Review – Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King
The Switch is, so far, the only Nintendo portable without a 2D Zelda game, and it sure looks like it’ll stay this way for years to come. Sure, we all love Breath of the Wild, but there’s something about 2D Zeldas, some kind of charm, that 3D ones can’t emulate. Maybe it’s just nostalgia talking. Regardless, if you’re looking for a temporary substitute, that’s what Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King is for. It’s definitely not a very “original” game, but I can’t deny how fun it still is.
Blossom Tales has all the elements you’d expect from a game like Link’s Awakening or A Link to the Past: dungeons, items to collect inside said dungeon, pieces of heart, a huge map divided in smaller screens, secrets, etc.. That alone wouldn’t make the game much different from other Zelda carbon copies such as Oceanhorn or Quest for Camelot for the Game Boy Color (ever heard of it? It ain’t that bad). It looks like a hybrid between a Super Nintendo and Game Boy title, and it also sounds like one. When you start playing it, you’ll see how much it looks like an older Zelda and how much it plays like an older Zelda, especially with the slightly annoying item management system. But it’s still pretty good. The difference between this game and a lot of other clones, besides a few additions I’ll talk about in a minute, is the fact Blossom Tales knows it’s a clone, and embraces it.
The best aspect of the game lies in its storytelling. In a very Princess Bride-esque way, Blossom Tales is story told by a grandfather to his grandkids, who will constantly change the outline of the story (the game’s way of giving you options to customize some minor plot details) and provide commentary regarding the current state of your main character’s adventure in a very self-aware and tongue-in-cheek manner. Every time you upload a save file, grampa will show up before the game restarts, as if he’s still telling his kids a story.
Gameplay-wise, the game has a few new additions to try to be less of a blatant ripoff. Besides pieces of heart, there are also equivalents for your magic meter. A huge network of teleporting pads can ease the process of moving around the quite big map, including rooms right before boss fights inside dungeons, just so you can stockpile on potions before a battle. And the game’s combat is vastly superior to the extremely simplified combat you can find in older Zelda games. Not only can you do your typical spin attack and basic slashes, but you can also perform a forward strike by pressing the sword button after charging your attack, resulting in a much stronger move. The only true issue in the gameplay department is a somewhat wonky collision detection.
Blossom Tales is a blast from start to finish. It knows it’s a complete carbon copy of older Zelda games and uses that to its advantage with a funny and self-aware way of storytelling, coupled with good controls and excellent dungeon design, sometimes even surpassing its sources of inspiration. Not only that, but the game is slightly harder than your average Zelda game, so there’s yet another motivation for those out there who think most games on this series are a bit easy (and I know you’re out there). If you’re a Zelda fan wishing for something a bit more classic and similar to the good old days when the franchise was still 2D, don’t even think twice: Blossom Tales might have a couple of issues, but it’s still extremely entertaining and worth the purchase.
Reviewed on Switch.
Also available on: PC.
Copy of Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King provided by publisher.