Sunday, February 7, 2010

Prince of Persia

Broderbund / Hudson Soft / Argent
Super CD-ROM

Contrary to what one may surmise from swordplay-exhibiting screen caps, Prince of Persia is actually more of a strategy/puzzle game than it is an action title. You'll have to figure out the correct route to take through the dungeons of your enemy's palace while solving puzzles, circumventing obstacles, and avoiding the many traps that have been set for you--traps that frequently involve spiked floors, falling planks, and razor-sharp guillotines. You have a great number of techniques at your disposal: in addition to being able to perform standard actions such as running, jumping, and squatting, you can grab hold of ledges and pull yourself up and over them as well as tip-toe your way forward. Your actions in one room can have an effect on objects in other rooms, so it's necessary to memorize the layouts of all twelve levels and determine the order that the rooms in each level must be visited in.

PoP was an ancient game even at the time of its release for the Duo, and there are about a million other versions of it available. But this rendition boasts nice-looking visuals, not to mention a quality soundtrack produced by T's Music.

I liked the game a lot when I first bought it years ago, but I find myself annoyed with a few things when I replay it these days. The combat is horrible: every fight (including the battle with the last boss) can be won in the same manner except that sometimes you have to parry twice instead of once before you can land a blow.

The controls are shoddy, as they are in every other version of the game. Back in the day, the clunkiness was deemed a necessary and forgivable consequence of the phenomenal (at the time) animation, a notion unlikely to mollify players at this point.

And the trial-and-error gameplay becomes wearisome, as you end up replaying simple stretches and monotonous battles just to take another shot at a particularly tricky leap or puzzle.

I still think PoP is a cleverly designed game in a lot of ways, a good one all in all, but superior titles along the same lines have been released since its heyday... titles like Sands of Time and Warrior Within.

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