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SummaryA game you'll remember for many reasons...
The Good"Prince of Persia" is one of those genre-defining classics, and bears an historical importance similar to that of Alone in the Dark or Doom. Without "Prince of Persia", the platform action/adventure genre would have probably never crossed the border between mushroom-eating jump-and-run entertainment for kids and serious video gaming. To mention just some of the game's marvels:
Yes, the game will be remembered for all this...
The Bad...Yet it will be also remembered for being one of the most frustrating games ever created. The reason for this frustration is its absolutely insane difficulty level. First of all, the game imposes a time limit on you. It certainly adds a lot to the realistic scenario of the game (Jaffar won't wait for you to rescue the princess once the time is up, as he probably wouldn't in real life), but it also makes the game almost impossible to beat without restarting several times. And what's more, it absolutely kills the player's desire to explore. The levels in "Prince of Persia" are built in a non-linear way, i.e., at almost any given screen you can proceed either to the left or to the right, and often climb up or down. Usually, only one way is the right one to proceed, while the others are either dead ends or - in best case - contain some useful items, such as healing potions. However, you will hardly have any time left for those potions. If you are playing "Prince of Persia" for the first time, it is more than likely you won't be able to tell right away which way is the correct one and which is just a waste of time. That leads to delays in your quest, that will reveal themselves as fatal once you realize you simply don't have enough time to complete the game. Naturally, the first time you play the game you also won't know how long it is, how hard the next level will be for you to pass it quickly, what enemies will you encounter and where, and so on. Imagine what it is to have just one enemy left to complete the game and to run out of time just when you approach him... That would mean restart a level, but what if you rushed through the couple of last levels as quickly as you could, and the lethal delay occurred somewhere in the middle of level 2? Do you see my point?..
It is, in fact, nearly impossible to complete the game without consulting a walkthrough - or losing one's mind. Recently I've been capturing some screenshots for the Genesis version of the game, using an emulator, that allowed me to save my progress in the game whenever I wanted. Guess what - even using this handy feature, which made the game much easier, I was still stuck at most levels, and finally gave up playing. The game is so hard that anyone who actually finished it in less than a lifetime should be awarded a prize. There won't be even one moment where you are able to feel relief. The levels are very large, and once you die, you have to restart the whole level again. You die constantly. One step too much - and the princess will have to marry the ugly Jaffar. You fall down from ledges, step on spikes, get killed by skeletons, or get crushed by teeth-like traps. But the most horrifying part of the game is its jumping controls. To make a long jump, you'll need more than just precise timing - you'll also need luck, because it is impossible to tell exactly when you have to press the jumping button. It is also impossible to tell whether you'll be able to jump over a gap or not, making a large portion of "Prince" nothing but annoying, tedious trial-and-error gameplay. Sometimes you'll be able to perform a difficult and dangerous jump, only to find out you've reached a dead end, and sometimes you'll be sure a gap is impossible to jump over, and will spend hours and hours trying to figure out where to go next, and then more hours and hours after consulting a walkthrough and trying to jump over that gap. Many puzzles are timed: for example, you'll have to step on a tile and then rush back to the other end of the dungeon, overcoming again all the obstacles you thought were already behind you, only to find you were too slow, the gate you opened by pressing the tile is closed again, and you'll have to go back to that tile and to start it all over and to lose precious time...
You get the point. To complete just several levels of "Prince of Persia", you'll need to have the patience of a saint. To complete the entire game, you'll need to have the patience of an angel. To complete it without breaking down your keyboard or committing suicide, you'll need to have the patience of a person who is using Windows '98. "Prince of Persia" is so hard, that at a certain point, it is not fun any more.