The Bard's Tale Construction Set. (computer game) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Alfred C. Giovetti
Boy, what I wouldn't have done to get this game several years ago when Bard's Tale was so popular and everyone had to wait a long, long time for a good game to come out! Several years back, Bard's Tale was the state of the art, the game that everyone interested in role-playing adventure games was playing. The new version of Bard's Tale is an updated version of the old classic, Bard's Tale I, with the twist that you can create your own dungeons.
With The Bard's Tale Construction Set, you can draw your own map and create your own spells, monsters, and artifacts, as well as features called specials. You can customize the dungeons and make them as hard or as easy as you like. When you're through creating and editing your new world, the game you create is a stand-alone game--a fully functional scenario of the original Bard's Tale that can be given to your friends to play. Finally, there is a role-playing adventure game on the computer that lets you play the dungeon master for your friends.
Editing artifacts allows you to determine the classes that can use an item, the name of the item, the type of weapon, the damage the weapon causes, the special damage or effects, the chance of hitting the enemy with the weapon (from 0 to 100 percent), the spell that can be cast by the item, the number of castings allowed (from 0 to an infinite number), and the descriptions of the use ("swings for") and effects ("slices the monster for . . . ") of the weapon. Monsters can be edited for type, level, hit points, and damage, among other things.
Spells can also be designed from the ground up, providing for the duration, the place the spell is cast for effect, the class that can use the spell, the spell level, the spell power used, the range, and the number of targets (one monster, one group of monsters, or all monsters). The map editor provides for a cursor selection of 30 types of specials per 22 x 22 grid map, including teleportation to other maps, so that adventures can be as large or as small as desired.
Creating your own specials allows you to ask a riddle, give a treasure, gain experience, give quests to the group, create traps, and determine treasure and power in the form of draining or restoring hit points, spell power, or health. The charm of the game is that as many of the specials as needed can be created. The riddles and mazes can be as hard or as easy as you like.
The new Bard's Tale version supports full VGA graphics, major sound boards, and a point-and-click interface. Unfortunately, sound effects are produced by the internal speaker, while the music is played through the sound boards. A separate paint program, such as DeluxePaint, must be used to produce up to 45 monster and character pictures per game. The documentation is brief and sometimes confusing, and the mazes require considerable work, planning, and play testing before they can be explored. Once they're finished, though, you have a complete game that can be shared with fellow adventurers and monsters alike.
The Bard's Tale Construction Set is a very easy-to-use and well-thought-out dungeon generator from the people who brought you the original record-busting Bard's Tale series. Interplay has employed its considerable expertise in role-playing games and produced a real winner of a game. ALFRED C. GIOVETTI
IBM PC and compatibles; CGA, EGA, MCGA, or VGA; color monitor; hard drive and high-density floppy drive recommended; supports Microsoft mouse; supports Ad Lib, Sound Blaster, Pro-Audio Spectrum, Roland, and Tandy sound-$49.95
INTERPLAY PRODUCTIONS 3710 S. Susan St., Ste. 100 Santa Ana, CA 92704 (800) 969-GAME
Circle Reader Service Number 376