The Bard's Tale
Developer: InXile Entertainment
Websites: Giant Bomb
Game Rating: T (Teen)
[Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence]
Release Date: October 26, 2004
$19.99 / $11.00: Game Stop - Roseville: June 17, 2007
Dolby 5.1 Surround
NOTES: Playable on Xbox 360
Loosely based on (or "inspired by", if you will) the classic Bard's Tale series that began as an Apple II RPG in 1985, this new installment brings a fresh dose of comedy to the genre with a 3D isometric view that runs on the Champions of Norrath engine. Is a dragon terrorizing the locals? The Bard will take care of it... for the right price. Local princess held captive? The Bard is your man... as long as she's hot. Use the Snarky/Nice conversation to pick the tone -- be an ass or show some class. Your attitude will affect the events that unfold and create a personalized experience for each player. Develop your combat party by summoning a group of eccentrics and misfits to do your bidding - sixteen summoned creatures in all. The game runs on the Champions of Norrath engine and features locations based on the storied land of the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland - the inspiration for the classic fantasy worlds.
The Bard's Tale Cheats
Hold L and R and enter these cheats during game play
RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, UP, DOWN, UP, DOWN
Damage times 100:
UP, DOWN, UP, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT
Enemy attacks pass through Bard:
LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, UP, DOWN, UP, DOWN
Full health and mana:
LEFT, LEFT, RIGHT, RIGHT, UP, DOWN, UP, DOWN
Silver pieces and Adderstones:
UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT
Cheat: All Levels
Hold L + R during gameplay and enter: RIGHT, RIGHT, LEFT, LEFT, UP, DOWN, UP, DOWN
There are 25 tokens in all throughout The Bard's Tale, however you'll only be able to get 24 in any one game.
Findruine Charm (+1 VIT)
To get this token you need to talk to the hunter in the Fairyhaunt Woods. He'll tell you about the good hunting in the area. Get yourself a bow, if you haven't already, and slowly walk around in the Fairyhaunt woods. Eventually your dog will scare up a grouse which you can pick off with your trusty bow. The dog will pick up the grouse and head back to you. DO NOT let the dog get near you or the grouse will be turned into coin… instead, lead the dog which has the grouse in it's mouth back to the hunter. When you get there, the hunter will unlock the hunting grounds on your world map. Go there to find the Findruine Charm.
Badger Hide Gloves (+1 STR)
Found in a chest in the Neversdale Woods.
Eagle Charm (+1 RHY)
Found in a chest in the Neversdale Woods.
Rabbit's Foot (+1 Luck)
Talk to Ogan's mum back in Houton after you find his dead body in the Neversdale Woods. Be nice to her and she'll give you the Rabbit's Foot token.
Falstone (+10% XP)
Found in a chest in a dark storage room in Kirkwall. You'll need the Light Fairy to shed some light on the situation.
Silver Torc (+1 CHA)
Found in a chest on level 3 of the Forest Tower.
Golden Coronet (+2 CHA)
Found in a chest in the Frozen Tombs.
Ring of Tara (+2 RHY)
This is where you have to decide between two tokens. You can't get both. If you are a complete ass to Dolyn, he'll run away after you free him from behind the ice wall. He'll get killed by a trap and you will find the Ring of Tara on his body. If you're nice to him and help him escape the Frozen Tombs, you'll meet up with him later on and he'll give you a different token.
Badge of Wind (+1 DEX)
Be nice to Gower at the end of this chapter and you'll have to give him that sweet sword you just found; the Casgair. He'll give you the Badge of Wind in return. Be snarky and you'll get to keep the sword, but you won't get the token.
Silver Horseshoe (+2 Luck)
Found in a chest on level 2 of the Mountain Tower.
Boots of Quickening (+2 DEX)
Talk to the crier in The Tup pub in West Dounby and agree to be in the talent show. You'll get the Boots of Quickening as a reward.
Mantel of Ossian (+3 CHA)
Go to Trowle's Pub in Finstown and summon your rat. One of the vikings there will be scared to death of the little vermin and give you the Mantel of Ossian to keep his cowardice a secret.
Broonie's Cloak (+10% health regen.)
Found in a chest in the Finstown Armory.
Fae Locket (+2 VIT)
Found in a hidden room off part 2 of Lord Bauder's Dungeon. You'll need the upgraded explorer summon to find the hidden room.
Belt of the Oak (+2 STR)
You'll find this token in a chest in Lord Merrimont's Divination Chamber.
Four Leaf Clover (+3 Luck)Found in a chest on the farm in Stromness.
Golden Thistle Ring (+50 to max HP)
Found in a chest on the farm in Stromness.
