Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Shut Up And Take My Money: Yet More Classic RPG Series Reboots

Posted by Rampant Coyote on January 26, 2015

I have faith. Proven teams & talent. The IPs… maybe a little less so, mainly because it’s been so long. But if the success of Wasteland 2 or Might & Magic X: Legacy are any indication, a committed team dedicated to classic old-school games can create worthy successors. Now we have two more classic RPGs that will soon have crowdfunding campaigns for their triumphant return.

I have a tough time containing myself. This is the kind of thing that seemed like an impossible dream ten years ago.

Underworld-Ascendant---DwarFirst up: Some of the original Looking Glass folks putting together the new Ultima Underworld, sans the “Ultima” part but otherwise very much the third in the series (the second one was more tightly tied to the Ultima IP – it was just tacked on at the end in the original). The Kickstarter begins February 4th. I can’t be part of this fast enough, if only in a very peripheral way.

Underworld Ascendant by Otherside Entertainment

Ultima Underworld was one of the “holy trinity” of games that came out at around the same time from Origin that made me decide to try a career in game development. The other two, naturally enough, were Ultima 7 and Wing Commander (well, really, Wing Commander II). It is one of my all-time favorite games and my favorite RPGs. I feel in some ways, it still hasn’t been matched / exceeded, and I’m really thrilled to see what Paul Neurath and company have planned for this new title.

And then, hot on the heels of this game having a Kickstarter launch date, Brian Fargo made the announcement I’ve been kinda waiting for over the last few weeks:


Yes, I’ve been expecting this one. They’ve had the license for The Bard’s Tale forever, and many of us were disappointed when inXile released the comedy game by the same name several years back (which actually wasn’t a bad game, IMO… just unhappy that it was called “The Bard’s Tale“). I can’t say that the original games were really that influential on me. The best thing about them was Tales of the Unknown Volume I: The Bard’s Tale (the real title… it was supposed to be the “Tales of the Unknown” series, but that didn’t stick) that they beat Wizardry I to release on the Commodore 64. I had been anxiously waiting the chance to play Wizardry I on my own computer – which never actually happened back then – and then a friend tells me all about this awesome new game that was “just like Wizardry, only better!”

And sure enough, graphically, he was right…  it was clearly superior. The dungeons and city streets were kinda-sorta “textured,” and the enemy encounters were partly animated. It took me forever to make a party strong enough to walk around the city streets without dying, however.  I wondered what kind of game designer made it so your party of adventurers can’t go outside their front door without getting slaughtered.

Still, it was a fun game, and though I never completed it (and probably never will), it was a pretty influential title for me back in the day. Anyway, there’s more news on it here:

IGN: Brian Fargo Announces First Bard’s Tale Sequel in 27 Years

Actually, they have the date wrong – the original game came out around 30 years ago. Dunno where 1988 came from – I think that was when Wasteland 1 released. Anyway, doesn’t matter. Bottom line: Dungeon crawling, pulling from the original for ideas, and some interesting ideas for non-traditional but still turn-based combat.

I’m in.

Filed Under: Game Announcements - Comments: 3 Comments to Read

  • Andy_Panthro said,

    I must confess to never having played any of the Bard’s Tale games. I know so very little about them really.

    Ultima Underworld on the other hand, is an absolute classic and I will certainly be backing Ascendant. I have high hopes though, I hope they can live up to them!

    Interestingly, the Underworld Ascendant main title on their page has the subtitle “Depths awaken” in Britannian runes. Doesn’t really mean much at this point I suppose, but reminds me of Moria in Lord of the Rings: “Moria! Moria! Wonder of the Northern world. Too deep we delved there, and woke the nameless fear.”

  • Kyle Haight said,

    I’ll very likely be backing both of these.

    As I recall, back in the day we used to describe the original Bard’s Tale as “like Wizardry, only more so”. More classes, more spells, more items, more levels, more monsters, more tricks and traps… just more, across the board.

    Beating Bards Tale II is one of my proudest accomplishments as a gamer. That thing was murderously difficult, bordering on actively malicious. I’m honestly not sure I have the persistence to beat a game that hard now — but I look forward to finding out.

  • Anon said,

    The one thing I liked about the original Bard’s Tale was the 3D window into the game world. The Amiga version even had some animation when walking from one “tile” to another.
    I didn’t like the combat sequences at all, though, as the enemy animation was pointless and everything was text-based. It was more like a radio transmission than a computer game.
    While friend of mine and myself played through most levels of the first game but I never really got “the fever”. For me it was an exercise in futility: Why should I traverse all those pesky areas, teleporters, fight enemies?

    In other words: What I lacked was plot and plot development – even a small dose of it.

    And here comes Underworld with all that – and the later called “micro stories” where one finds stuff on a corpse telling the story how he died.
    Underworld has NPCs and dialogues, a usuable rune magic system (not perfect, but usable), real-time combat with “really” attacking enemies and of course a then phenomenal game world rendered in 3D with slopes, water streams, bridges (though they tricked a lot with that) etc.
    I though the first Underworld was so good (and I was hoping for something like this since Dungeon Master) that I got the second one instantly after it was published. It was more polished, had a bigger 3D window, more animation and was certainly a bit more varied – but ultimately (heh!) I liked the first game better. It was darker, had none of that awkward Ultima tie-in stuff in it and was a bit more Tolkien which I was very fond of at the time (Andy’s comment about Moria is spot on – so much that I was disappointed about the Moria in the first LotR movie!).

    Of course I’m waiting for a new Underworld now – and it’s a good thing, IMHO, if it’s not connected to the Ultima franchise (as much as I love the old 2D Ultimas).