Now playing: The Bard’s Tale II – The Destiny Knight

First, sorry for not writing here for a long time. Some big career changes happened (whether good or bad, the jury is still out, but I’m mostly optimistic), and I haven’t had quite a lot of free time, though I hope that’ll improve in the future. With that out of the way…

Bard's Tale II - dungeon
My current party; all are level 10 at the moment

… here is what I’ve been doing with some of what little free time I have: playing an 80s game I never actually played back then. The game is The Bard’s Tale II : The Destiny Knight (whew!), which I’m playing using an Amiga emulator. This is not actually the very best version, a title which belongs to the Apple IIGS port, but as I plan to move my party to Bard’s Tale III after I beat this game, and there’s no III port for the IIGS, I had to pick the (arguably) second best version.

As I said, I never actually played BT2 back in the 80s. Though I did play, and love, the first Bard’s Tale, first on the ZX Spectrum (on cassette!), then on the PC. As you can see, it looks mostly the same:

The Bard's Tale 1 - ZX Spectrum
My first contact with an American-style CRPG ever

Anyway, I missed games like this. It’s really hard, with no hand holding, and grinding is a big part of the game. I actually like the fact that you can, at the very beginning of the game, go to dungeons or other places where the very first encounter will kill you (Bethesda, take note: scaling enemies to the player’s level sucks). And the dungeons seem designed by a sadist: lots of non-euclidean mazes (think going a step north and then a step south necessarily leaves you where you started? think again), permanent darkness zones, anti-magic zones, teleporters, spinners (they turn you around, which can be very confusing if you don’t have a magic compass, or even if you simply fail to notice it). Did I mention that there’s also no such thing as auto-mapping?

Anyway, I’m enjoying the game a lot. Yes, the graphics and sound are primitive, even for its time, and the game is little more than a grind-fest full of random encounters and dungeons that seem designed just to make your life miserable. On the other hand, there’s a strange pleasure in seeing your characters, which you nurtured since they were level 1 newbies, get stronger and stronger, and be able to face ever tougher challenges. Also, since it’s turn-based, and playable in an emulator window, it’s perfect for playing everywhere, at any time.

Tip 1: all of the Bard’s Tale versions are available for download at I recommend either the Commodore 64 or Amiga versions (or, if you don’t care about exporting your party to Bard’s Tale III, the Apple IIGS versions of the first two games).

Tip 2: having your emulator folder on Dropbox makes it easy to continue your game wherever you are (home, work, even at a friend’s).

2 thoughts on “Now playing: The Bard’s Tale II – The Destiny Knight”

  1. Nice read .. I have just completed tales of the unknown amstrad version on my laptop .. I have been looking for the second part but can not find anywhere – where I can download the game .. Its a shame .. I would love to move my team over of course because once i completed the game I have members at level 39 ect .. I guess I will have to play the 64 version 🙁 .. But after being hooked on this game and time and time playing it 15 years trying ( of course not completly, I mean I may not have played it for 10 years ) But finally finished it ..

  2. I am a huge Commodore fan. I am going to play the first one on my c64 when I finish Ultima. I always think the apple is way overrated. For starters it has only a beeper for sound, and the color is awful compared to almost any other 8 bit system, and the stock memory capacity is significantly smaller. I think it is just rose tinted glasses personally that makes people like old apple 2s. C64 by contrast has SID sound(full 9 octave ASDR envelope) and very capable graphics(for an 8 bit system) comparable to the much later IBM EGA in looks(if not better in the right hands). Plus, it got ports of games that most other 8 bits didn’t due to it’s unique hackable chipset and massive user base & popularity which makes it a great go to system for retro games. Still, not all games took advantage of the SID if they were ported. Ultima I was ported from the Apple 2 to Commodore 64…and they left in the terrible beeping sounds and spartan graphics. Shameful. Oh well. Origin did remedy this in their later releases on the platform…and has the unique boast of having Ultima IV remastered!

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