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Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (Nintendo DS) Review

Review for Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

With the many games he's been headlining since Sands of Time rebooted the series, and a recent movie hitting cinema screens too, few would blame Ubisoft's Prince of Persia for taking a break from wall-running and playing devil's advocate with the laws of time. Yet along comes Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, a release conveniently timed to coincide with the film, despite barely having anything to do with it plot-wise. How does the nimble monarch handle on his latest adventure on the top dog of the handheld gaming world?

As far as the plot for The Forgotten Sands goes, it's a bit of an oddity, in that each version of the game - depending on the platform it is released on - follows a different storyline. The big screen versions tie into the original plotline of the Sands of Time trilogy, but this DS version is based on another part of that storyline, as the Prince awakens in captivity, his memories and powers drained by a malicious cult to resurrect an evil entity. The resulting summoning laid waste to India and reached the kingdom of Persia, where you must guide the Prince to. Aiding him is a magical blade, infused with the soul of Razia, a spirit that gives him his time-altering powers. The cutscene at the beginning of the game is arguably the greatest aspect of the storyline, as it is easily one of the best CGI sequences on DS so far. The rest of the game suggests that most of the effort went into that one scene; all the other story-based sequences are in-game static portrait text, which thankfully doesn't get in the way, but does unfortunately give the package a minimalist feel. The portrayal of an Indian wasteland and the return to a Persian dynasty in both visual and sound stakes are right on the money for authenticity, and although such a setup doesn't allow for a great deal a variety in environments, it isn't too big an issue.

The biggest draw of the DS version, aside from the obvious portability factor, is how the touch-screen is utilised, and Ubisoft have replicated the use of a bazillion buttons into simple strokes and pokes well - though it is not perfect. Forgotten Sands DS takes the form of a 2D platform adventure, with a selection map not unlike that of the Mario games breaking up each level. The whole game is touch-based only, and while in other games like Zelda: Phantom Hourglass players may pine for a good old fashioned D-pad and button combination, it is difficult to imagine such a setup here, as the screen does such an excellent job. The touch-screen is used to move, with both tapping and sliding motions; all of the Prince's moves from previous games you could think of can be used, be it wall-jumping, grinding down walls with the sword, leaping over enemies to deal a finishing blow, hopping between walls - you name it. The main issue with guiding a character via stylus input - namely the feeling of being on autopilot at times - is present, but thankfully it is not too prevalent, and the satisfaction from clearing a particularly hard segment with advanced parkour has never been greater. One area the system falters at, however, is the fighting control; all too often it's imprecise with killing blows, and blocking is as equally painful. Aside from those issues though, the system is more than a match for any button setup you could name.

Screenshot for Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

One of the key elements of the Prince of Persia series is the given ability to control and manipulate time, and here it is handled via your sword's spirit guide, Razia. At the start of the game, both the Prince and Razia are severely weakened due to the ritual bringing out Big Bad from his slumber, and thus you need to defeat his three strong minions to restore Razia's powers. The main and most important power is Rewind, which will get you out of a jam with a single press on the corner of the touch-screen (or a command prompt that appears when you've already bitten the bullet); it's as useful in bad situations as it has ever been. The second is Slow Time, which is rarely vital in the course of the game, but is handy for helping to avoid saws and door timers. The third is the ability to manipulate special sand clouds, which can activate switches out of reach, or even put enemies under your control; a highly useful power through the course of the game. The former two abilities rely on time charges underneath your health bar, so even with frequent checkpoints in the levels, dying is always a possibility. Touch control can be hit-or-miss with the sand ability, but the other two work just fine.

The Forgotten Sands is the second Ubisoft DS game to make use of the DSi camera, and here it is more of an aesthetic addition, in that pointing the lens to a source of light when prompted will unlock challenge levels, new enemies and, the most noteworthy addition of all, the chance to use your own pictures as background fillers. There's nothing substantially game-changing here, but it is nice to see another big-name title utilizing the DSi's extras.

Dotted throughout The Forgotten Sands' levels are green gems, used as currency for a trader on the world map. It is via this addition that the game sees its most substantial boost in replayability, as new costumes, weapon boosts, health bar additions, and more time charge holders demand quite a few gems to purchase. Also hidden in most levels are treasure chests yielding gems of higher value. These are relatively easy to find, but count towards the 100% completion score.

Easy isn't a farfetched a word to describe The Forgotten Sands DS. The playtime offered is a fairly average seven hours or so for a committed player, with a couple more for the extras. Those that enjoy the swift movement offered by the touch control may want another playthrough, but it will only be the main mode keeping the game aloft. For those wanting to try a title that any developer would be hard-pressed to replicate on any system but DS, look no further - but don't expect a game of RPG length.

Screenshot for Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review


The Prince's old tricks feel new again thanks to stylus input, and levels are designed intelligently, with something new in each one. Touch control can be fickle at times, but it's more than competent for this platformer.


Blocky 3D on a 2D plane, more of a chibi style for the characters if anything. The Indian and Persian themes are represented well, if bestowing a low amount of variety and minimalist presentation values.


No voices for in-game text, aside from the Prince's own grunts and groans. Music in general is slightly lacking in variety and tends to repeat often.


Strictly for the single player, a meaty story mode and collectables will keep you playing, but if you didn't enjoy the parkour the first time through the game, the sands won't be the only thing forgotten.

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Good - Bronze Award

About this score
Rated 7 out of 10

A surprising result on what could have been an afterthought, given the minimal presentation, low lifespan and side-story plot. Ubisoft have made some of the best use of the DS touch-screen yet, despite some hits and misses. Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands is definitely a game to consider for gamers wanting to make the most of their DS' unique strengths.

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Staff Member

Should've added in there 'Fans of the series will most definitely want to give this a look', as it is probably them that will enjoy it most. Overall though, enjoyable game, would love to see the Touch Control in another game. Smilie

Mmm, guess I'll rent it to see how it feels.

Staff Member

Oh, btw, demo is up on EU Nintendo Channel. Smilie

Senior ModeratorCubed3 Member

I'll have to give this a go, and especially since I'm C3's very own Prince of Persia finatic...I completed the xbox version the day after I got it.....

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Echoes221 said:
I'll have to give this a go, and especially since I'm C3's very own Prince of Persia finatic...I completed the xbox version the day after I got it.....

Do you know if it's much different to the Wii version? I played the Wii edition for a few hours the other week and really quite enjoyed it (surprised me!).

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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