Many games today draw inspiration from the classics of the past, but I’m sure that most of you out there would agree with me when I say that the 8-bit and 16-bit Legend of Zelda games take up a sizable chunk of that drawn-upon inspiration. With the 2D LoZ titles boasting a large amount of exploration, exciting battles, and challenging puzzles, it isn’t surprising at all to see other game developers mimic its various aspects when creating games of their own. But hey, just because The Legend of Zelda defined that genre of gameplay doesn’t mean that it has to be the only series using it. Plenty of LoZ-inspired games continue to come out to this very day, and we here at Hey Poor Player just happened to get our hands on a Beta version of one such game – Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King!
Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King begins not in some far away land in a distant time, but in the (seemingly) modern-day living room with siblings Lily and Chrys gathering around a warm fire as they prepare to hear their grandfather, aptly named “Grandpa”, tell another one of his fantastical tales. While Grandpa seems to know many wonderful stories – and favors one about a certain elf-eared boy – tonight’s is special because it involves a certain young girl by the name of Lily and her quest to save King Orchid and the entire Kingdom of Blossom!
In true Legend of Zelda fashion, Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King is a top-down adventure/RPG with an evenly-spread focus on exploration, combat, and puzzle solving. Gameplay mechanics are comfortably set up in such a way that anyone with prior LoZ experience would feel right at home – like putting on an old pair of Power Gloves (I’m sorry, that was really bad). Just to avoid any confusion however, I’d like to make something clear; “similar to” and “the same as” aren’t the same thing. While Blossom Tales had a high level of familiarity about it, it still did a good job of standing out with characters, locations, and a story entirely of its own.
One thing that I particularly enjoyed about Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King was the freedom of exploration. Although the main game progression was linear, I was generally free to explore the well-crafted and vibrant in-game world as I liked. Naturally there were places that I couldn’t yet get to due to lack of items or storyline progression, but I found that most of my efforts to uncover as much of the map as possible were rewarded more often than not. Even areas that you were supposed to go to always had plenty of extra locations to find, meaning that there was never a shortage of secrets – and that’s more than fine by me. Blossom Tales also encouraged exploration through its inclusion of sub-quests. Though entirely optional, completing as many sub-quests as I could ended up being really fun (and those rewards didn’t hurt either!).
The thing that perhaps ended up amusing me most about Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King was the fact that it never forgot what it started out as; a grandfather telling a story to his grandchildren. Many of the game’s important events were narrated in a way that made it seem as though Grandpa was setting up the next part of the story for Lily and Chrys. The game would also pause whenever important characters items, or even certain secrets, were uncovered, so Grandpa could detail things to the best of his abilities. Naturally, with the story being as action-packed as it is, Lily and Chrys would interrupt the tale, asks questions or arguing about what was happening – and this actually had an impact on the game! For example, an argument about what kind of monsters were attacking a Druid village ended up with the player (as the Grandpa) picking which of the grandchildren was correct; this lead to the Druid village actually being attacked by the chosen monster. While this wasn’t heavily implemented just yet, I very much look forward to what havoc Lily and Chrys cause due to their inability to stay quiet in the full game.
My time with the Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King Beta may have been short, it was very entertaining while it lasted. As a classically-inspired game with plenty of modern twists, Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King is already on its way to being a fantastic tribute to the top-down Legend of Zelda games that many of us grew up with.