View Full Version : Bards Tale 2 - c64

05-22-2011, 07:26 AM
Ok. I have great memories of playing Bards Tale 2 on my c64. Hours and hours mapping out the dungeons on graph paper, grinding characters, etc...

I am close to either buying a c64 or running some emulation to play it again...

I watched some video game play on YouTube and it didn't appear to be as magical as it once was. Lol.

Do these games hold up over the years? What is everyone's thoughts?

05-22-2011, 08:42 AM
The original Bard's Tale trilogy was actually included with the retail version of the PC re-imagining. I'm not sure if it's bundled with the Steam version (http://store.steampowered.com/app/41900/?snr=1_4_4__13) - it doesn't look like it. You may also want to check out Devil Whiskey (http://www.devilwhiskey.com/), a modern remake more in line with the originals.

From what I know of the original trilogy, they do indeed seem like brutally difficult games.

05-22-2011, 09:40 AM
I wouldn't buy a C64 system just to play Bard's Tale 2. Nothing against the system or the game (I love both), but more a matter of logistics. If I were only interested in playing a few games on a system, I'd do it through emulation.

For that matter, emulation adds something great to those games -- save states. With emulation, you can freeze and save a game at any point. Pretty handy before going in to a big battle.

05-22-2011, 02:14 PM
I have had similar thoughts. I considered playing through emulation; I considered the Amiga version as opposed to the C-64 - superior graphics.

Kitsune Sniper
05-22-2011, 03:32 PM
The original Bard's Tale trilogy was actually included with the retail version of the PC re-imagining. I'm not sure if it's bundled with the Steam version (http://store.steampowered.com/app/41900/?snr=1_4_4__13) - it doesn't look like it. You may also want to check out Devil Whiskey (http://www.devilwhiskey.com/), a modern remake more in line with the originals.

From what I know of the original trilogy, they do indeed seem like brutally difficult games.

I'm pretty sure the original games aren't in the Steam version. Apparently they weren't included in European retail versions either - you have to get the US version.

05-22-2011, 09:50 PM
A few years back, I undertook an epic project: I sought to transfer my Apple ][ save games onto my PC so that I could pick back up the Bard's Tale trilogy on emulator. It was a few years before the software (I can't quite remember what it's called) would support a null modem connection to my LASER 128 clone, but finally I got it done - and I got all my Bard's Tale / BTII / BTIII save games.

Then what I did was use an Apple ][ emulator on my Nintendo DS (with a flash card) to pick back up the game. I was excited. This was going to be fun.

Except...not so much. I started to realize why I had put it back down: I had a lot of grinding to do before I was ready to get the next piece of the Destiny Wand (I think I had obtained 4/7 segments; on second thought, and looking at a walkthrough, I think I was on the Maze of Dread, which is the fourth part - so I guess I'm on part 4). And then there were the floors that randomly spin you in some direction...the fact that you have to look up every spell's code before you cast it...monsters that will come in and look just like members of your party, so you have to kill one of them (and it might be your party member)...floors where the normal tricks of temporarily disintegrating walls to pass through and teleporting down to the lower levels didn't work (read: just about EVERY dungeon after a certain point in the game, although they usually let you teleport back to the entrance - why include the spells in the game if you could never really use them?)...status effects for which there was no protection, and no cure apart from leaving your hard-won dungeon progress and going out to a temple...and, above all, no auto-mapping.

Maybe some day, when I have nothing better to do, I will pick this series back up. It is brutal, though - not necessarily just because of the difficulty, but because of the endless grinding required. Think of the worst of the JRPG grinding, then multiply it by a factor of 3-5x. The "difficulty" really comes mostly in the thousand little annoyances they've programmed into the game to make it a huge time sink. Instead of adding more content, they've just made each and every step through their dungeons a grueling, tedious grind. I guess that's what you have to do when you're limited to the capabilities of a mid- to late-80s PC, but it still feels a bit cheap, by today's standards. Battles aren't even strategic, after a certain point...you could practically program a bunch of macros to hit the keys you need to use based on your party order: A/A (Attack group A) for the first three or four rows (fighters), then Bard song, then Hide in the shadows, then Cast a spell. Or maybe two spellcasters. Once I had played Final Fantasy 7 on my PC, though, there was no turning back...Square had made some games where even the random battles could be fun (although that gets old, too, after a while), and I had to admit to myself that I hadn't missed looking up each spell in a big booklet (although, honestly, once you had it, there was only one attack spell you needed: MAMA, Mangar's Mallet). It's not like each new enemy was new character art, either - after a while, they're all just recycled and given a different name. There's also no sense or theme given to the random assortment of foes you face in each dungeon...ninjas, orcs, wizards, dragons, vikings, and whatever else - all on the same dungeon level (it's not even like "this is the ninja hideout; they're all here in this dungeon"), and fighting side-by-side? What's up with that?

At least they had made the grinding easy in Bard's Tale 1 with that battle with four groups of 99 Barbarians in Harkyn's Castle.

And if you're starting with a new party? Prepare to either a) create and delete a bunch of characters, taking each one's starting gold, before you get enough equipment to have some survive, or b) try your luck on getting a few to survive their first couple battles. I imported my party from BT1 into BT2, so didn't have that problem in the second one, but it could still be a VERY slow beginning for you.

Good luck, man. I tried to do what you're thinking about doing. I even picked back up my old game and characters, right where I left it / them. I just couldn't do it. There have been too many improvements since that day - I missed modern gaming, strange as it may sound, and how much easier they made it to enjoy the game instead of the grinding. And I used to love these games to death. Heck, it's even in my profile pic and my signature. But I think I am much more in love with the good times I used to have with these games than the enjoyment I could get out of them today...and I have too much of a backlog to really give these serious time-sinks a chance. And if I do - I'm going to get my maps from a cheat site; there's no way I'm making my own. I just don't have the time or patience for it, I suppose, although some people say that's a lot of the fun. Maybe it still would be, without all the random traps designed specifically to confuse you about where you are.

EDIT: The program I used to transfer files from my Apple ][ to my PC was ADTPro:

The Nintendo DS emulator was called Pom DS:

although it looks like PomDS' page is gone; not sure where to find it these days.

05-28-2011, 10:16 PM
You're exactly right calthaer, and that's why I still have not finished BT3. The first Bard's Tale I felt was very well balanced. Sure the last few levels of Mangar's Tower were brutal, but that's the way it should be. However, I could never finish BT2 back in the day. I finally did using an emulator and save states, but it was more of a chore than "fun". BT3 is even worse. You don't have to level grind though, because there are encounters every 2 steps. I found myself running from every encounter out of sheer boredom. Even with save states, and even coming back to the game every few months or years, I only made it about half way through the game.

06-13-2011, 07:44 PM
That was a great read, calthaer, and a cautionary tale about reliving games from childhood.

07-21-2011, 09:10 AM
Earlier this year I started replaying Pool of Radiance on my Amiga 500. I had fond memories of the game on c64, but never came close to finishing it back in the day. I was surprised how well it held up and really enjoyed it. On the other hand, Might & Magic was my favorite RPG on the Apple 2. I absolutely loved it when it came out. I popped in the discs recently to tried to get it going, and realized I just didn't have the patience for it. Amazing game for the time, but I just can't get into it now, which was very different than my PoR experience. I wrote about them here:


And here: