The Bard’s Tale (Apple II) – Video Game Years 1985

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A look at The Bard’s Tale, the computer RPG first released in 1985.
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Tales of the Unknown: Volume I, better known by its subtitle The Bard’s Tale, is a fantasy role-playing video game created by Interplay Productions in 1985 and distributed by Electronic Arts. It was designed and programmed by Michael Cranford.

Based loosely on traditional Dungeons & Dragons gameplay and inspired by the Wizardry computer games, The Bard’s Tale was noteworthy for its unprecedented 3D graphics and partly animated character portraits. The Bard was also an innovation: “The Bard was author Michael Cranford’s contribution to the genre, a character who casts spells by singing one of six tunes.”
It was originally released for the Apple II, and was also ported to the Commodore 64, Apple IIgs, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, DOS, Apple Macintosh, and NES platforms.


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  1. I had this on the Apple IIc, I'm bummed I lost the album/box over the years. If I had my original I would probably have it framed on my wall right now.

  2. In my thoughts and in my dreams, they're always in my miiiiiiiiiiiiind! These songs of hobbits, dwarves and men. And elves come close your eyeeeeees! You can seeeeee theeeeeem tooooooo!!!

  3. I played the heck out of this game on my C64, this and Pool of Radiance. I would use D&D graphing paper for map making. I remember once losing the code wheel and had to barrow my friends. I actually carefully dismantled his and managed to make an exact copy of it with poster board. If you lost your code wheel then you're up shit's creek.

  4. Just played through the NES version a couple weeks ago and I must say I was bored as usual. When it comes to that old school first person perspective where everything looks the same, that's where I draw the line. I can handle JRPGs, but not the kind like this and Wizardy, Ulitima, and AD&D Pool Of Radiance. Swords & Serpents wasn't that bad though, because you didn't have to grind like a motherfucker to level up or get gold. I'll never understand why grinding was and still is the standard, who thought of that shit?! Grinding feels like mind-numbing work on an assembly line.

  5. My favorite series growing up. Still have all 3 games for the Apple and IBM. Hated the Bard though, tried him, retired him. 2 Monks, a Hunter, and 3 ArchMages. 🙂

  6. I like this series a lot. I love that you can recruit and summon monsters and let them stay in the inn if you want, to keep them around! The spells are also awesome, as well as the class and monster portraits.

  7. My mom and I used to play this when I was a maybe 3 or 4. It's one of my first memories! We totally had graph paper to keep track, and we'd each take turns naming characters. You could always tell which one's my mom named and which ones I named. Our guild was always something like "Lana, Poop, Althean, Fart, Dugland, and Buttface"

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