Developer: Castle Pixel
Publisher: FDG Entertainment
Category: Action, Adventure, Role-Playing, Platformer
Release Date: 12.21.2017
Every once in a while, a game comes out that is quite blatantly a copy of another game. From here, one of two things happens. It either tries to hide the fact that it’s a copy and becomes increasingly annoying, making you scream the words “rip off” in your head as you play. Or, the game pays a very quick and subtle homage to it’s predecessor, and letting you enjoy the tribute of gameplay that follows. Blossom Tales falls under the latter category, and thank god it did.
The game begins with two children, Lily and Chrys, griping their grandfather for a bedtime story. Wasting no time at all, this is where the homage payoff slips in, because the grandfather prepares for the story by asking if he’s told them the one of “the boy dressed in all green in the land of H-” and that’s as far as he gets before they cut him off saying they’ve heard that one before. It’s no mystery that the story referenced is The Legend of Zelda. What follows is a game loaded with nostalgic energy that will drive almost any gamer back to A Link to the Past.
Grandpa’s story unfolds as the tale of Lily, a newly appointed knight in the Blossom Kingdom. Lily is tasked with cleaning out the castle’s dungeon of rats (after all the other knights scatter to the winds). While in the dungeon, she uncovers the lair of Crocus, and details of his plan to put the Blossom Kingdom’s king to sleep, allowing him to take reign. Lily is defiant about wanting to help, despite every other knight telling her that it’s far too dangerous for a rookie. Still, she sets out into the world to find the three ingredients that will wake the king, stopping Crocus’s evil plan.
Scattered around the world are five dungeons that Lily must conquer, with tons of enemies and side quests in between. She’ll start out with a sword and shield as soon as she’s knighted, but can acquire other weapons as well including bombs and a bow. All of which provide an equal use during combat as well as while solving puzzles. These weapons, on top of the plethora of items you can discover in the world, can be hot-keyed between the B and X buttons, with the sword being permanently equipped to A. With her sword, Lily can perform a three slash combo by pressing the button multiple times in a row, or holding it momentarily to build up energy and releasing into a whirlwind spin attack. Even further, you can press the attack button once more in the middle of this spin attack to make her perform a powerful jumping attack.
Her health is represented by heart containers, which can be expanded upon, and underneath these is a green energy bar. This bar depletes with the use of any of the other weapons, whether it’s holding up the shield to defend yourself, or taking a bomb out to drop or throw it. Thankfully, these bar refills naturally on it’s own, and it does so rather quickly, so if you run it empty, you can easily just run around for a few moments and it will come back. Health can be expanded by defeating bosses or finding smaller heart containers in the world, and the energy bar can be extended as well.
The main story carries itself on automatically, directing you towards each location as you need to visit. If it’s not enough, the world is filled with loads of NPC’s that are just itching to give you side quests. A good number of these run on the fetch-quest side of things, and can quickly become repetitive and stale. The same can be said for the games main dungeons as well. While most games in this area would dig deeper for the puzzles, making their solutions increase in difficulty as the game progressed, Blossom Tales just tries to switch things around on the surface, presenting the puzzles in just a slightly different way, and this is quite the let down. One of the greatest things about this style of game is the difficulty curve doesn’t stop growing, yet in this instance it tries to make you believe things are getting more difficult, when they’re really just leveling off.
Castle Pixel’s choice of pixel art is beautifully done, bringing a world filled with vibrant colors right to your fingertips, and a distinctive feel for everywhere you go. In the overworld you’ll be greeted with the widest variety of colors, and as you work your way underneath into one of the games dungeons things will take on a more gray tone, but still manage to bring in some other colors to keep things from being too stale.
My absolute favorite part about this game is how it chooses to tell the story. A grandfather, putting his grandkids to bed. Not only does it make for some humorous fourth-wall breaking moments (if Lily dies in the game, the grandfather reflects that “that’s not how the story went”), it presents opportunities for some unique story choices when Lily and Chrys begin arguing over what type of creature one of the games villains must have been. But, best of all, it gives the game a bit of a Princess Bride feel to it which, chances are, if someone grew up playing A Link to the Past they grew up with that gem of a movie as well.
All across the board, Blossom Tales is a big win for anybody who needs to be slapped with a heavy dose of nostalgia across the face. It may have it’s imperfections, and it can run a little stale at points, but the main story and the delivery of said story are so enjoyable that once you start playing this game, it will be hard to stop.
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