Prince of Persia
First posted on 19 February 2006. Last updated on 09 August 2009.
|Prince of Persia is among the earliest action adventure games.|
|Ah, the sword! If only you can make the jump!|
|Another dungeon guard tries to spill your blood.|
Prince of Persia may not exactly be an adventure game in its truest form, but it is a series that certainly deserves attention as among the best of the classic computer and console games. Created by Jordan Mechner, Prince of Persia is his second game project after Karateka, another classic that has long been a popular game on the Commodore and Apple platforms.
The story of Prince of Persia begins when the Sultan decides to leave his country to fight in a foreign land and places the Grand Vizier Jaffar to rule in his place. The Grand Vizier, an evil tyrant, immediately grows jealous of the princess whom he sees to be an obstacle in his path to total power. She is now given a single hour to give in to his demand or face a certain death. Her only hope is for you, her brave lover, to rescue her from her impending doom. Unfortunately, you have thrown into Jaffar's dungeon. Therefore, you must escape the perilous dungeon within the hour and rescue the fair princess.
The graphics in Prince of Persia may be lacking by today's standard, but they are some of the best for the time during which the game is released. Not only does the game make good use of the VGA standard to put together a pleasant palette of bluish and fleshly tones, the game's real strength lies in the fluidity of the game characters' movement with its graphics engine. Feeling the agile jumping, running, gliding motions of your character flow from every key press is highly addictive. I have played this game countless number of times and even I cannot put it down once I have had him galloping a few paces across the screen.
Enhancing the realistic movement of the character is the nifty sound effects played on the Soundblaster—a hardware standard which, like the VGA, is a novelty to the gaming world at that time but has been quick to be adopted by many game developers. I say nifty because the sounds are neither mind-blowing nor impressive, but the patter of the character's feet as he runs along those tiles goes perfectly with the smooth movement of the character in the game. If anything, this game is a great example of minimalism. The graphics are simplistic and the music is sparse. Neither overshadows the tremendous feel of action during play.
Being more an action than adventure game, the gameplay does not quite meet up to the standards which adventure gamers can expect. However, judging the game relative to its own genre, the gameplay is superb and addictive. The controls are easy to handle and the character is very responsive. He runs, walks, and jumps just like a real man. In fact, among the best parts of playing this game for the first time is to discover all the neat acrobatics your character can do.
The game consists of 11 levels where you must face trap doors, switches, spikes, swordfights, and loose tiles, as well as jump over yawning pits which stretch the limits of human agility. True to the storyline, you have given exactly 60 minutes with which to complete the game, though you can save and resume between levels. A most addictive and challenging aspect of this game is that death always results in having to restart the entire level. This may be incredibly frustrating at times, but I have found that a great game such as Prince of Persia has a way of making you forget that you have died and needed to restart a level time after time ad infinitum. Once you finally win the game, you really appreciate your own effort.
Even today, this game is still a hit. The game has spawned numerous sequels and created its own franchise. It is a game that must be played as a perquisite for anyone interested in the history of computer gaming. As an action title, it pulls off the genre splendidly. The dungeon crawling is fun, challenging, surprising, and addictive. As an adventure title, it falls flat except for the puzzles, which are more action oriented than inventory based.
Regardless of your feeling for nostalgic gaming, Prince of Persia is a game that must not be missed. It is a perfect example of how a game needs not to have the latest graphics or the best sounds to be an enduring game. It is an action adventure that is built upon a simple but elegant premise that taps into the part of our psyche yearning for the thrills of exploration and danger.