White Book of Rhydderch (+50 to mana)
If you were nice to Dolyn and helped him escape the Frozen Tombs in chapter 6, you'll meet up with him here and he'll give you the White Book of Rhydderch out of gratitude.
Lightning Stone (+3 DEX)
You'll meet a man by the name of Olav in the Finfolk Caverns. Olav likes to talk...a lot. If you're patient and let Olav finish what he has to say without any snarky interruptions, he'll give you the Lightning Stone.
Firbolg Armbands (+3 STR)
It doesn't matter if you're snarky or nice to Bannock the firbolg. You'll get the Firbolg Armbands either way.
There are 5 treasure maps throughout the game that you can buy that each unlock one of the extra dungeons. The little trow running around the world map sells 4, if you can catch him, and you can buy 1 in the weapons shop in Houton.
Ruins of Dun Ailinne:
Golden Spyglass (+10% treasure value)
Found in a chest in the northwest room of this dungeon.
Cairn of Ardagh:
Amulet of Lyr (+1d5 bonus to armor)You'll need the upgraded explorer summon to find the hidden room that holds the Amulet of Lyr in this dungeon.
Cairn of Carrowmore:
Phial of Medb (+3 VIT)
You'll need the upgraded explorer summon to find the hidden room that holds the Amulet of Lyr in this dungeon.
Ruins of Tara:
Cormac's Chalice (+3 RHY)
You'll need the upgraded explorer to...well, you get the point.
Ruins of Emain Macha:
White Book of Hergest (+10% mana regen.)
Ok, so you don't need the upgraded explorer summon to find this one; it's in a chest in plain sight…but you'll probably want him out anyway because of all the damn traps.
Eric Flannum Interview
Forget the quest to save the world, our hero is interested in just two things… coin and cleavage. A deep RPG experience with non-linear game play resulting in many different outcomes and true replay value. Using the “Snarkom” conversation system lets the players choose the tone of the Bard's interactions between 'snarky' or 'nice'. Make your choice and live with the consequences.
We caught up with Eric Flannum, Leader Designer, of inXile Entertainment in order to bring you some more juicy details regarding this humorous take on the RPG genre.
First we would like you to introduce yourself to our readers and tell them who you are, what other games have you worked on and what your involvement is in the development of the game?
My name is Eric Flannum, I am the Lead Designer on Bard's Tale. In the past I have worked on games such as Warcraft 2, Diablo, Starcraft, and Sacrifice, all for the computer.
For those who might not be completely familiar with the series, give us an overview of the franchise and explain why a ten year old series is revived by inXile.
The Bard's Tale series was originally published by Interplay and at the time offered an unprecedented amount of graphical polish and flash to the RPG genre. The Original games featured a party of adventurers and turn based combat which is a pretty far cry from the new Bard's Tale game. The big question then is why did we choose to use the name of Bard's Tale? Brian Fargo, who is the head honcho here at inXile was also one of the founders of Interplay and one of the original creators of the Bard's Tale series. Brian had always wanted to do a remake or continuation of the original game series and thought of no better way to start off his new company.
The plot is far different from most traditional RPGs. What is the basic premise of the game and exactly what type of RPG is it?
The basic premise of the game is that your main character, the Bard is a sort of wandering con-man and rogue. The first thing we see him do is conjure a rat to plague the local tavern so he can benefit by getting rid of it. The Bard is an anti-hero, he does things for purely selfish motivations, never really caring about the greater good. While trying to make his way in the world he of course gets mixed up in all sorts of adventures that he'd much rather avoid.
The game is an action RPG in much the same style as Dark Alliance or Champions of Norrath (in fact we use the Champions of Norrath engine) but whereas those games tend to focus on multi-player, we focus on the single player experience and try to bring as much character and humor into the genre as we possibly can.
Most RPGs are way too serious. Is this why you decided to put a different spin on the genre by having a heavy emphasis on humor?
Yes, we looked around and saw a ton of dead serious games dominating things and decided that instead of trying to beat them at their own game, we'd try to go the opposite route and develop a game with a lot of humor and character. In particular RPG's tend to take themselves very seriously and though we all love our RPG's here at inXile we thought we'd point out some of the sillier RPG conventions that just seemed ripe for parody.
We're loving humor, but what can you tell us about the ‘serious’ stuff? Outline how quests work, what type of characters and creatures we'll come across, etc.
Of course one of the things we knew is that we couldn't get by on just humor and character, we had to make a solid RPG as well. The Bard will meet a lot of different NPC's in the course of his travels, when one of them has a task for him, they will mark it in his quest journal. The quest journal acts like a "to do" list of heroic tasks and is divided between major quests and side quests. Quests can be anything from investigating the Bugbear problem in the local cairn to breaking every barrel that you come across (like you weren't going to do that anyways!)
