Computer RPG fans could scarcely have failed to encounter one of the three Bard's Tale games. They are just a couple of the many Dungeons and Dragons type of role-
Bard's Tale III is another of the "create a party and go and mash the monsters" RPG's, and while it's not the best in my opinion, it does have a fair amount going for it.
The quest is simple. The Mad God Tarjan is throwing his insane and somewhat humongous bulk around and not surprisingly the inhabitants of the various towns that he laid waste to and populated with evil are a little narked.
Ideally you're aiming to kick Tarjan's immortal butt out of the land but a good place to start is the local town of Skara Brae.
Players of either of the other Bard's Tale games will be able to directly port their existing character party into the latest sequel, so you can make the best use of the items of power that you fought so bravely for last time. New players should not let this put them off though because BTIII may be played by beginners to RPG's.
The screen display never changes. It's a series of windows with information on the party and its surroundings. To view a character you merely press a key and the stats are called up. Unfortunately this also calls up a picture of the character as well which takes some time.
According to the manual you can skip this by holding down SHIFT and pressing the number but this didn't seem to work. A shame, because it makes swapping of booty and checking of condition very tiresome.
Should the party meet a monster, a picture of it is displayed in the top left window. The name of the monster is told and you are given various options. You can attempt to run away, hide, or advance. If you have bowmen and spell
A commentary on what everything is doing and how much various people are hurt appears in the top right window.
Spells are cast by clicking with the mouse on the spell name and then pressing a key for the target. I did find the game somewhat confusing to control as the designers couldn't decide whether to plump for the keyboard or mouse as a form of control and have come to a compromise. This means switching between mouse and keyboard quite a lot and I found it awkward.
Rolling characters was also tricky. You have to select sex and race of the character and then a series of stats is chosen randomly and displayed. If these are acceptable (which they often aren't) you then press a key for class. If they are not you have to press escape and go through the whole process again. A system similar to other RPGs would be better, with a single key-press re-rolling statistics.