Who'da thunk back in 1990 that the little black and white platform game (of course
it was in colour, but back when magazine design used paste-up we didn't have colour monitors!) that we played pirated copies of at Future Publishing (hey, we didn't know any better, piracy hadn't been invented then) would go from strength to strength to become the confusingly named Prince of Persia
game I am about to review?
The correct answer, of course, is ?Anyone with a heart and a brain?. But in those crazy early days of video gaming, few of us had either of those. That ancient 2D game had a certain something: a flow to the action and smoothness to the animation that resulted in almost universal acclaim.
There was a second 2D version and then a seemingly interminable wait for the 3D version that came in 1999. The game was then rebooted and much of its charm lost with the Sands of Time
series. Now it receives another reboot and, as with all good reboots, this one ignores the past completely and calls itself confusingly, but simply Prince of Persia
The new game follows the traditional themes of the series, in that there is a prince, there is a princess and there is derring-do and danger. The prince is nameless as usual, and the object of his protection (and presumably, once the action is over, sexual attention) is Elika.
The prince is returning to his kingdom with his donkey Farah, which is heavily laden with gold. They are caught in a sandstorm, and the prince loses Farah. While he is searching for her, he stumbles upon Elika (or more accurately, she tumbles upon him) who is being pursued by some apparently antagonistic warriors. Being a man of honour the prince steps in to assist Elika, despite her appeal for him not to do so, and he is embroiled into her storyline...
Elika, it turns out, is a princess, and she is being pursued by, or is pursuing - it is far from clear - her father who, for reasons known only to himself, plans to release an age-old demon, Ahriman, into the world. As the story unfolds, so does the nature of the gameplay. As the prince chases after and defends Elika, players learn how to make him climb and jump. As her father's minions attempt to block our protagonists' way, we learn how the prince fights.
Visually, Prince of Persia
is a treat. It has a distinctive graphical effect that is part cel-shading, part posterizing, with strong outlines. The end result is almost like a watercolour illustration. Description does it no favours, but it is incredibly beautiful.
The character animation, too, is excellent! The prince and Elika move in a way that is graceful and smooth. Elika herself is a comely maiden, clad in a blouse that has seen better days. It fits her extremely well proportioned frame tightly, and billows and flows with the lightest passing breeze in a way that suggests that it is delightfully diaphanous.