Lily is a young girl that loves adventure, and her grandfather is more than happy to guide her through bedtime stories that feature her as the lone hero saving an entire kingdom. Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King has drawn a lot of comparisons to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and deservedly so; however, from its aesthetic to some of the puzzles, I feel like Lily’s whimsical adventure is more comparable to the Capcom-developed Zelda titles that hit the GameBoy Color years ago.
Blossom Tales has a whimsical world and a simple story, but the way it goes about presenting them is where the title separates itself from the Zelda games it takes after, for better or worse. An evil wizard has cursed the king to an endless slumber, and it’s up to Lily to tackle three dungeons in order to collect ingredients that will wake him up again. Lily’s grandfather occasionally provides narration — remember, this world is all make-believe — and there are even moments when he argues with Lily about what king of monsters she’s come across. During those few instances, the game will give you two options of enemies to fight; it doesn’t dramatically change the game, but it’s a neat feature which highlights the bedtime-story nature of Blossom Tales.
From the heart pieces that strengthen Lily, to the progression from dungeon to dungeon, and to the secrets hidden around the overworld, Blossom Tales feels like a love letter to 2D Zelda titles. The three dungeons plus one final dungeon clearly reference A Link to the Past, although they’re element themed in Blossom Tales. The overworld is much smaller than any 2D Zelda game, unfortunately; there are four distinct areas, each of which house one of the game’s dungeons, with a huge castle town in the center of the map. Progression between dungeons is completely linear and, sadly, the game places waypoints on your map telling you where to go to find the next dungeon, making sure that players will never get lost in their adventure. Some people may like this — personally, exploring and getting lost in a game’s world is one of my favorite parts to these types of games, so it’s disappointing that Blossom Tales didn’t let me do that. This linearity let me beat Blossom Tales in a little over six hours.
Still, there’s quite a bit to do as you venture toward the next dungeon. There are tons of secret grottos to unearth and cave systems to explore, most of which yield a heart piece to give Lily more life. Many of these secret areas contain a puzzle that needs to be solved in order to unlock the treasure chest; some of these puzzles may require an item you don’t have yet, so you may have to remember that spot and come back later after you’ve obtained the necessary item. Each of the game’s dungeons contains a new item, like a bow or a boomerang, and using them depletes a green meter — if it runs out, you’ll have to wait for it to regenerate before you can use an item again. Only the sword isn’t affected by this meter; it works in the same way as the item meter in A Link Between Worlds.
The dungeons in Blossom Tales are pretty long — longer than the ones in Breath of the Wild — but they’re completely linear, even if the path has you looping between and around rooms. They’re more like guided experiences with combat and puzzle challenges along the way to the dungeon’s item and then to the boss; you’ll never get lost and the game never asks you to take spacial awareness into account when navigating their corridors or solving their puzzles.
Those puzzles are pretty good, at least. Aside from the standard switch-hitting puzzles, there are two main puzzle types in Blossom Tales: block puzzles and walk puzzles.
Block puzzles have a unique twist to them — you have to get a block on all of the switches, but you’re confined to a small space to move the blocks within; if you walk outside that space then the puzzle will reset itself. This gets even harder later in the game when ice blocks that move all the way to the end, instead of one space at a time, are introduced.
Walk puzzles take place in that same confined space with the same reset penalty if you walk outside of it. These puzzles are clearly inspired from Oracle of Ages — you have to walk from point A to point B while touching every single floor panel on the way there, but you can’t step on panels that you’ve already stepped on.
Dungeon bosses are huge and epic. One of my main complaints with Ittle Dew 2 was that the bosses were uninspired, but Blossom Tales doesn’t have that problem. Like in any Zelda title, each boss (except for the final boss, curiously) requires using the dungeon’s item in order to be defeated. The combat in Blossom Tales is incredibly fluid in general, and Lily has a few moves that Link doesn’t even have.
Blossom Tales is fairly derivative, but it does do a few neat things that Zelda doesn’t. Each of the game’s areas has one character that’s looking to collect 20 items dropped by the enemies that roam around — druid feathers, brains, etc — and they’ll provide useful rewards for them. There are also short side quests that will upgrade Lily’s existing equipment, such as giving her bow the ability to shoot three arrows at once.
The most noteworthy departure from Zelda comes from the boomerang. At its core it still functions the same — you throw it and it comes back — but this boomerang can also pass through multiple objects. This makes for some pretty cool switch-hitting puzzles where you’re riding on a moving platform and have to throw the boomerang at just the right time so that it passes through and activates three switches in succession.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King was provided by FDG Entertainment for this Blossom Tales review.