By Ashley Ring / May 9th, 2017
|Title||Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King|
|Developer||Castle Pixel, LLC|
|Release Date||March 28, 2017|
When I first laid eyes on Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King I knew it would be something that I wanted to play. 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. Does Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King manage to successfully execute the formula that I love, or is it just another attempt to cash in on nostalgia?
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, who overslept and is late to her own Knighting ceremony. Once she finally arrives at her ceremony, she is knighted by her king, but right before anyone can celebrate, the king’s evil brother Crocus puts the king into a deep slumber that he won’t awaken from. It’s now up to the young knight Lily to go on a quest to 4 different shrines and collect the items necessary to wake the king.
The story itself is simple and enjoyable. It’s a fun experience that’s always pointing you in the right direction. The fact that it’s told by a grandfather to his grandchildren is a nice touch, and the developers have some creative fun with that. Every now and then, the children will interrupt their grandfather’s storytelling to complain that they think “oh that was too easy for Lily!” and the grandfather will either add more to what’s going on such as adding a ton more enemies to fight, or make puzzles more difficult to solve.
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. Unfortunately, there aren’t as many of these moments in the game as I would have liked. I can only remember two or three instances where you are given a choice of what happens next, which felt to me like a missed opportunity.
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.
The puzzles in Blossom Tales are fairly simple for the most part, and unfortunately are often repeated throughout dungeons and hidden caves. The two puzzles that stuck out the most to me were the floor tile puzzles and the sound mimic puzzles. Most of the time you’ll be walking over floor tiles that can only be crossed once, and you will need to walk on them until they are all lit up. Walking on a previously lit tile will cause the puzzle to reset, so you’ll have to plan where you walk. Probably my least favorite puzzle in the game is the sound memory one. With these puzzles, there a minimum of four pillars that emit different sounds. You’ll need to pay attention to these sounds and repeat them in the same order. This sounds simple, but they go on for quite a while, until you have to remember up to 7 or 8 sounds at a time. These puzzles don’t come up often, luckily.
Your main method of attacking enemies will be slashing them with your sword, which unfortunately is far less useful once you start getting other items like bombs, the boomerang, and the bow. Items like the boomerang will almost always kill normal enemies in one hit, and even take out multiple enemies if you line your shot up properly. The only catch is, using any item other than your sword will use up some of your magic bar. Even though it quickly regenerates, you might not always be in a situation where you can afford to wait for your magic to be restored.
There are 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. Despite being too easy, they still feel really fun to fight. I think my favorite boss fight was probably the first one, which is 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.
Possibly the most pleasant part of Blossom Tales to me was its music. So much of it was stuck in my head throughout the past few weeks, most notably the track from the town you start off in, as well as the cave theme and first dungeon theme. All of it sounds like classic 8 bit music, which actually 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.
Blossom Tales is overall a very fun Zelda style game that, for the most part, manages to capture what made the series so beloved in the first place. 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!
Review copy provided by publisher.
Blossom Tales: The Sleeping KingIndie gamePCSteam