Blossom Tales is a walk back in time and a massive tribute to all the 2D Legend of Zelda games that make up the building blocks of many of our favorite action adventure games. I’d say it’s a pretty standard take on the Zelda formula, for better and for worse, but is still a fun and pixelated romp through a new kingdom to explore with a fun and lighthearted story complemented by equal writing, very aware of what it is.
Blossom Tales is very much harkening to something like A Link to the Past, with its top down perspective, locked item buttons, and something to slash a sword with. I was surprised though, because tonally I think Blossom Tales very much channels much of what made the Capcom-developed Zelda games different. For those who don’t know, Oracle of Ages, Oracle of Seasons, and Minish Cap were all developed by a Capcom studio outside of the Nintendo Flagship, and while still maintaining the look of the 2D Zelda games, they had a bit more wit and charm, felt very different than something like A Link to the Past or Link’s Awakening, and approached things from a much more colorful, character-driven, and light hearted angle. Blossom Tales does very much the same.
It’s framed as a story that a grandfather is telling his two grandchildren just before bed. What’s fun is how this crops back up as more than just a framing device, like if you quit the game and return, the story picks up on another night where you left off, or, at certain points, Chrys and Lily, the two kids listening, will interject with commentary or make changes to the story. It’s fun and adds a bit of spice to the pretty simple story of a king’s brother betraying him and trying to take over the kingdom. While I’d say there are no surprises along the way, they at least break up what is a standard Zelda-like with something that uses this framing to referentially joke that is a lot like Zelda, that sometimes dungeons and puzzles are silly and have no point, and it’s all a bedtime story anyway.
From there you’re left to explore the relatively small kingdom and collect three items on a quest to revive the king who has been put to sleep. From here, it’s more standard fare than I think it benefits from. The greatest criticism I can lodge against Blossom Tales is that it adds very little to the formula it pulls from. In fact, save for its style, it adds next to nothing. The world is small and colorful, but without too much to do in it. The sidequests often result in collecting 20 of some item and that’s about it, each being an easy-to-farm collectible that drops from a specific enemy, like brains that drop from zombies, or mushrooms that drop from horrific, anthropomorphic mushroom monsters. Some result in minor upgrades for your weapons, all of which use the same kind of stamina bar for use like A Link Between Worlds, another nod to the Zelda games Blossom Tales pulls from, and all are just extra, not necessary.
It may seem almost like a half-hearted drawing from Zelda, as there is no big trade quest, or creature to collect through the world, standards from the franchise Blossom Tales pulls almost everything from, but omits some of the more interesting aspects that it could have had a fun twist on. Then again, like I said, it takes so much as is, this may be for the best.
The dungeons are the real crown jewel here, all four of which are fun, long, and exceptionally more difficult than any other part of the game. Honestly I was surprised at how much the difficulty jumped when you get into the dungeons, and it’s not necessarily the puzzles, but just the sheer amount of hazards on screen that can tear your hero Lily apart. It seems almost in contrary to the rest of the game, which feels more like an accessible breeze through a fun world, to a dungeon littered with enemies, traps, and damage-inducing walls on almost all sides.
What is most disappointing about the dungeons, and the game as a whole, is the sheer lack of puzzle variety. In fact, there is no puzzle in this game that you haven’t seen almost a thousand times in other adventure games. It’s ice blocks, pushing block puzzles, singing stones (annoying simon-says style puzzles) and walking across gridded floor so as to color in all of the floor and not repeat yourself. All of these have been seen in Zelda before, but a dozen other things, and with absolutely zero variety on top of these, they were wholly uninteresting. There were times when I went into a cave only to find another simon-says style singing stone puzzle and literally just walked about because I did not want to do one again. There were some new attempts here, specifically some puzzles that used the boomerang pretty well, but save for the difficulty of some of these challenges, I was just frustrated by the puzzles repetitiveness most of the time.
I’ll say this, too, the character movement in Blossom Tales is exceptionally “slippery”, for lack of any better word. You don’t really stop on a dime and slip and slide around quite frequently, so I found myself messing up on any puzzles that require you to move and stop or push blocks (see: most of them) and messed up just because I was sliding around more than I was actually making a mistake.
I really had a fun time with Blossom Tales, but its comfort in taking from Zelda is both its biggest strength and its greatest flaw. I don’t think there is much originality here, but what is there is fun and does feel like a great and fun homage. Blossom Tales is not an offensive comp of the Zelda formula, but it adds next to nothing on top of it. If you’re craving a Zelda of the 2D variety on Switch, this is definitely a fun time that doesn’t take itself too seriously. If not, I’d say Blossom Tales isn’t much different from that, if still a fun time regardless.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch with review code provided by the developer.