One of the most beloved game series of all time is The Legend of Zelda. It’s no surprise then that throughout the years there have been many clones and copycats. Some are standout hits in their own rights, like Alundra, Beyond Oasis, and Crystalis. The truth is that most are so forgettable that we won’t name them here. That’s why I was so pleasantly surprised to discover that Blossom Tales not only delivered a quality Zelda experience, but offered up a humorous narrative that really elevated the game to new heights. For those A Link to the Past fans out there, take notice – your Switch is now home to a great alternative.
At first glance Blossom Tales looks like a complete knock-off of the traditional overhead Zelda games – and to be fair it mostly is. But right off the bat I really loved the way the story was being told. Much like the now-classic movie The Princess Bride, the tale of Lily (an Orchid Knight) is being passed down from a grandfather to his two grandkids. We play as Lily, but as the story unfolds Grandpa will explain events and oftentimes the two kids will interject and ask questions or become excited. There are times where Grandpa won’t remember little details and the two children will argue over what really happened, leaving it up to the player to decide how the story is told. This unique storytelling conceit really goes a long way to keeping the story fresh and humorous throughout.
As far as gameplay is concerned, yep this is Zelda! You begin the game with three hearts and can find more throughout your quests. There’s a big castle to explore and dungeons to conquer. The usual puzzle solving is here, including moving things around to hold down a button and open a door. You know – the usual sort of stuff found in games like these. To be sure, there’s nothing truly innovative here, but the game features spot-on controls and that’s not always the case with smaller games. You’ll acquire new weapons and tools like bombs to locate hidden passages. Holding down the A button will allow Lily to power-up her sword and do a slash attack. Cutting blades of grass and shrubs will often reveal money. If this all sounds familiar, that’s because it is!
Graphically the game is very colorful and I really like the aesthetic. The sprites are a bit smaller and less detailed than those found in many Super Nintendo games, but the smooth look and special effects are probably a bit more than that 16-bit system could handle. Some of the sprites reminded me of Earthbound – not all that detailed or pretty to look at, but they suffice. The game runs great on the TV and on the handheld, but due to its pixelated nature it does look better on the go rather than blown up on the big screen. For a game like this, the graphics straddle the line of being nostalgic yet somehow current.
The music in Blossom Tales is pretty catchy. It has more of an 8-bit sound to it than a 16-bit one, but it’s somewhere in the middle most of the time. Some of the songs are quite memorable, although one in particular is almost a direct rip off of the Princess Zelda theme. The game is not voiced and features text, much like the traditional games of yesteryear. The text is usually well written and many times the characters will have multiple things to say if you keep talking to them. I found many of the NPCs to have funny lines of dialog to read, but some of them were also a bit on the juvenile side.
The game features four big dungeons. Usually these are the highlight of the Zelda games, but here they fall a little short. They don’t differ enough between them and they aren’t as well designed. I never really had any “aha!” moments like I do with the Zelda series. They were still enjoyable, but just didn’t offer up much in the way of new ideas or creative puzzle solving. I still had a good time, probably thanks to the lack of a proper 2D Zelda game on the Switch (give it time I suppose), and that’s probably all you should expect.
Overall I had a great time with Blossom Tales. It’s not overly long, but that’s not a bad thing as 2D Zelda games tend to be around the 10 hour mark. This is one of the better Zelda clones out there, and surely the best ever on the Switch. You won’t find much in the way of innovation, but the journey is still one worth taking and it’s a fun experience on the Switch. In a landscape where there are well over 300 games on the Switch eShop, this one should stand tall and be worthy of consideration over the vast majority of them.
Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King was reviewed using a final retail Nintendo Switch download code provided by the publisher.