Although The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has been dominating the industry since its debut last March, there is no forgetting about the franchise’s 2D roots. We’ve already seen the likes of Ittle Dew 2 make it to the Nintendo Switch, and now we’re seeing another game inspired by the Zeldas of old under the guise of Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King. Does this game provide a quality 2D Zelda fix? Does it have more to offer beyond its imitations? As always, the answer to these questions is to read onward!
The basic premise is a simple one; there’s an evil king that’s threatened an opposing kingdom and put their leader under a sleeping spell. Although the kingdom has an army of warriors, none of them could be able to help solve the problems as efficiently as the one sword-wielding individual you’ll be in control of. As this young knight, you have to find three major ingredients to wake the sleeping king back up and defeat the evil king once and for all.
While this sounds very standard, what really makes it come together is the fact that it’s told in-game by a grandfather to two kids. The characterization in general is excellent and humorous, but the children adding commentary over their granddad’s narration never ceases to make me smile and chuckle. It’s such a charming element in Blossom Tales that I don’t think I would have thought much of the story without it.
Blossom Tales is coated in a 16-Bit style but is assisted by special effects not possible on ’90s hardware. The world is richly detailed, and the game is very much lively and animated in its own right. I guess it’s slightly more simplified in some areas when compared to A Link to the Past, but you’d have to really look at them side by side to know for sure. All I can pinpoint is that the game as a whole looks great. If anything, I would have loved to see some unique visual themes that games like Zelda hadn’t explored nearly as often; grasslands, snowy mountains, and fiery caverns are by-the-book tropes at this point.
The music primarily consists of 8-Bit-esque chiptunes that convey a sense of adventure and exploration. You can actually find the soundtrack online as a collective upload by the composer, and I recommend giving the tunes a listen. There is some catchy stuff to be found here, and it makes traversing through long dungeons more welcome than it could have been otherwise.
If you have ever played one of the older Zelda games before, you’ll be able to hop right into Blossom Tales. You roam around an open world, swing your sword, and use various items and weapons at your disposal. There are coins to collect for buying things, heart containers to increase your max health, and lots of enemy types that utilize different attack strategies from each other. The main adventure is far from the longest out there, but there is an appreciable amount of side quests players could participate in to reap extra rewards. The adventure itself is also a very fun one and at a level of challenge that’s just right to boot. The hardest Blossom Tales gets is during the end bosses of each dungeon, but every boss follows a recognizable pattern that you could learn from.
My personal favorite mechanic in the game is that weapon usages rely on a stamina meter instead of a quantity. You could throw bombs or toss the boomerang (which kills in this game, by the way) at enemies as many times as the stamina meter allows for before it refills itself. Venturing through the world in general is as pleasurable as in any genuine Zelda, and the dungeons have plenty of interesting obstacles and puzzles to overcome. However, some puzzles have a nasty habit of showing up more times than they should. There were three or four sequence memorization puzzles I encountered in my run, and by the time I came across the fifth tile maze puzzle, I started to get annoyed by their appearances.
Nevertheless, Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King gets a strong recommendation from me. As someone that’s still too lazy to play the Zelda games sitting in the backlog, I found myself thoroughly enjoying this game from start to finish. If you’re craving more after Breath of the Wild, Blossom Tales is a worthy substitute (as another Zelda in general, not as a follow-up to Breath of the Wild. I, uh…hope that’s clear).