You begin your quest in some random town that exists as a small maze full of monsters. Then you head on over to the game’s only weapon shop, which only has the weakest of weapons available to you. From there, you can either visit the elders or visit a temple of healing. Either way, neither place is very useful until you actually fight some enemies.
Tediously fighting enemies is about all you do for the remainder of the game. Well, that and getting lost. A major part of the game involves wandering through ever growing mazes, where you constantly have to retrace your steps, use fresh torches, and eventually head back to the top because you no longer have enough magic points or health to make it to the end of the dungeon thanks to the annoying fights you must take part in about every three steps.
That was about as far as I had gotten in this article about a month ago. You see, I never finished this review—I missed that issue’s deadline. The process of playing The Bard’s Tale was so devastatingly boring that I was unable to finish the game, or even write much about it at all.
Even after the deadline passed and a new one came along, I was still at a loss when trying to come up with another game to review. The Bard’s Tale may have effectively killed my desire to play NES games.
On the other hand, I’m probably just making excuses. Sure, The Bard’s Tale isn’t a good game, but can one bad game really be so bad as to destroy one’s taste for videogames? I think it has a little more to do with the overall sense of being underwhelmed that is the inevitable outcome of videogaming.
Realistically, if you find yourself blown away by the digitized events in your electronic opiate of a gaming system, then you seriously need to re-examine your worldview. Get out of your damn house, and certainly take a step farther into oblivion by attempting to review these same infernal games on the eternal pit of despair that is the Internet. The thing with videogame reviews, especially retro-gaming reviews, is that they tend to be little more than an excuse for someone who has too much time on his hands to play old videogames. The act is sort of an attempt to legitimize the waste of time that retro gaming tends to be.
Retro gaming itself tends to be an exercise in futility. It functions the same way that other forms of nostalgia function, in that it serves as a focal point for those who are hesitant to look in the other direction. Basically, nostalgia appeals to those who are fearful of the future. The future is unknown and uncontrollable, and so it intimidates some.
Actually, you what? Fuck this, I’m getting off point. The Bard’s Tale is yet another shitty NES game that couldn’t have taken much effort, and pales in comparison to other RPGs that came out for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
A majority of NES games are little more than the pixelated manifestation of pure mediocrity. A few are excellent, though more are painful. The Bard’s Tale most definitely ranks among the painful games. I haven’t decided whether or not I’ll be reviewing any more NES games next month.