is nowhere to be found. Fun game though.