If you've been craving a brand new Zelda-like adventure, this 2D top-down throwback by FDG Entertainment is sure to fulfill that. Specifically being similar to ALTTP, this is a detailed gem that will likely ignite your sense of discovery and bring you back to the past. With so many items to collect and areas to explore, better start adventuring!
Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King is available now from the Nintendo eShop for $14.99.
The story of Blossom Tales starts out with two young children, Lily and Chrys, wanting to hear a new bedtime story from their grandfather before bed. In this story, the main character, who happens to also be named Lily, gets the opportunity to become a Blossom Knight recruit. As she arrives at the castle (barely making it in time) and is deemed a recruit knight by King Orchid and his brother Cronus, who is the wizard of the land, she is then tasked with her first trial of visiting the castle dungeon and clearing the rats from it. In this dungeon, she happens to accidentally stumble across the secret evil plans of Cronus and she discovers that Cronus is planning to put a sleeping curse on his brother so he can become ruler of the Blossom Kingdom and unleash a dirty scheme, which starts to happen shortly after Lily finds out about them. It is now up to the newly recruited knight, Lily, to stop the threat and save the day!
Throughout this adventure, you are mainly tasked with getting the three important ingredients needed to awaken the king and break the curse. These items are located in different areas of the map, and with the help of the mages and sometimes other knights (but mostly just yourself), you can overcome the challenges of each of the dangerous dungeons to recover the king. While the kingdom is recovering from this terrible incident, Cronus is still out there and preparing his next step for his scheme while also getting in the way of you when he can and summoning his army and casting spells. If you manage to collect the ingredients whilst surviving against and combatting Cronus and his army, your mission will be complete. It'll be quite tough though as you're only a new recruit after all.
As this is a bedtime story supposedly being made up by the grandpa, you'll constantly be seeing dialogue from the family throughout the game. They'll usually comment on most story scenarios and gameplay scenarios such as when you die or enter a secret area. The constant dialogue with the family can get annoying at times, especially at the start of the game, as it's a bit overdone and obnoxious in some situations, but other than that it was pretty well done and had some nice humour as well. Of course, there is also plenty of dialogue from the NPCs if you wish to talk with them.
As Blossom Tales is a Zelda-inspired experience (specifically by A Link to the Past), a lot of the main fundamentals carry over perfectly to this game. Just like the game this is mimicking, you still are a warrior with a sword and shield and several other tools and it's still a top-down 2D action adventure game. You also still move with the d-pad/analogue stick and use the face buttons for weapons/items. Lily mostly houses the same moveset as Link but she even has some of her own tricks up her sleeve. Along with a brand new spinning jump move, she also has plenty of new items that she can acquire that were never seen in the Zelda series before (as well as quite a few from the Zelda series).
These close similarities to Zelda were both good and bad as the game was familiar but I also thought that in some areas they played it a little too safe. There was a lot missed opportunities with the modernizations since the SNES like more buttons that they could have taken advantage of. Specifically, I felt they could've used more buttons to have more items equipped at once as you're still only limited to 2 items equipped at the same time in this game. Movement wise though, this did indeed take advantage of the modern age and the controls felt a lot smoother in this.
In the main quest for this game, you'll mainly be exploring the world and going through dungeons to save the King and fight Cronus's army. There are five dungeons spread out across the map, each dungeon and section of the map with their own theme. Dungeons can be quite lengthy but this isn't necessarily a bad thing as they were well designed and had a nice flow of progression. Like in Zelda, each dungeon has a new main weapon inside for you to acquire such as the boomerang, and each dungeon also has you solving puzzles and defeating enemies and bosses in many rooms to finish the dungeon with a heart container at the end. The enemies in the dungeons and the overworld were interesting for the most part other than a lot of generic designs. The bosses especially were amazing, with a lot of over the top and mighty designs and battles that really resonated with me.
Along the way, you'll also find plenty of upgrades such as heart pieces, magic upgrades, and special items. You'll find these in secret places all over the world, from caves in the overworld to cracked walls in dungeons. You'll also find tons of the currency in this game; coins. In my playthrough, I found so many of these that I didn't know what to do with them, even if I spent them on everything I could find. This isn't much of a problem but it would've been nice to have more things to spend coins on, especially throughout the main game. With all of these collectibles and so many secrets, exploring was very rewarding.
The puzzles in this game were disappointingly simple at first but by the end, they ended up being quite clever and fun as they increasingly get more complex. These puzzle types included maze-like squares where you would need to light up every floor tile without backtracking or exiting the boundaries, and other ones like arranging blocks into their spots by pushing them into their place, as well as a rhythm memory game and many other ideas. These puzzles ranged from basic but fun to complex but familiar, while some were just plain annoying at first although once I got good at mastering them, were quite enjoyable. These puzzles were fun and they were definitely a unique take on them as compared to the Zelda series.
Other than just exploring the world and finding secrets, there was quite a bit more side content such as the side quests in which most have you collecting item drops from enemies across the land and bringing them to an NPC. These were nice little side objectives and were fun to keep track of. Most NPCs themselves are found in towns or in certain overworld locations across the land and have lots of fun dialogue (though repeated a lot) and each town usually has a few special ones with optional objectives or mini-games for you to complete.
As for the difficulty of the game, I felt that it was especially beginner friendly to anyone who has never played A Link to the Past before which means it did quite a nice job at guiding the player and not shoving anyone off of the deep end so fast. As a veteran Zelda player though, I would've preferred a sort of harder difficulty from the get-go as I found the game a little too hand-holdy and easy at times so it would've been a nice option for those who want it. More player options, in general, would have been nice as there were a lot of things I wish I had the power to customize in this that you can't such as text box settings.
The gameplay in this adventure was very well executed and was a good mix of a throwback with a bit of a modern take and it definitely ignited the inner explorer in me.
Visuals and audio
The visual style of Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King was a faithful retro style, more in the 32-bits, but it also had some stunning modern visual effects. Things like the blinding flash from a fire boss or your glowing sword were so bright that in handheld mode they would light up the whole room for a moment. Even things like the colourful butterflies popping out in the overworld and the grass and dirt being flung around when slicing vegetation or digging really added an extra layer of life to the world which made the Blossom Kingdom a more memorable place, especially with its many landmarks. All of the textures were also nicely detailed and clean like many other retro indie games these days and the whole package was overall aesthetically pleasing.
As for the music, it gave off a strong nostalgic vibe with its adventurous soundtrack. Many songs were akin to the style of 16-bit classics but with a modern twist/vibe and it complimented the game perfectly. The whole soundtrack was well put together and there were many catchy highlights and themes out of the bunch. The sound effects were also satisfying in their own right and fitted the rest of the game like a glove. No complaints in the sound department.
Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King is a love letter to the Zelda series and an eShop gem which is excellently presented and executed in almost all of the right ways. While there were a lot of missed opportunities, Blossom Tales ultimately builds on the greatness that was A Link to the Past and provides an excellent throwback that'll for sure spark your sense of adventure. Even for newcomers, this game is perfectly geared for anyone unfamiliar with the genre or style to freely jump in and have a blast adventuring. If you're looking for a new lighthearted adventure that is also affordable, look no further than this.
|+ Amazing throwback that builds on the classics||– Missed opportunities|
|+ Large rich open world with lots to do and find||– Not many player options|
|+ Great soundtrack with plenty of hits|
|+ Lighthearted and fun story|