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The Pop Culture Wing of Hot Corner Harbor

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King Is an Interesting Indie Homage to 2D Zelda Games

A big part of my love for the Nintendo Switch is that it’s a platform highly conducive to indie games. Sure, the big titles like Super Mario Odyssey and Splatoon 2 are incredibly fun, but they’re only part of the experience. Smaller titles like Battle Chef Brigade or Crypt of the NecroDancer or Celeste (more on this one coming soon) have comprised a large chunk of my playing time as well. I like that Nintendo has begun to do more to showcase these titles, which often wear their inspiration from earlier Nintendo games on their sleeve, and Nintendo’s support has made the Switch all the more attractive for independent studios.*

*This isn’t to say that it’s perfect; in fact, I have a lot of opinions on how they can improve their support for these types of games. But it definitely beats the system that’s in place for indie games on, say, Steam, which appears to be “approve everything, and then release something constantly with no notice”.
One of the big success stories from this set up has been Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King from developer Castle Pixel. The game did well enough on Switch to keep the company open after it got lost in the massive shuffle on Steam. It’s not hard to see why it likely resonated with Nintendo fans, though: the game is a clear love letter to the 2-D Legend of Zelda games and others like them. A Link to the Past, in particular, is a clear influence, which is a big part of what convinced me to pick up the game initially; ALttP was my introduction to the Zelda series, the one I’ve played through the most, and still probably my personal favorite entry.

And Blossom Tales definitely feels like playing it’s inspiration, which took me through a weird roller coaster of emotions while playing the game that I wanted to break down because of how unusual they felt. Castle Pixel has done a great job in making a game that feels cozy and familiar, but bright and new simultaneously. The Kingdom of Blossom is a pleasant place to explore, filled with diverse locales to discover; large enough to feel satisfying, but with a helpful and tastefully-restrained fast travel system that hits the fine balance of making reaching every last corner not feel like a chore, but also not making it feel like you’re just skipping by the entire map. The story is pretty straightforward, but with an added Princess Bride-esque framing device of a grandfather telling his children of the adventures of new knight Lilly, which is both charming and a useful reminder of what to do when you pick the game back up.