This morning, I decided to start the new year out right by participating in one of my favorite activities from 2017 – playing my Nintendo Switch in bed. Determined to accomplish my ambitious plan, I refused to leave bed until I had finished Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King, a fun new Indie game that I picked up from the eShop last week.
Now, readers, there’s something shameful that I have to admit before we go any further. Despite my lifelong love of video games I have never — PLEASE PREPARE YOURSELVES. SIT DOWN IF YOU MUST. SWALLOW ANY LIQUIDS YOU MAY BE DRINKING — I have never beaten a classic top-down Zelda game. Sure, I’ve taken down Ganon or weird moon possessing baddies in The Ocarina of Times, Majora’s Mask, and The Breath of the Wild, but the earlier Zelda games from my childhood, while played extensively, were sadly never to be completed. Perhaps I was too prone to being lost as an uncoordinated youth, or perhaps it was because I came from more of a Mario family, but whatever the cause, this gaming tragedy remains one of my biggest regrets. It’s part of the reason I was so excited to get an SNES Classic (featuring A Link to the Past), and it’s the main basis for picking up the relatively cheap ($15) Blossom Tales.
On its surface, Blossom Tales is a loving homage to those 8 and 16-bit Zelda games of yesteryear. You travel from dungeon to dungeon slaying creatures and solving puzzles. Along the way, you acquire new abilities needed to proceed while collecting mythical ingredients to save your fallen king and defeat an evil wizard all from a colorful and comforting bird’s-eye perspective.
The gameplay is a perfect representation of peak Link adventuring. You begin with a sword and shield, and as you defeat more dungeons your sword slowly transforms into and even more hardcore version of the master sword that spews massive energy slashes across the screen. Additionally, the acquired abilities add new depths with bombs, a bow, magic powers, and the overpowered grandaddy of them all – the boomerang. Seriously, this may be the greatest video game incarnation of a boomerang since the Arkham series’ remote controlled batarangs.
Each dungeon provides a unique new set of puzzles and challenges injecting the game with variety (highlighted by my personal favorite, the ice dungeon). Aside from the dungeon clearing fare, there are also plenty of NPCs to talk to and small collection and clearing side-quests to complete adding to the enjoyment and charm.
The only gripes I found myself having about the game revolved around a fairly undetailed map and a lack of good side quest tracking. But then I remembered that this was supposed to emulate those far less advanced games of the 80s and 90s, and those decisions suddenly made a lot more sense. I even grew to love the poorly detailed map as I found myself forced to explore new areas I wouldn’t have otherwise, which led to amusing encounters with everything from farmers, to mad scientists, and beekeepers.
While having that Zelda look and feel may have been enough, Blossom Tales manages to shoot past simply being a well-done clone thanks to an endearing story centered around a grandfather telling his grandkids an intricate tale about the brave knight Lily. This gives the heartwarming adventure a wonderful Princess Bride like feel (minus all the gross smooching). The storytelling device makes its way into the gameplay itself as there are times the children will argue over what enemies you encounter, or the sleepy grandfather will forget to provide a trap in a cave and then make up several increasingly ridiculous ones to compensate for it.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Blossom Tale. There are about 6-8 hours worth of adventures to be had, and I found its dungeon based structure to be perfect for tackling one just before bed (or, you know, before leaving bed on New Year’s Day). While waiting for the Virtual Console to arrive on the Switch and provide us with access to those classic Zelda titles, this game will definitely quench your thirst for quality top-down adventures, while supplying plenty of warmth and smiles along the way.