The Bard will fight many dangerous and sometimes bizarre foes on his travels. From zombies that not only throw their heads at you but try to entangle you in their entrails to a group of very angry villagers (The Bard always seems to leave angry villagers in his wake) there is no shortage of battle to be had in the game.
With the enemy AI we tried to give them all relatively simple behaviors that combined well with each other to provide interesting combat situations. So for instance you might encounter that aforementioned group of zombies and one variety will pull of its head and throw it at you, while another will try to grab you with its entrails and pull itself towards you, a third type will attempt to get close to you and hurl the contents of its stomach (along with the stomach itself) at you.
What is the user interface like both for in-game action sequences and inventory/leveling-up functions?
The one thing we didn't want to emphasize in the game was really micromanagement oriented tasks such as juggling inventory (nothing wrong with inventory management it just didn't seem like the right way to go for us.) To that end we came up with an inventory system for the game that was very streamlined. Whenever the Bard picks up a new weapon it is either definitively better or worse than what he currently has. If it is better then we automatically equip it and if it is worse then we cash it in directly for silver. The same goes for random objects that the Bard finds such as wolf pelts, this way the player doesn't have to worry about making trips to the local shop every half hour.
Having a linear progression on the weapons meant that many of the choices a player is faced with in an RPG aren't there. There isn't a decision between equipping a flaming sword or an ice sword to battle certain enemies. Since choices like this are a fundamental part of the strategic layer in RPG's we offered up our version of it by having the Bard be able to use several different types of weapons each of which would replace the choices you would normally make in a game. For instance two handed swords upgrade to lightning damage, whereas bows gain fire damage. The Bard can easily and quickly switch between these weapons in combat so the player can choose to use different weapons in different strategic situations.
What can you tell us about the world in which The Bard's Tale takes place? How big is it? What types of environments will be seen?
The world consists of 14 areas each of which can consist of up to 6 individual levels. These areas are all strung together by a world map (complete with wandering monsters). During our final testing phases it would take a brand new tester an average of about 35 hours to play the game through.
We tried to vary the environments as much as we could while still providing the player with all of the standard RPG clichés that we could (all the better to make fun of!) You'll see things like frozen snowy rivers (complete with ice raft tour), haunted forests, Viking tombs, Magical fortresses, and of course the obligatory lava level.
We do know that The Bard's Tale features branching storylines and outcomes based on actions. How exactly does this work?
This works in a number of ways. One of the things we knew we wanted was consequences to your actions. One of the most immediate and easy to understand examples of this is a puppy that you meet very early in the game. You can choose to befriend the puppy in which case you have gained a traveling companion for the remainder of the game or be mean to him in which case you'll never see him again.
Another way in which this manifests is in the quests. We didn't want failure on a quest to result in the player having to restart the game. So for example we have an escort quest in which you are escorting this insane butcher around an undead infested town, if he dies very early in the quest then the Bard will be unable to enter the local store, if you manage to escort him even further a nice reward wait for you at the end. If you let the butcher die however the game still continues just along a slightly different path than before.
How was your experience working with actor Cary Elwes? What would you say was his biggest contribution to the game?
Cary was one of the nicest guys I have ever met. He really helped bring the Bard to life and was a terrific sport when it came to us trying to do different things with the character, we went through several iterations before we got something we were all happy with. With a game as dependent on humor as we are, it is obviously very important to have someone with a lot of comedic talent voicing the main character and Cary provided us with everything we needed and more in that department.
What differences can we expect to see in the Xbox version of The Bard's Take when compared to the PS2 and Computer versions?
The PS2 version and the Xbox version are probably the most similar of the three. The Xbox version features higher resolution textures as well as a slightly different control scheme to accommodate the Xbox controller. The Computer version is going to ship later so that we can really overhaul the interface and come up with something that doesn't feel like a shovelware port. Content wise the three games are identical.
Being there are so many RPGs these days, what would you say gamers (both fans of the old game and newbies) will appreciate the most when playing The Bard's Tale?
Hopefully people will remember the character and the humor of the game and appreciate a game that says “gaming should be fun!”
Lastly, will there be further adventures of The Bard? What about a sequel that adds multiplayer, whether it is offline or via Xbox Live?
I can't say much right now because everything is still confidential but it's safe to say that a sequel is something that we would love to do and the multiplayer aspect is a natural progression. After playing this game and getting to know the Bard we feel that gamers are going to be psyched to see him get entangled in more entertaining predicaments. I'm really excited by the possibilities. - By: César A. Berardini - October 14th, 2004