Every year, myself and some of my closest friends have a “breakup party” for our fantasy football league to commemorate the end of the season. The Champion brags (last year it was me), the loser buys a round of shots for everyone (this year, also me), and everyone gets pretty sauced and has a great time. Usually these breakup parties take place at a local dive bar where the shots are cheap enough that the last-place loser doesn’t go bankrupt while taking his punishment, but last year was different… Because last year we saw a KISS cover band, live.
Now, as someone who’s seen the real KISS live once, I can tell you that their shows are absolutely bonkers. If you don’t know anything about KISS, you should know that they focus just as much on theatrics, pyrotechnics, and over-the-top visuals and costumes as they do with the actual music, which – I assume – makes it pretty tough to emulate when it comes to forming a cover band. The band we saw, “KISS Forever” gave it their best college try, and I’ll be damned if I had anything but a fucking incredible time. Hey, the measly $10 cover and $3 Bud Light drafts definitely helped, but nonetheless – I’d see them again in a heartbeat.
The reason why I’m spending half this blog talking about great cover bands is because I just recently downloaded Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King for Nintendo Switch, and I’m having a damn good time with it. The visuals are crisp vibrant, the story is simple but compelling, and the music is just plain great. All of the above, however, are incredibly reminiscent of Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past. As a matter of fact, it’s kinda like what you’d expect to get from someone who developed a game while someone was describing LttP to them. It’s not an exact clone, but a lot of the imagery, themes, and tropes are spot on. Blossom Tales is that KISS Cover band, but it does a great job paying homage to the real deal.
Blossom Tales opens up to a 16-bit grandpa who’s telling a bedtime story (er, tale) to his two grandkids. He speaks of a lady knight who is tasked with saving her kingdom by waking up the cursed king, who was placed into a magical coma by his evil wizard brother. Throughout Blossom Tales, the kids will actually interrupt the story, which offers some pretty funny Princess Bride-narration moments throughout the game, and can actually change the way the game is played. For example, when entering a new zone for the first time, Grandpa says that the hero is “beset upon by evil archers” but the kids protest, saying they’d rather have her attacked by golems. The player is then given a choice of what they’re about to be attacked by, and then the zone is immediately populated by the chosen enemy. Pretty fun stuff.
The dungeons and puzzles are a little more tame compared to a lot of other top-down hack-and-slash games I’ve played, but they’re just tough enough that you can be sure you’ll have to stop for a moment or two and think about what you’re doing. The bosses are ripped right from the top-down Zelda playbook (which isn’t a bad thing), and the whole story is woven together nicely by Blossom Tales’ charming atmosphere.
Overall, I love Blossom Tales, and I’m about to post this blog, suck down the rest of my coffee and play some more of it (there’s a bunch of side quests – like, a bunch). At $15, it’s a steal for anyone who grew up playing top-down hack-and-slash action/puzzle games, or anyone who’s looking for a 2D Zelda fix but can’t find their old copy of Oracle of Ages. I would highly recommend it.
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