Prince of Persia Classic enters the world of Xbox Live Arcade as a souped-up retro title. Despite retro titles usually asking for 400 MS Points, PoP developer Gameloft has been cheeky enough to charge 800 MS Points instead. Is it justified? Or is this another retro game that should be left to rot on the servers?
While the Sultan is out of the country waging wars, Grand Vizier Jaffar takes over control in Persia. The problem is that Jaffar really wants to get into the pants of the Sultan’s daughter to become the new ruler, but unfortunately for him, she’s in love with someone else so she refuses to marry him. Evil Jaffar doesn’t take rejection very well and he leaves her with a choice, she can either marry him or die. To make things worse, she has only one hour to decide. That someone else she’s in love with is you, but unfortunately Jaffar’s henchman have thrown you in the dungeon so you’re not really in the position to stop him, or are you? Apparently this dungeon is a very dangerous maze with all kinds of traps and enemies, but luckily for you there’s also an exit. Your objective is to reach the exit, kill Jaffar, rescue the princess and live happily ever after.
A couple of things have changed since the original version of the game, most noticeably are of course the graphics. The development team delivered some fine work, the new 3D engine makes sure that the game has up to date graphics despite the fact that this is an old-fashioned platform game. Apart from the graphics, a few new unlockable game modes have been added which are quite self-explanatory. The normal mode is the regular game mode where the main objective is to naturally play level after level until the end is reached. There are also Time Attack and Survival modes. In time attack, the objective is to try and finish the game as quickly as possible, which is especially suitable for leaderboard comparison. The Survival mode is by far the toughest. Only one life is available, and it is a mad dash to reach the end in under an hour. If such a feat is achieved, the prize is a very kind 25 Gamerscore Points. There is also the oppurtunity to attempt to set a time record for each level contained within normal mode, which turns out to be quite fun since a ghost image of the last run made can be enabled, allowing players to see if they have fallen behind.
The levels have remained the same in terms of layout compared to the ‘89 version, but the combat system has changed quite a bit. After a sword has been found in the first 14 levels, it allows for players to battle on a more level playing field against a variety of different guards. Some of them are quite easy to chop down, but others carry a shield and can be quite a pain in the ass. Attack moves and defence moves need to be timed properly to kill the guards, especially later on in the game. If the Prince is hit, it’s not too big a deal since there are potions scattered throughout the dugeon that will either heal the Prince or extend the life bar.
It’s very unfortunate that the game has very little replay value, the newly added game modes won’t entertain most people very long. You keep running around in the same levels and it’s always the same path that leads to the exit. Admittedly this isn’t really the fault of the developers, it’s just a game mechanic from almost 20 years ago. Even if you do manage to get stuck, there’s always the sparkling little butterfly flying around that shows where to go next. The butterfly can be turned off though, allowing dead ends to be explored which might even reveal a hidden potion. Another feature that makes the game easier is the addition of checkpoints, meaning death isn’t the end, as the prince will just be warped back to the last checkpoint. Upon respawn, full health is granted, but lost time is gone forever.
Most of the Achievements for this game are pretty standard, and at least 10 out of 12 won’t give the feeling that anything has been achieved. For example, one of the Achievements is that you need to collect your sword, but in order to complete the first level, a sword is required so that’s not really a big accomplishment. Completing the game within the hour is an accomplishment on the other hand, especially if you haven’t played the game before and have no idea of the layout of the levels. Jumping around and avoiding the traps isn’t that hard, but the combat system takes some getting used to, and the game doesn’t really explain how the fighting mechanic work exactly, so it’s up to the player to experiment; some trial and error is needed to fully comprehend it.
The platform elements in the game are pretty straightforward and perhaps even repetitive, but due to the time pressure they’re always a challenge. Simple things such as crossing chasms or avoiding deadly spikes can be your downfall if moving too quickly, but there’s little choice if racing against the clock. Without spoiling too much, there are a couple of surprising elements in the game which make it a little more interesting and entertaining, but even that won’t change the fact that the storyline is as thin as a thread. The difficulty of the game builds up nicely up until a point where it doesn’t really get much tougher anymore. Enemies reach their maximum skill level and the acrobatics you have to perform don’t get any harder. Depending on how many health bar potions the player has found, the mini-bosses and Jaffar himself are very doable.
It can’t be ignored that Prince of Persia’s replay value is pretty low, but the time spent with the game is great fun. Learning the game, completing the regular mode and then doing some of the other game modes should keep you busy for a few hours, but then that’s pretty much it. Prince of Persia probably has some of the best graphics to date on the Arcade, it can even match some retail titles which is a truly great accomplishment of the developers with only 50MB available. Is it worth the 800 MS Points? Definitely, the few cons of the game don’t weigh up against the solid gameplay and good looking graphics. Prince of Persia is an example of how all retro games should be redone.
Final Score: 8 out of 10 â€“ Good (How do we rate games?)