This is the first entry in a series entitled “Games with Sam” in which I review games from the context of playing with a pre-school-aged child. We will explore his reactions to the game as well as develop skills that are gained from the experience.
“Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King” is a 2D top-down-view adventure game that harkens to the days of Zelda. Every component is an homage to Zelda few other games can not espouse. Opening with another homage to “The Princess Bride”, a brother and sister are being told the story of “The Sleeping King” by their grandfather. This presents a fascinating technique of story-telling where some parts of the story are “customized” by the choices of the brother or sister or, sometimes, by you playing a mediator between the two. You explore an over-world of Blossom referred to Hyrule all but in name. There are humorous tongue-in-cheek references sprinkled throughout the game to give the adult in the room a chuckle for the recognition and the child a chuckle from proximity. Finding items, exploring dungeons, solving puzzles, and defeating bosses offer a nice harmony of action, exploration, and problem-solving to youthful and hungry minds.
The puzzles vary and intermix between fast-paced combat puzzles and slow-paced moving-blocks puzzles which in combination is a nice balance between hand-eye coordination and problem-solving.
Sam was keen on the environmental puzzles that involved using items found, such as bombing cracked walls or lighting torches by shooting arrows through flames. He often referred to past parts of the dungeons becoming available after gaining a new item or key.
Although there are few dungeons, they each have a unique style and “feel”. All had similar puzzle elements whose mechanics change by the “biome”. For example, a sliding block puzzle in the “swamp” dungeon would be solved by sliding it one space at-a-time, whereas, on the “ice” dungeon, the blocks would slide on the ice until it hit an obstruction. None of these puzzles were difficult for an adult, however, they all had simple mechanics which made it accessible and sometimes solvable to Sam.
Boss battles also have small problem-solving skills required for defeating, involving an item found in that boss’ dungeon. None of the “monsters” in this game were frightening to Sam. In a particular instance where some trees had been corrupted by the main antagonist, Sam was eager to “help” them get free of the evil influence, rather than destroy them. Usage of weapons by the protagonist such as a sword, bow-and-arrow, and bombs are abundant, yet there is no gore.
The save system is generous with progress. It saves the game state on every screen transition and when returning to the game it will enter a small story sequence to remind you of your current aim. This makes it great for short gaming sessions since some dungeons are long.
To wrap up on a very pleasant play through, I highly recommend this for playing with a young child (no younger than 4). “Blossom Tales” is much less cryptic than the typical Zelda-esque games where reading comprehension can be a barrier to pre-school aged kids. There were a plethora of visual cues to show where to go and how to solve the puzzles, and I was pleasantly surprised how little dialogue they used for this purpose. It is slightly derivative, however, it offers quite a lot of charm and the graphics and sound effects are evocative for adult and child alike.
Most skills are engaged and reactions are noticeable. Recommended.
- Spacial Awareness: 4⁄5
- Memory Skills: 3⁄5
- Hand-eye Coordination: 2⁄5
- Problem Solving: 4⁄5
- Reading Skills: 2⁄5
- Entertainment: 4⁄5
- Appropriateness: 3⁄5
Reviewed on the PC version through Steam.
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