In a turn of events that led me from present to past to future, The Bard’s Tale IV has unwittingly taken me down a path rife with fond gaming memories. Video games have been a part of my life throughout childhood and to include the life I lead as a grown boy today. Until recently, however, I chose to ignore one type of video gaming – the computer game. Ever since I had a Commodore 64, I recall having fun with the flashing lights and digital sounds. The control that came with gameplay hooked me when I was around five years old, and speaking of hooked – my first video game was Odell Lake. I was lucky that my parents got me that system, actually. It kept my youthful attention until a friend got a Nintendo Entertainment System. Once I visited the Mushroom Kingdom, my Commodore 64 seemed to have gotten left behind. Little did I know at the time (I really did know little then), the original The Bard’s Tale was released a year before and The Bard’s Tale II: The Destiny Knight that year, and The Bard’s Tale III: Thief of Fate just two years later. A setting of Skara Brae and surrounding lands laid in wait.
The second time I tried my hand at computer gaming, was when my parents got a new PC. It was a good Windows 95 computer, that my mom bought to help with taxes. I asked to mess around with it, and after having fun with Hover!, I asked for a PC game for Christmas. Here is where my time with computer gaming and I part ways. See, I hadn’t done much with a computer firsthand. I sat with my friend before as we explored bulletin board systems, playing Legend of the Red Dragon and Usurper. That friend also had Battle Chess, which I will get to later. But I had not played a video game on computer in quite some time, and I had just been given a cool PC game as a gift. I read about how to install a DOS game onto the computer, and installed Dark Sun: Shattered Lands on the computer. Instead of creating a drive for the game in the computer, however, I somehow designated the entire computer to just play my game. I recall having fun with the game, but my brief second entry into computer gaming ended once my mom turned the computer on later to work on taxes. My error had to be corrected by a visit from a technician. Dark and shattered, indeed.
By this time, I had been set in my console gaming ways. The NES had dominated my time with the household TV when M*A*S*H and Cheers weren’t on, and aside from the bump in the PC gaming road, the SNES later provided my video game entertainment. Looking into the timeline of The Bard’s Tale games and those involved, I realized something. Someone involved in their creations was responsible for other games I enjoyed very much. The Lost Vikings and Clay Fighter are two games I had for the SNES that I admired for their quirky humor. Click those links if you sadly do not know of these great games. If you are aware, but only remember them for what they were, take a look at the recent and upcoming appearances of The Lost Vikings and Clay Fighter, respectively. That someone, involved in the creation of these, was involved in many others.
So – my SNES was traded upon the arrival of the Nintendo 64, which was later traded for the GameCube. The Bard’s Tale was released in 2004, this time as an action adventure game on the PlayStation 2. I never owned a PS2. When the Wii came around is when I decided to take the path of Sony with a PlayStation 3. Missing out on The Bard’s Tale, this lone gamer also did not try the “co-op at heart” PS3 game Hunted: The Demon’s Forge. These games were developed by inXile Entertainment, that I learned this year was founded by – Brian Fargo. The man involved in games since the Tales of the Unknown: Vol 1 – The Bard’s Tale on Commodore 64, to games like Battle Chess on PC and NES, Fallout, the two quirky SNES games mentioned above, and upcoming games Torment: Tides of Numenera and The Bard’s Tale IV. How did I realize all of this? Of all things, I started this quest by finding The Bard’s Tale on Amazon Fire TV. A Wii U is now monopolized by my kids in the back room, and I was curious about a game I found on my new media device for the front room. I looked into The Bard’s Tale and was led to this wonderful rediscovery of my gaming roots. The developer is now working on The Bard’s Tale IV. This game, I’ve decided, will be what brings me back to computer gaming. Looking into other games mentioned in the successful Kickstarter campaign for The Bard’s Tale IV, you will see Baldur’s Gate, Fallout, Wasteland. These are games I’ve heard of as I grew up gaming, that now lend weight to the scale in favor of the computer. Wasteland 2, (also a success on Kickstarter), shows how capable inXile is of tugging me by the hand and pointing toward the path I left over a decade and at first twenty years ago.
With the developer hard at work on The Bard’s Tale IV, I look at how computer gaming introduced me to my video gaming interest. I see those making computer games who were responsible for console games that I still hold in high regard. And I see a bard, whose presence has been around all this time. I’m looking at you, The Bard’s Tale IV. Discovering you led me down a path that brought renewed admiration for gaming. If you’re reading this and are like me and unfortunately didn’t backed their Kickstarter – you’re in luck! You can pre-order the upcoming game on the website now. Scour the progress from their Kickstarter campaign to the ongoing updates on the aforementioned site, and you’ll find yourself as a gamer salivating akin to someone stepping into a pizza parlor tossing and catching with experience. Gaming has gone in many directions over the years. I’ve had a great run with where I’ve followed it. Getting on board with The Bard’s Tale feels somehow familiar and excited for the future.