Although it is now a mega selling 3D adventure franchise for current generation systems, Prince of Persia came from rather humble beginnings. The original Prince of Persia was a much-celebrated 2D action/maze game released back in 1989 on Apple II computers. With the help of its amazing animation and creative use of time limits, Prince of Persia quickly became one of the best games of the era, influencing everything from Out of this World to Flashback. To this day the importance of Prince of Persia is still felt in games like Ico and Tomb Raider, not to mention UbiSoft's very own 3D Prince of Persia titles.
But while everybody is falling head over heels for the brand new Prince of Persia games, there is an entire generation of gamers who are too young to remember how amazing the original 2D game was. Despite the fact that this game has been ported to nearly every game system of the 1990s, there are still people out there that think that Prince of Persia started with The Sands of Time, the 2003 adventure game released on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Thankfully UbiSoft is here to teach those youngsters a history lesson, as well as give some of us more experienced gamers a chance to relive this wonderful adventure in a brand new way.
As the name implies, Prince of Persia Classic is a remake of the 1989 game. All of the level layouts, enemies and traps remain the same, only this time you'll see the game using glorious 3D graphics. This new graphic engine is able to make every inch of Prince of Persia look better than it ever has before; giving new details to even the most inconsequential parts of the environments. But don't worry, just because they've upgraded the graphics and given everything a 3D look, that doesn't mean that this is not a fully 2D experience. The game still plays like it did in 1989, all of the classic 2D moments are accurately recreated, and the castle setting remains the same ... only much, much better looking.
In Prince of Persia you play a nameless orphan living his life on the streets of Persia. After catching a glimpse of the beautiful Princess, our hero knows that he must do everything in his power to win her love and live happily ever after. There's only one problem: The evil Vizier Jaffar seizes control over the throne and gives the beautiful Princess two choices - either marry him, or die! She has sixty agonizing minutes to decide whether or not she's going to live a life of misery, or meet her fate at the hands of the evil Jaffar. Thankfully sixty minutes is more than enough time for our hero to make it through the castle and save this damsel in distress.
The real novelty to Prince of Persia is that you have sixty real-time minutes to save the day. This timer goes a long way to emphasize the urgency of the situation; you don't want to dilly dally around in one spot too long because you never know how much time you'll need to kill Jaffar and convince the Princess that she deserves to be with you. If you know what you're doing you could conceivably beat this game in no more than twenty minutes, yet if you're new to this game you may run out of time long before you even come close to killing Jaffar.
Prince of Persia Classic is split up into fifteen different levels, each area giving you a new set of puzzles to solve and enemies to kill. At first the game is nothing more than just opening up doors and finding the exit, but it won't take long before you have to go up against castle guards, find the right kinds of potions, and figure out how to open the doors without automatically closing them again. The puzzles in this game are never so difficult that you'll be stumped for too long, but remember, you don't have all that much time to spend thinking things out and experimenting ... time is of the essence.
Like its computer counterpart, Prince of Persia Classic has some rather interesting control choices. Because the game's emphasis is on the Prince's amazing animations, the controls can be somewhat unruly. The control is a bit fidgety, and moving our hero into specific locations is often tricky (sometimes to the point of you accidentally falling into a giant hole and dying). But the good news is that it doesn't take long to figure out how the Prince moves and play this game like a pro. This remake also gives you a few different choices on how you control your character, so now you aren't forced to push up to jump, you can simply push the jump button and pull off the move. The fact that so many of the moves are mapped to the various Xbox 360 control buttons makes this a much easier game to get into, had they left the controls as they were back in the Apple II days I suspect that nobody would want to play this game.
Although most of the game is spent running around the castle, Prince of Persia Classic also has a lot of one on one fight sequences. When you run into an enemy your character automatically pulls out his sword and goes into combat mode. Combat was never Prince of Persia's strong suit, but UbiSoft has done quite a bit to improve the overall fighting experience. For the most part the combat requires you to mash the buttons and look for openings in your enemy's defenses. When you aren't mashing and slashing, you can avoid enemy attacks by pushing the A button, which slows down time a little and allows you to dodge the guard's sword swipe. It's imperative to your success that you learn how to successfully dodge the enemy attacks; it's the only way you're going to be able to beat this game (especially when you get to the final two levels). While combat isn't perfect I found this new style of fighting a lot more enjoyable than the simple one on one battles found in the original game. My only real complaint is that no matter how far you are in the game, Prince of Persia Classic continues to remind you to push the A button to dodge the attacks.
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