Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King is reminiscent to the old style Zelda games of the SNES and NES eras, and the story seems to borrow/pay homage to some of the great fantasy classics, too.
I’m a huge fan of the classic 2D Zelda formula, and Blossom Tales undoubtedly takes that formula and runs with it. It’s one thing to use a template from a classic game that everyone loves, but it’s another thing to successfully capture what made it so beloved in the first place.
The story of Blossom Tales opens with two young children asking their grandfather to tell them a story. At first, he starts to tell us a story that sounds a lot like Zelda, until the kids complain that they’ve already heard that story and that they would like to hear a new one. Their grandfather then begins telling them a story of a young girl named Lily, our young hero, is sent out into the world to gather the ingredients for a potion to awaken/heal her ailing king and save the kingdom from the king’s evil brother. There are also moments where the two children will argue over what they think should happen next, so their grandfather gives the player the opportunity to choose. One such example is early on in the game, where the two children argue over whether Lily should be fighting against pirates or ninjas. I really liked these moments even if none of the choices have an actual impact on the overall story.
Possibly the best part of Blossom Tales to me was its music. So much of it was stuck in my head throughout the past few days, most notably the track from the town you start off in, as well as the cave theme and first dungeon theme and the town of druids theme which has a play on Zelda’s Lullaby to it . All of it sounds like classic 8/16 bit music, which manages to capture what made those classic tunes so memorable in the first place. These are definitely some tunes I will be coming back to repeatedly in the future.
When it comes to its gameplay, Blossom Tales feels a lot like a traditional Zelda experience, specifically A Link to the Past and Link’s Awakening. You’ll explore a decently sized world, exploring all sorts of secret caves to find four heart pieces and increase your maximum health. In addition to heart pieces, you can also collect four special green crystals to increase your magic power. Finding these items scattered throughout the overworld isn’t too difficult. As long as you actually explore each section of the map, you more than likely will not have a problem finding where these upgrades are located. Once you actually do find them, you’ll usually have to solve a fairly easy puzzle. If you’ve played any of the conventional 2D Zelda games, that’s essentially what you’re getting as far as gameplay is concerned, but the general feel of the graphics and the map remind me a lot of Link to the Past. You start with a sword and shield and get various extra tools, all of which you have three slots to equip in. There are various secrets to find and quests to undertake, and dungeons which mix combat and puzzle-solving. So far I have bombs and a bow and arrow from the first and second dungeons respectively. They’re generally used for what you’d expect: if you see a crack in the wall you select the bombs, if you see a bulls-eye or a faraway switch you pick the bow.
Instead of having ammo for stuff that would take it and a magic bar for everything else though, like Link to the Past did, Blossom Tales has them all use up an energy bar. I feel like they were thinking that way you wouldn’t run out of bombs, arrows and whatnot and have to go grind more – the first boss required using two things that would have taken ammo in a Zelda game, and maybe him dropping items was tricky to code. But having everything take energy from one source means a lot of the time I found myself standing around waiting for it to recharge, since there were a lot of puzzles that needed your items. On the flipside though, this does mean you can freely use them on normal enemies without worrying about needing ammo later, which is more interesting than just using your sword. You can also find extensions to the bar, much like you can your health.
There is a total of 5 dungeons in Blossom Tales, one of which is a short tutorial. The remaining four dungeons are fairly straightforward and linear, but they are fun to traverse through. Each dungeon has its own specific visual theme, ranging from forests to fiery caverns. Despite being fairly straightforward, each dungeon still takes a good amount of time to complete thanks to their length. Each dungeon also has a mini boss and a major boss. They usually take around 45 minutes to an hour to get through. Thankfully, the developers placed teleporters at both the halfway point and before the boss fight to reduce back tracking in case of death or restocking items. I do wish there were more dungeons, as I really did have fun exploring them, but what’s here is solid. The boss fights themselves are pretty fun, but not too challenging. The bosses take a fair amount of hits to defeat, and they often can be defeated by just trading blows with them, since the game is very generous with its distribution of healing potions and auto revive items. The bosses are really fun to fight. I think my favorite boss fight was against a giant rock golem with two arms. You’ll need to dodge around falling rocks, eye lasers, and his hands until he opens his mouth. Once his mouth is open, you can throw your bombs inside it, and then quickly shoot an arrow at his exposed forehead.
Visually, the game is very pretty and colorful. The pixel art style is well defined, while nice lighting and shading help make environments look more detailed, interesting, and fun to explore. Level design itself is also strong, creating some nice and varied locations around the world. These areas include lush forests, snow covered mountains full of graveyards and zombies, and much more. Visual design is one of Blossom Tales biggest strengths.
Overall I’ve had some fun with Blossom Tales. It’s unabashedly Zelda, but I found it a good recreation, one with tons of effort put into it. If you’re looking for something new in that also manages to capture what made the series so beloved in the first place then Blossom Tales is your game. It may not be a very long game, clocking in at about 8 and a half hours for me, but the entire ride was a light-hearted blast. For only 14.99, it’s really hard to not recommend Blossom Tales, as it’s absolutely worth your time and money and gets the Kasanova Seal of Approval!