Monday, 7 May 2018

150 SNES games reviewed #26: Prince of Persia

Today’s game is Prince of Persia. Prince of Persia is a fantasy platform game, originally developed by a guy called Jordan Mechner and released in 1989 for the Apple II system.

 


At the time the game was held in high regard. People claimed it represented a great technological leap forward in terms of the quality of animation used in video games. As with most games which do extremely well it was soon ported to just about anything that could cope with it. The SNES version was done by Arsys Software, a company set up by former Technosoft staff members. It was published by Masaya in Japan and Konami in both the US and Europe.

I was thrilled when I originally played a home computer version of this game but the thrill had faded a little bit by the time I played the SNES version. Have you ever played a game and decided that it had the basics down right but that it just lacked something? That there were the bare bones of a classic in place but that the project needed fleshing out? The graphics are plain but the movement is still impressive. For those who have played the original its important to note that the SNES version is in fact longer, consider it sort of a director’s/extended cut. Instead of the original 13 levels, this version has 20. In the original you had one hour to complete the game but this has been increased here to two hours due to the added length. It is great to see so much added to this conversion in terms of gameplay, and it helps make this game worth considering if you have already seen what it has to offer on an earlier release on a different platform.



The game offers a good, if basic, story and a good degree of challenge. You won’t be finishing this game quickly. In fact you will probably make slow, steady progress punctuated with bouts of swearing. I  praise the game for its atmosphere and challenge but there is also a lot I have to say about the things that bug me. My main gripe with the game is that at times the controls feel kind of skiddy. Now we’re not getting into awful control territory here like Ultraman but they’re just not as crisp as I would like them. Often you will need to stop running before you run off a ledge and fall to your doom. You just feel that little bit too skiddy for my liking meaning often you’ll end up turning the air blue as you plummet to your death. The game is also more or less silent and although the movements in the game look impressive there could be a lot more flavour added in to the graphics. When it comes to presentation it just seems like a very bare bones production which is a shame. I guess after having seen the Konami name on the European box I had sort of expected a Konami level of presentation. That’s the thing when you put someone else’s logo on your product by having them publish it for you. It can act as good publicity as people can be pulled in by a well known name, but it can also come as a curse as those names and logos come with a reputation you then find your product having to try to live up to.

There are other games though that came out after this title which I feel used this game as a stepping stone and in doing so managed to offer a much fuller, richer experience, and you might be better off spending your hard earned money on one of these. (I won’t name them as I plan on eventually reviewing one or two of them.) I think influences from this game can still be seen in some games today, I think there is a definite case to make that this game was an incredibly important piece of software which helped shape so many titles which followed in its wake, much in the same way as Super Mario Kart helped to birth seemingly a million character-filled go kart racing games. Prince of Perisa’s DNA can be felt in more places than I can name, tunnelling its way through action platformer after action platformer. Of course as most people are aware the Prince of Persia name has lived on well into the more recent gaming environment with an awesome trilogy of games carrying the name and some of the original DNA appearing on the PS2 , Xbox and GameCube.

I would give this game seven out of 10. It can be frustrating but it is also incredibly rewarding. Every time you play you will get a little bit further, you will solve another puzzle or you will work out where you are supposed to be going just before you die. It has a very strong just one more go quality. I do think you need to think long and hard about the kinds of games you like before purchasing this though. If you don’t mind slowly making progress and learning from your mistakes then you will benefit more from the game, if you like instantaneous rewards and a game you can very easily make quick progress in then this probably is not the game for you.

My copy of Prince of Persia is a loose Japanese cart which I managed to get for a couple of quid a few years ago. If you really wanted to give this game a go you would be looking at paying between £15 to £25 for a PAL copy, depending on how lucky you are and if this game has a box and manual or not. I have seen a few boxed US copies going for as little as £13 if you have a converter or modified or import system.

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