Prince of Persia (PC) Review

By Athanasios 04.06.2019

Review for Prince of Persia on PC

Don't know how many will agree with that, but the VGA DOS visuals of the late '90s has provided some of the most good-looking games ever, despite (or maybe, because of) their limitations - similar to how charming the simplistic graphics of the NES still seem to be. One of the prettiest examples was the original Prince of Persia. Yes, it wasn't as spectacular as, say, 1990's The Secret of Monkey Island, but the use of rotoscoping provided a stunning, especially for that time, quality of character animation. Is there anything more than that in here, though? More importantly, how can someone find any enjoyment in something that doesn't involve the more impressive aspects of subsequent titles, like acrobatics, time reversal, actual storytelling, and so on? Take a trip 30 years back into the past, to learn all about it.

This is your standard damsel-in-distress quest, just one taking place in an Arabian Nights setting. The eponymous wannabe prince is just a simple nobody, and must save said damsel from the clutches of an evil Grand vizier, who gives her a simple choice: die within 60 minutes, or... well... you know! Needless to say that, because of the era this came out on, a grand epic this is not. There are no cut-scenes (besides some tiny peeks in the room of the princess), no dialogue, and no extra lore to discover - and yet this manages to be quite the immersive experience.

Apart from the tension-increasing time limit, the atmosphere of the dungeons you must brave is superb, despite a lack of variety on their part. Their design isn't simple, but beautiful in its simplicity. It's minimalism at its best, with very little detail besides the blue-ish stone of the corridors, the few torches, and the almost tangible blackness of the background. It's also great how there's no music, something that adds a slightly realistic vibe to what is essentially a swords-and-sandals, swashbuckling adventure that takes place in the East.

Screenshot for Prince of Persia on PC

Extra mention should be given to what is probably the main selling point of the game, or at least the one element that most remember it for. The developer of Prince of Persia made use of rotoscoping, which means that each frame of animation was traced over photographs, essentially making the "prince" move in an uncannily realistic manner. This technique has been used for the few enemies that you'll have to fight as well, but in all honesty, these fellows don't do much, so, yeah, the main star in terms of animation is... well, the main star.

Animation, shmanimation, though. What matters is the gameplay, right? Thankfully, this is very good as well, yet those whose relationship with platformers hasn't deviated from the world of Super Mario and the like, should be aware that this controls a lot differently. Namely, movement is slower, step-based, and more... robotic, if you will. The hero doesn't move like a typical videogame character, but more like an actual human being, and as such, must be carefully handled when having to leap over a pit, or climb down from a ledge.

Screenshot for Prince of Persia on PC

Most hardcore fans of the original will probably tell you that the controls are perfect. They aren't. True, they work alright, but they are extremely demanding when it comes to inputs, meaning that button presses require an almost annoying level of timing that needs some taking used to. It should also be noted that, again due to the realism of it all, certain actions have a slight delay, similar to one of the game's many spiritual ascendants, 1996's Tomb Raider. That, of course, isn't a flaw, just a note of caution for those who dislike such type of gameplay.

The is some sword clashing to be had, which, for the era this was made for, was surprisingly different than the typical hacking and slashing found in most games, as fights, just like the platforming, lean more towards the realism side of things, with the hero having to time when to hit or block - nothing too fancy, sure, but, again, quite original for its time. Nevertheless, sword fighting is just a tiny part of the experience. The main deal was trying to safely reach the end of each level - while the one hour time limit was counting towards zero, with a typical stage having you jumping over pits, avoid triggering off traps or standing on loose floor panels, and so on and forth.

Screenshot for Prince of Persia on PC

Being a true old-school game, reaching the end demands a pretty determined soul, which could resist throwing the PC out of the window upon failing to make "that darn jump" for the tenth time, a mistake which would send said soul to the beginning of the level. Aside from a strong will and tons of patience, though, Prince of Persia is, sadly, a retro classic that has lost part of its lustre throughout the years. It's fun, yes, but it's also a bit too repetitive, and even needs a bit of trial-and-error, every now and then.

More specifically, it lacks variety. The difficulty rises the closer one gets to the end, but the gameplay doesn't really feel like it evolves, with all obstacles feeling a rehash of the previously conquered ones. You've completed a section that had you jump over three pits? The next level will have you do that again, with a loose panel thrown into the mix. It's an adventure that's too long for what's on offer, with very few surprises along the way. In fact, the only "true" surprise is a sword fight near the end, which also adds a puzzle element to it all - but one sparrow can't bring the spring.

Screenshot for Prince of Persia on PC

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

As the progenitor of cinematic platformers, Prince of Persia is definitely an important classic of videogame history. In all honesty, however, when it comes to the fan factor alone, there's little reason to go back to it, other than to make a nice trip into the past. It's definitely an enjoyable experience, but one that feels kind of barren and repetitive, especially for those who aren't wearing their nostalgia lenses.

Developer

Broderbund

Publisher

Broderbund

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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