Introducing Blossom Tales - a cheeky tribute to the 16-bit dungeon-crawlers of old. Heavily inspired by classic top-down RPGs like The Legend of Zelda, and not afraid to show it, Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King is a great example of classic style with a modern boost.
The narrative style is similar to that of The Princess Bride, in that the game is actually following a story currently being told by a grandfather to his two grandchildren. This means that the narration and gameplay tips come from the grandfather as he explains the story, with some humorous interjections from his grand-kids throughout. It creates a fun style that keeps the game moving and opens the way for players to have some influence on how events unfold; the grandfather occasionally asks the kids what should happen next and the player gets to choose their own adventure.
The story itself is a fairly by-the-numbers hero’s journey. It follows the newly knighted Lily as she searches the land for three ingredients necessary to save her King from an evil spell. Her search will take her to several dungeons where she will have to find new equipment, solve some challenging puzzles and cut her way through a variety of enemies to eventually face the boss and collect her prize.
If this all sounds familiar, it’s not a mistake. The developers, FDG Entertainment, have said that they are “huge Zelda fans,” and it shows. At times the game feels just like the NES classic; from the arsenal of bombs and arrows, to the signature spinning sword attack, to the dozens of smashable pots littering the world. At the beginning of the game, the grandfather even mentions his previous stories about the adventures of a young “Elf Boy.” Blossom Tales has added its own touches to bring the game forward into the modern era, such as doing away with the ammo system for bombs and arrows, replacing them instead with a recharging “magic meter.”
It all comes together to make for a fun throwback to times gone by. The puzzles are all challenging and reward players for paying attention to their surroundings. There are several things to keep players busy outside of the main quest, such as participate in a race just outside the castle walls or help shopkeepers collect supplies. The story is fun and the narrative style adds a healthy amount of humor throughout. And most of all, it’s just a nice dose of nostalgia for anyone remembers the days of cartridge consoles.
The version I was able to play for review was also a “preview build,” which means that I only had access to the first dungeon. While this was definitely a blast to play, it was also pretty quick. And if it is really a third of the way through the game, as the story seems to suggest, then it does look like it might be a bit small overall. The developers have said that there will be 15 hours of gameplay, though, so we’ll have to wait until it’s released in early 2017 to know for sure.
Because of that, I can’t yet give this game a final score. What I can say is that I thoroughly enjoyed what I saw, and I recommend that anyone who enjoys the classic 2D, top-down RPG keep their eye on Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King as we get closer to the official release. I suspect that we will all be in for a very fun adventure down memory lane.
For more information, please visit the official website for Blossom Tales.