Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King Review – A Love Letter To The Past

Developer
Castle Pixel’s affection for The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is
immediately and persistently evident in Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King. With
sprawling dungeons, enjoyable puzzles, and intense boss battles that deliver
new twists, it’s a worthwhile adventure despite relying on the tried-and-true
formula of Nintendo’s classic series.

Blossom
Tales puts you in control of Lily, a new knight serving the Kingdom of Blossom.
Shortly after she’s knighted, the king is put in a slumber by his brother, the
evil wizard Crocus. As the new recruit, you venture to distinct regions of the
world to find three key ingredients that can awaken the king.

While
lacking in the design sophistication of Nintendo’s enduring masterpiece, many
of the trappings of A Link to the Past are used heavily throughout the
adventure. You set out with just a sword, but later find items like a bow, a
boomerang, and bombs. But just because the mechanics are familiar doesn’t mean
they aren’t fun. Each of the four dungeons is long and diverse, giving ample
enemy encounters, puzzles, and boss battles. Though all the dungeons are great,
I love the fire-themed one the best. Battling through legions of flame monsters
and a bullet-hell miniboss is a rush that is finely balanced with methodical,
thought-provoking puzzles where you must track a path to activate all the tiles
without stepping on any you already activated.

The action
sequences only intensify as you work through this 10-to-15-hour adventure. My adrenaline began pumping as I ran
along a narrow, falling walkway, avoiding projectiles from turrets on the wall
and slashing at enemies in my path. However, the puzzles stick out in my head
as my favorite parts of the dungeons, as they continually build on top of the
simple concepts as you play on. The aforementioned tile-activation
puzzle is the most common concept, but my favorite style tasks you with
rotating differently shaped tiles to connect circuits to get power to its
destination. These puzzles were never difficult to the point where I was stuck
for an extended period, but they often made me stop and think about the
solution for a bit.

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Exploration
across the multiple regions is rewarded well. In addition to the typical heart
pieces and magic gauge upgrades, you can also uncover awesome new weapons and
abilities. I was stuck on a boss in a dungeon, so rather than repeatedly trying
to fight him, I explored the world and upgraded my bow to fire three arrows at
once, making the fight much easier. My favorite optional ability comes
late-game with the discovery of the powerful fireball spell, which destroys
almost anything in its path. The feeling of discovery abounds. As you explore,
you uncover sidequests that give you reasons to revisit old regions, fun minigames
that give you worthwhile rewards, and hidden treasure chests.

Blossom
Tales is set up as a bedtime story being told by a grandfather to two young
children. This convention delivers some cute moments, using the grandfather as
an unreliable narrator at times. Sometimes, the kids interrupt the grandfather,
arguing over what Lily should fight next and the player must choose between two
options. It doesn’t happen often, but I enjoyed the few times it popped up.

Despite
some new ideas, Blossom Tales can rely too heavily on aping a 25-year-old game.
The visual style, the overall structure, and the gameplay plays like an updated
version of A Link to the Past. At times, it seems less like an homage and more
like an unlicensed bootleg of that classic title.

Fun
puzzles, exciting dungeons, and satisfying exploration makes this retro-style
title a joy to play through. With loads of Zelda inspiration and fun, new takes
on puzzles and boss battles within the beloved formula, Blossom Tales: The
Sleeping King is a delightful take on a familiar style.

GameInformer.com

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