Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Midweek Music Box: The Bard's Tale (2005)

The So-Called"Hero"

Normally with Midweek Music Box, I like to do a bit of analysis on the music and why I think it works (or doesn't work) so well.  However, with the 2004 iteration of The Bard's Tale I just wanted to do a little trip down memory lane.  At the time when this game came out, I was uncertain about how well I'd like it.  I had just finished Baldur's Gate and was enjoying the style of the game, but wanted something a bit lighter in spirit. What I was expecting from Bard's Tale was a Baldur's Gate clone with a few goofy jokes here and there to break things up and give the game a bit of humor. So when the opening strands played as I started the game, it seemed like typical medieval period music with lute and flute and an occasional simple drum.  Little did I know that the simple tune actually had lyrics funny and dark--but we'll get to that later.

"The Bard's Tale Main Theme"

So as I played, one of the first things that happened was the typical "go in to the inn and fight off a cellar full of rats" fare. Only, it seemed that the patrons were singing....

"Beer, Beer, Beer..."

There was a happy bouncing ball which made it so I could even sing along should I choose to do so. Of course it was a delight just to follow along with the song and drunken revelry. It was a fun twist on the genre, and helped set the tone of the game. I thought that was it for the singing and it was just a fun little thing to highlight the different nature of the game. How glad was I that this wasn't the only song of the game.  A short while later while fighting a forest, I got to see an idiot trying to be a "chosen one" take arrow to the head. The cut scene was funny enough with the would-be-hero dying like an idiot, but that was just the beginning:

"Bad Luck to be You (part 1)"

The oompa loompas themselves couldn't have done a better job, or made me laugh harder, or have a song quite as memorable. I was laughing, and delighted because I realized that the game was likely littered with these gems, and it was. Hours of gameplay, countless "Bad Luck to Be You" songs, and hundreds of snarky comments later I finally came to a village overrun by vikings ready to sing about the fame of the Bard and the "help" he gave them:

"Here's to the Bard"

It was laugh-out-loud funny, the simple song at the beginning took on an all new meaning. I'd already been enjoying the songs along the way, and if I hadn't already thought that these songs would stick with me for years, this one sealed the deal. I don't know why this one in particular grabbed me, maybe because it, like many of the songs are just so darn perfect both in humor, tone, and composition.

Of course it's well worth playing through the game itself, even if it inevitably falls to the tropes it tries to lampoon, but the real gold, the real treasure come from the music and lyrics co-written by Tommy Tallarico, Clint Bajakian, and Jared Emerson-Johnson. The music is well worth a download to your ipod or other musical device, at least, it's worth it if you enjoy a good laugh. 

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