I finished this the other day. I'm curious to know what other people thought of this game. I didn't think it was bad, although the dungeons are a little sparse on the interesting details, messages, etc. In terms of numbers of levels, there were almost as many as in the original game. There was one sewer level instead of three, but Kylearan's tower had two levels. Each level was small, though, and many had a lot of unused space on the grid.
My major complaint about this game is the sheer number of random encounters. You literally meet a monster every 2-3 steps, and running rarely works. This isn't a problem with computer speed (like it is with Thief of Fate), because the Ninteno emulation is actually rather slow. This is part of what made it frustrating, because you also couldn't blow through each combat in 10 seconds even if your characters were powerful. One of the bard's songs reduces the encounter frequency, but there are still too many of them. The only saving grace was the fact that you can use the emulator's save state feature, and never need to return to the adventurer's guild the entire game. If I was playing this on a real NES, I don't know what I would have done.
The monster graphics were somewhat uninspiring. I probably think this because I'm measuring them against the graphics of the 2nd-generation versions of Bard's Tale I (Amiga, Atari ST, Apple IIGS, DOS). A more fair comparison is with versions for Apple II, C64, Amistrad CPC, or (shudder) ZX Spectrum, and here I suppose the NES graphics hold up fairly well. None of the pictures were animated, though.
The game was quite difficult. This is in part because the maximum level your characters can achieve is 36, translating to about 500-600 HP per character. Some characters who started with lower vitality had about 300 HP. As you might imagine, this translated to a huge problem when you're fighting dragons and stuff that do 100-200 damage per blow. I confess that I had to use the Game Genie codes to give my characters infinite HP and MP, and it was still hard! The codes only work for combat, so an exploding chest can still take out a party if trap zap misfires (which it does with alarming frequency).
At any rate, the game is worth at least a try if you're a Bard's Tale fanatic. But if you're looking just to check it out and see what the dungeons and monsters are like, then save yourself a lot of trouble and use the Game Genie codes.
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