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The Bard's Tale: Tales of the Unknown (NES)

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Title Screen

The Bard's Tale: Tales of the Unknown

Developer: Atelier Double
Publishers: FCI (US), Pony Canyon (JP)
Platform: NES
Released in JP: December 21, 1990
Released in US: November 1991

SoundtestIcon.png This game has a hidden sound test.

To do:
Regional differences: JPN version ROM is twice the size as the US version, there are a LOT of differences

Unused Doll Monster

Bard's Tale, The (USA) Hydradoll.pngBard's Tale, The (USA) Xorn.png

A mechanic allows Wizards to turn enemies into doll items, which can then be used to summon a monster as an extra party member.

There is an unused Hydradoll item (ID number 56) which can be used to summon Xorn as a party member, however all its stats appear to be 0 and all it does in combat is a physical attack which misses even against the weakest enemies.

Hydra is a late game enemy which was cut from the US release. In the Japanese version the doll works as intended to summon him and he boasts an impressive 800 HP with 8 AC. Even the name of the enemy was cut from the US release which is why the companion uses the next name in the line: Xorn, which is another cut enemy but which name remained in the game.

Regional Differences

For the US release a ROM of half the size was used. As a result, a lot of content was taken out or changed.

Cacti speak Japanese.
...But what does it mean?
This game has text or audio that needs to be translated. If you are fluent with this language, please read our translation guidelines and then submit a translation!


  • A lot of graphics were cut: most dungeons use different art in the JPN version, but it is all the same in the US release. Also, in the JPN version there are 3 different graphics for the bars around town, but only 1 in the US release. In the first dungeon the party is looking for wine ("grape juice" in the US version), in the JPN it is possible to find "cheap wine" and drink it to restore HP, which was cut from the US release. The gates and many locations around Skara Brae re-use the same graphics in the US version. In the Catacomb there is an optional scene with a hidden Vampire boss which was cut from the US release. On the first floor of the Castle there is a small outdoor court in the JPN, the graphical scene for it was cut and thus the area appears to be like the rest of the castle in the US release (the Dragon mini boss inside that court was also cut). etc
  • In the JPN version there are 86 enemies using 85 different art (only Doppler and Mimic re-use the same graphics). In the US version there are only 68 enemies and about 40 of those enemies re-use the art from another enemy with a different palette, rather than having their own graphics. This number includes 3 cut bosses: 2 optional ones, and one of the bosses before Mangar. As a result Mangar himself was made stronger.
  • The character portraits used when creating characters or looking at their status were cut, so was the dark warrior portrait used when engaging party combat, only leaving a pitch black screen. The graphic of a sword in front of a grave when a character is dead and when the party is defeated was also cut.

Music & Sounds

  • Most of the musics are different.
  • In the JPN version there are two battle musics: the regular one, and one specifically for the final boss. The US version uses the final boss music for all battles.
  • Steps sounds were cut.


This introduction from the Japanese version was cut for the US release.

Bard's Tale NES (Japan) intro-1.png
Bard's Tale NES (Japan) intro-2.png

Sound Test

The Japanese version contains a sound test that can be accessed by holding Up + B + Start and then pressing Select on the title screen. The Katakana string here "サウンド テスト" literally means "SOUND TEST".

Bard's Tale Sound Test.png

Mangar's Tower


The entrance to Mangar's Tower is different between regions. Indeed, the US version re-uses the graphics of the icy gate meant for the west exit of the town for many other locations.

Japan US
Bardstale nes mangar tower-1.png Bardstale nes mangar tower-2.png


On the 3rd floor of the tower, you are supposed to place 4 marks on a wall. In the Japanese version there's a unique graphic for it, but in the US version you just see the regular dungeon wall.

Bard's Tale (Japan) nes mangar tower marks.png


In the Japanese version you fight the Demon Lord and the Lich before the last boss. In the US version you only fight the Demon Lord, however, he looks completely different as it recycles the graphics of the enemy named Demon.

Japan US
Bardstale nes mangar bosses-1.png
Bardstale nes mangar bosses-2.png
Bardstale nes mangar bosses-3.png

Mangar's Portrait

Before fighting Mangar, he talks with your for a bit. In the Japanese version, it shows a unique portrait for him. In the US version, it just shows the same battle sprite.

Bard's Tale (Japan) nes mangar portrait.png


The Japanese version has graphical scenes to accompany the credits. The US version just shows the credits on a plain black background.

Bard's Tale (Japan) nes credits-1.png Bard's Tale (Japan) nes credits-2.png

Bard's Tale (Japan) nes credits-3.png Bard's Tale (Japan) nes credits-4.png


The Japanese version has an epilogue after the credits.

Bard's Tale (Japan) nes epilogue.png


  • Some text was also cut. For instance in the JPN version there are several variants of the enemy "attacking" string, but only one for the US version. Similarly each dragon's breath attack has a different name in the JPN version, but were all turned into "fire breath" for the US version. When roaming around while the Bard is singing, a string prompts the player when the song ends in the JPN version. In the Japanese version, several enemies are able to "heal their wounds" during a fight, in the US version the only remaining enemies with that ability are the vampires and the text prompting their healing is gone.
  • There are some minor dungeon layout changes in Mangar's Tower.