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Electronic Arts/Interplay, Amiga 24.95

Bard's Tale 2 I know some really good words (slimegobbet, snotglobule, greasebum, cockaleekee... er...) but how about shouting 'death and drek' next time you have got a goblin by the throat? Brill, eh? You can do it all the time if you play Bard's Tale II. I really like those olde worlde expressions it appeals to my intellectual soul. Death and drek, death and drek, death and drek... Now, pull your fingers out of your noses and try to cast your mind back to Bard's Tale I. Remember liberating Skara Brae? Well now, instead of enjoying your well-earned rest billy-goat hunting, you are supposed to be doing the same for Tangramayne. Some evil geezer called Lagoth Zanta has stolen the peace-keeping Destiny Wand, broken it into seven pieces and hidden the different parts in the middle of a Snare of Death (dungeon puzzle room to you, idiot).

As usual you can make a team of up to seven grade 1 (i.e. puny) adventurers including a bard (not that he sings any real music not one David Cassidy hit) or use a team saved from Bard's Tale I. As they hack their way through more and more villains (luckily for Interplay, I didn't find any trolls or there would have been trouble) their experience points increase and they gradually improve their character ratings.

Bard's Tale 2 The playing area is about twice the size of the original game, with extra dungeons, six cities, castles and forests to explore, but what really distinguishes this tale from its predecessor is the addition of the puzzle element to all the usual hack 'n' slay. Using the mouse (much easier than all that key pressing) you can spend ages lumbering around discovering secret magic portals, casting spells, rescuing princesses, using teleport systems and generally leaving your slimey pawprints on the environment. People with an above average IQ like mine should enjoy all these extras anyone else should cover themselves with tabasco sauce and jump off the nearest bridge.

If you are stupid enough to let one of your party die, then you can always try paying for a resurrection at the nearest temple. On the other hand, you could always save your money and blow it all at Garth's Equipment Shoppe he does have a very nice line in daggers...

Considering they are confined to the top left hand corner of the screen, the graphics are pretty impressive. Most of the villains and monsters are animated, there is plenty of colour and a flame actually appears when torches are lit. Not bad, huh? I bet you think they could have done a lot with the sound as well, don't you? Well, you are absolutely wrong because apart from a medieval title dirge there isn't any. Nope, not a single smidgeon, a squeak or a squirt anywhere. I had to put on my MUD greatest hits LP just to cheer me up.

The Bard's Tale II is probably the best role-playing game you can get so far for the Amiga. It is very well-presented and a lot more challenging than The Bard's Tale I and while the plans for an Amiga version of Dungeon Master have been shelved, probably the only game that will improve on it is The Bard's Tale III. So loaf on down to your nearest Amiga stockist and get it.
(Reviewed by Chuck Vomit (Fictional Gnome dreamed up by the Zzap! Crew))

Zzap! Issue 43, November 1988, p.34