Reviewer’s Note: I have not 100% completed the game yet due to time frames and I wish to encapsulate every waking moment on recorded video for further review purposes. However, I am 100% confident that what I state below is entirely accurate and reflects what I hope is the rest of the game. If an edit is needed in time, I will show that here. Thank you for understanding!
Straight to the point, I have two vital things I need to start off with this review:
1.) As I’m typing this, I want to play even more of this game.
2.) If you love The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past, you should have bought this game yesterday.
This is Castle Pixel’s second game since their creation, with Rex Rocket, screaming with Mega Man throwbacks, as their first title. I’m not here to hard pitch that, however. Not today, anyhow. What we have here is an S2S (Steam to Switch, OC term DO NOT STEAL) that brings the serenading herald of angels. This game… oh man, this freaking game. It’s good. It’s so good. Blathering about my post-video-game-coitus isn’t going to do anyone any justice though, so let’s dive into the details about why this game is so freaking great. Check out my video below as I play the first thirty minutes. You’ll understand.
A lot of people say that Darksiders was an homage, a love letter to The Legend of Zelda in that it pulled a lot of similar mechanics that we see in your green hero’s series. The same could be said for Blossom Tales, except it’s less a love letter and more of a threatening note demanding ransom. Ransom for what though, exactly? The game is holding the entire premise of the Super Nintendo’s Link to the Past hostage and waving a sword at random passerby, daring anyone to recognize what it’s doing. It might be too far as to say that it’s a Zelda clone, but talk on the street has been exactly that, and I can totally see why.
To be fair, and to the developer’s credit, the grandfather who is telling the story wanted to first talk about a lad dressed in green from some mystical world that started with “Hy” before hastily being cut off by impatient grandchildren and Nintendo lawyers alike.
Such as I said, this is a story that is being narrated by a grandpappy who appears to be making it entirely up as he goes. This seems more obvious when his grandkids cut him off occasionally and suggesting changes to the plot, like whether or not a bandit leader should be a Ninja Overlord or a Pirate Queen. For the most part, however, the story is like how any other starts; having just joined the Knights of the Rose, Link- I mean, Lily, sorry, is knighted as a defender of the realm by King Orchid. His jealous and rather atrocious looking brother, a snotty wizard by the name of Crocus, gives the knights a blessing before sauntering off. Tasked with clearing the local dungeon of rats, Lily soon discovers that Crocus is, in fact, the evil antagonist of the game and plots world domination! Slapping the king with some sleep spells, Crocus disappears and leaves the kingdom in disarray. It’s up to Lily and the rest of the rather dim-witted knights to seek out the three ingredients to awaken the king, each conveniently trapped in dungeons guarded by terrifying creatures. Quickly enough you’re left to your own devices as you get to explore the overworld, filled with riches, obstacles, and ne’er-do-wells ready to kick your can in.
If you want to, I can name off why it’s so similar to Zelda, and get that out of the way. Here, this is me spewing for a hot minute here, actual interested patrons feel free to skip this.
You start off with three hearts. The evil wizard is identical to Agahnim. They use an energy based meter for stuff like bombs and arrows. Bombs and arrows. Heart pieces. A spin attack. Majora Mask style platform jumping. Teleportation. Puzzle solved jingles. There’s a village whose music starts off as Zelda’s lullaby. Traveling salesman who wants to sell you a heart container for 100 rupees. Themed dungeons with featured mini-boss, dungeon chests with usable weaponry or tools, and a final baddie that drops a heart container when you defeat it. Monsters that look like zoras, octoroks, bubbles (the skull guys), and angry crows. So much freaking more.
I’m not saying the above listed is bad, not at freaking all. In fact, the moment I began moving Lily around, I felt like I had another sequel to Link to the Past in my hands, and everything felt naturally right. Everything is pixelated smoothly and with outstanding detail. The monster AI is jarringly sporadic as I learned that each enemy reacts to you differently. The mid bosses and boss fights that I have knocked out, however, have been a mixed bag of emotions. Sometimes it felt perfect and that when I lost, it was because I was being an idiot and not reading the flow of the fight correctly. Other times it felt like the item I was using, most notably the bomb, was not responding to how I needed it to act, and I was constantly trying to scramble to throw one versus dropping it right next to me in a boss arena.
A lot of my time was spent in dungeons, and while the first one was mostly training and forgiving, the second one took the training wheels right off and kicked me off a cliff. Merciless dungeon exploration with a ruthless checkpoint system awaited me when I died. Many a times I had to do almost 5-10 minutes of going from the very beginning of a dungeon to a point of progress, only to die and have to repeat the trogging. Granted, the puzzles didn’t need to be redone and the only thing that respawned was enemies, but having to hack and slash through half a dozen rooms because one area was too hard was very discouraging.
The music is innovative and inspiring, especially during combat sequences. I swear it was the pounding beat of the boss themes that had me more into the game than the actual fight itself. Power brick, 8 bit music never sounded so good. Here, take a listen!
Overall, I’m told it’s about an 8-hour game that is $14.99 on the eShop. It’s also out on Steam as mentioned but I cannot guarantee the same exact experience. I wholeheartedly enjoy this game, and never felt so giddy to have a chance to review a game until I tried this title. It might not be the perfect Zelda game those hardcore fans are hunting for, but what we did get was instead a better find; a unique, action-filled adventure about Lily trying to save the world of Blossom, and that’s more than enough for a diehard like me. Two thumbs up, Castle Pixel!