Review – The Bard’s Tale ARPG: Remastered and Resnarkled (Switch)

The Bard’s Tale, a comical reboot of a classic 80’s franchise, was originally released in 2004 for the Playstation 2 and Xbox. I can’t say I played the game back when it was first released. I knew about it because of gaming magazines, but considering the tsunami of fantastic games released throughout the year, and the limited budget imposed by an eleven year old’s allowance, I was playing other titles instead during that period. It took me sixteen years to finally play the game, in a pseudo-remastered version now available on the Nintendo Switch. Time to see what the fuss was all about.

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The Bard and the narrator. The best bromance out there.

I say “pseudo-remaster” because The Bard’s Tale ARPG: Remastered and Resnarkled (yes, that’s the game’s name) doesn’t exactly look much better than its original release. In terms of remasters, it doesn’t even perform that much better than the previously released PS Vita version. Just like the recent port of Star Wars Episode I: Racer for the Switch, you’re getting an improved resolution, a slightly more stable framerate, and that’s basically it. Textures look mostly the same, lighting effects look mostly the same, and any cinematic cutscene included in here hasn’t been touched at all, looking gross on the Switch’s screen. I didn’t even dare to play these cutscenes on a larger screen.

What really makes the game so endearing, even for today’s standards, isn’t its Baldur’s Gate Dark Alliance-inspired, gameplay. That being said, it is functional and features some neat elements such as using a lute to summon allies.¬† However, it’s hindered by a confusing camera system. The real selling point in The Bard’s Tale is its sense of humor.

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This game features the widest assortment of gentle characters.

This is basically the closest to a Princess Bride game that has ever been developed. Even to the point where it features constant fourth-wall breaks between the protagonist and the narrator, as well as the fact that the titular, Bard, is voiced by none other than Cary Elwes himself. Add in an extra layer of sarcasm that was clearly influenced by the at-the-time revolutionary concept of Shrek, and you get the perfect parody of medieval stories and RPG tropes. The Bard isn’t a hero, he’s just a sleazebag seeking for fame, fortune, and fornication.

The dialogue exchanges between the Bard and the narrator are, in my opinion, the best thing about The Bard’s Tale. The narrator was voiced by the late Tony Jay. This means that your journey is basically narrated by a reluctant Judge Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, being disgusted at the fact that he has to talk about the Bard’s insatiable quest for “coin and cleavage”. I never thought I’d ever hear Frollo saying the word “cleavage”, yet here we are. It took me sixteen years to finally witness this. My life is now complete.

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Oh yes, this is still an action RPG, and its gameplay isn’t half-bad, albeit somewhat simplistic.

Be advised that The Bard’s Tale has aged in more ways than one, especially in the visual department, but it’s still quite unique due to its fourth wall-breaking premise and hilarious performances by Cary Elwes and Tony Jay. It’s a simple action RPG with a straightforward gameplay loop that is a perfect fit for a portable system like the Switch. It’s also the closest to a Princess Bride game you’ll ever get, so if you’re a fan of the movie, don’t even think twice.

 

Graphics: 5.0

It runs fine and at a very high framerate and its environments are well varied, but this game has aged pretty poorly in its graphical department.

Gameplay: 6.5

The combat is passable, the summoning system is really interesting, and the aforementioned framerate is excellent, but this game suffers from one of the clunkiest top-down camera perspectives I have ever seen.

Sound: 9.0

One thing that has aged well in The Bard’s Tale is its sound department. The soundtrack still holds up, and the all-star voice acting is still as hilarious as it was back in the day.

Fun Factor: 7.5

The Bard’s Tale is a game that still holds up due to its fantastic sense of humor and the fact its simple gameplay is a perfect fit for a portable system like the Switch, despite clearly showing signs of age.

Final Verdict: 7.0

The Bard’s Tale ARPG: Remastered and Resnarkled¬† is available now on PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of The Bard’s Tale ARPG: Remastered and Resnarkled was provided by the publisher.