Review

Review: Blossom Tales (Switch)

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Blossom Tales seeks to recreate the Zelda magic of Link to the Past. Does it succeed?

At a Glance – 9/10

Blossom Tales is the closest I’ve seen a company come to mastering the 2D Zelda space, that wasn’t Nintendo themselves. This review compares these series a lot, and with good reason, but Blossom Tales does enough of its own things to be more than just a knock off clone of the venerable Nintendo series. If you enjoy Zelda, you will find a lot to love in this game, and that is probably the most wonderful compliment I can give any game.

There really isn’t any hiding it, Blossom Tales wears its Zelda love plain on its sleeves for all to see. To say that the game is inspired by the famous Nintendo series would be putting it mildly, as it seeks to recreate the things that makes Zelda so successful in its 2D iterations. The needle it has to thread then is to make a game that is in a similar style of Zelda, while also having small touches that give Blossom Tales its own spin.

Luckily the developer manages just that, and creates a Zelda-ish adventure that is different enough to be a wonderful homage with some original thoughts, instead of just a cheap  Link to the Past clone.

One of the ways it differentiates itself is the method in which the story is told. We open with two children sitting in front of their grandfather, asking for a new story to be told. In a clever nod to its roots, the grandfather begins to tell the tale of a hero clad in green, before being stopped by the children telling him we’ve heard this one a bunch before.

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Instead the grandfather tells them the tale of Lily, an apprentice Knight of the Rose. It is the big day, and our female protagonist is tasked with showing up at the castle to be brought into the order, but is interrupted as a dastardly wizard attacks the kingdom and flees, surprising absolutely no gamer.

Thus our protagonist sets out on her own to find three ingredients to rescue the King from the deep slumber the evil wizard has inflicted, even though she isn’t a full-fledged knight yet. At this point the world opens up, and like you’d expect there are people to talk to, small side-quests to take care of, grass to cut down for hearts, and dungeons to explore.

Along the way the story beats and side quests are narrated by the grandfather, and sometimes the story changes because of the children’s inputs. At one point you encounter some enemies, and each child has a different version of what they are, until you choose one as the grandfather to continue. It doesn’t change the outcome significantly, but it is a fun way to tell the tale, that helps to further set itself apart.

One of the first things you’ll notice immediately gameplay wise is the difference in pacing between Zelda and Blossom Tales, a welcome fluidity and speed is present in Lily that we didn’t see from Link in the 2D titles. While Link to the Past’s combat is slow and methodical, Blossom Tale’s combat is much faster, which can sometimes lead to it feeling slightly out of control.

Those moments are few though, for the most part it just feels very fluid to swing your sword. Like you might expect you can hold the button for a spin attack, but if you press the attack button during that spinning attack, you’ll leap into the air and crash to the ground with your sword. It is a very satisfying move, and is another welcome diversion from the classic set-up.

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Dungeons are the bread and butter of the Zelda franchise, and for the most part Blossom Tales doesn’t disappoint. While the puzzles are overly simple, and tend to mostly include box puzzles and completing a pattern without stepping on the same brick twice, they still provide that feeling of light accomplishment that this type of adventure game does well.

My one big pain point with the game shows up in the dungeons and hidden areas, with these paths of bricks that you have to run across that then fall once you touch them. That is fine for the most part, but later in the game they add enemies that fire at you as you cross. There is just a little too much momentum in our protagonist, and I always felt like I was barely in control using the analog stick as a barreled through these.

The d-pad being absent on the Switch in handheld mode takes away a level of precision I feel you need for these, but the analog stick also feels necessary for the swiftness you have to change directions and traverse these. Some of these sections were incredibly long, and falling off right near the end was incredibly frustrating, particularly when I felt like the game was being a bit cheap. Overall it is a very minor gripe, but in a game that I’ve enjoyed this much I feel it bears pointing out.

The bosses are fairly straight forward, and can soak up quite a bit of damage at times, but are overly fun to play. Each dungeon you’ll receive a new item or ability which will open up the exploration and combat further, and though these items are extremely predictable for Zelda fans, they open up exploration and combat in an engaging way.

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Overall the game lasts about six hours, which feels like the perfect length. It gives Blossom Tales the feel of a Link to the Past, condensed down to a smaller map and experience, cutting out a lot of fluff to get to the heart of its content. This allows for fantastic pacing, and the side diversions are never annoying, and usually provide you with worthwhile rewards for completing them.

Blossom Tales is the closest I’ve seen a company come to mastering the 2D Zelda space, that wasn’t Nintendo themselves. This review compares these series a lot, and with good reason, but Blossom Tales does enough of its own things to be more than just a knock off clone of the venerable Nintendo series. If you enjoy Zelda, you will find a lot to love in this game, and that is probably the most wonderful compliment I can give any game.

 

Final Score – 9 out of 10

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5 thoughts on “Review: Blossom Tales (Switch)

  1. I loveee the narrative device this game uses. It’s so meta to have it framed like a story told to the teller’s grandchildren. It removes the need for companion characters or out-of-universe item explanations. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of anything similar in other games.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My favorite part of the game was the way the narrative was told. Especially the tongue in cheek reference at the beginning to the hero clad in green.

      Very clever in general, and helps further help it stand on its own outside of its influences.

      Like

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