Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

aka: Bosi Wangzi: Shi zhi Sha, Princ Persii: Peski Vremeni, Prince of Persia 4, Prince of Persia: Jikan no Suna, Prince of Persia: Las Arenas del Tiempo, Prince of Persia: Le Sabbie del Tempo, Prince of Persia: Les Sables du Temps, Prince of Persia: Piaski Czasu, Prince of Persia: Písky času
Moby ID: 11185
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Description official descriptions

The King and the Prince of Persia are besieging the Maharajah's castle to plunder the treasures hidden inside. In order to impress his father, the Prince sneaks inside to recover the magical Dagger of Time. He quickly learns that this dagger has the ability to control time. The malevolent Vizier has other plans for the dagger, however, and tricks the Prince into unlocking a mysterious secret of the Dagger that causes the King and many of his subjects to be turned into sand zombies. Now, the Prince must figure out what has happened and try to set things right again.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is an action game with platforming and puzzle-solving elements. It updates many of the gameplay concepts from the previous games, and brings them into a fully three-dimensional world. The Prince will engage in sword fighting, wall climbing, spike dodging, puzzle solving, and more in his quest. The Prince also carries the Dagger of Time, which allows him to unleash several magical powers. The most important of these powers is the ability to reverse time. This ability allows the player to reverse their actions when they lead the Prince to his death.


  • Принц Персии: Пески Времени - Russian spelling
  • 波斯王子:时之砂 - Simplified Chinese spelling
  • 波斯王子:遺忘之砂 - Traditional Chinese spelling

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Credits (PlayStation 2 version)

250 People (223 developers, 27 thanks) · View all

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Average score: 91% (based on 115 ratings)


Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 236 ratings with 10 reviews)

The Arabian Knight Returns

The Good
As the sun arose, the Grand Vizier betrayed his Maharajah and signaled the forces of the King of Persia. They sprang upon the waking city which quickly fell before them and none was braver or bolder than the Persian Prince. Time and again, his blade found flesh, but his quest was not for blood but for glory. The Maharajah's Treasure Room was yet to be found, but the Prince would find its location and disarm its traps, bringing the Dagger of Time back to his father. Then, on the road home, laden with slaves, plunder, and an enchanted hourglass, the Persian Army stopped at a friendly Caliph's Palace. Here the Dagger of Time and the Hourglass of Time would come into contact, the Sands of Time spilling forth and swallowing all life. All but the Prince— was he protected by the Dagger of Time? But wait, there's one of the slave girls and where is the Vizier?

Such is the premise of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, an action/adventure game set within the huge environments of the Palace and its grounds. With aid from Farah, the slave girl with noble bearing, the Prince must find a way to undo what was been done. For, as the Prince tells us, "Most people think time is like a river that flows swift and sure in one direction. But I have seen the face of time and I can tell you they are wrong. Time is an ocean in a storm."

The Prince faces two major obstacles in his quest: Sand Creatures and the Palace itself. The Sands of Time have made zombies of the Palace residents, from the Harem girls to the famed birds in the Caliph's aviary. The Prince can strike them down again and again, but there is no final death until the Prince uses the Dagger of Time to drain the Sands away from them. That isn't all the Dagger can do. As the Prince progresses in the game, the Dagger gains the power to bend Time—hasten or slow events, or rewind events up to ten seconds in the past.

As for the Palace, between the destructive nature of the Sands and the traps which have been enabled, it is a perilous place to visit. Luckily for the Prince, he has some fancy moves. In addition to running and jumping, he can run along a wall or run up a wall, swing from various bars and do all manners of flipping and tumbling. While all this should feel lifted from The Matrix or Hong Kong action movies, it seems more like a natural extension of the Prince's abilities from the 2D games. Although, in those games, if the Prince fell to his death, it was game over; in this one you can rewind (or reload). Also unlike those games, the path is not always clear. Much of the fun of this game (probably eighty percent of it) is looking around the huge environments and figuring out what must be done. Is there a button that can be pressed by running along a wall? Can you leap from a broken column to a rope? Is that chasm narrow enough to leap from side to side down? There is some help in the form of visions the Prince has when he encounters Sand Portals (which also serve as Save Points) these visions show what may, or may not, come to pass.

The other twenty percent is action. Prince of Persia has the most fluid, articulated combat I've seen. Collision detection is top notch—I've inched away from enemy blades and narrowly deflected blows. Apart from just pressing the attack button, there are many advanced attacks the Prince will have to use to defeat his enemies: flipping over them and attacking them from behind, launching his self off walls, and more. More challenging, there are some enemies immune to special attacks, they'll throw you down if you try to leap over them or knock you aside.

Prince of Persia has an excellent story narrated by the Prince which allows for great payoffs like him saying, "No no, that didn't happen," if he dies or promising to pick up the story from save points. There is more character development than I expected from an action platformer, chiefly related to the relationship between the Prince and Farah, but also in growth of the Prince's character.

Graphics are breathtaking, offering huge environments with stunning detail. Prison cells have graffiti, heat from torches creates a shimmering effect, and this game passes the beautiful waterfall test. The character models move believably and have a Disneyesque level of detail—actually the game kind of feels like Aladdin and Jasmine versus the Army of Darkness. Sound is also incredible. Voice work, music, and ambient effects are all tremendous. Every element combines to create an immersive gaming experience, making this a modern classic.

The Bad
My one major complaint about Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time has to do with combat. I mentioned above that creatures only die when drained by the Dagger of Time, but there are often many waves of creatures. And the Prince is always outnumbered, even with Farah's assistance (using her Bow of Friendly Fire—don't ask). So combat is slick, stylish, smooth, etc… and goes on for way too long. With the exception of a few boss battles, combat in this game only serves to lengthen game play.

Which is my second complaint. Or observation. You can beat this game in a weekend. And other than spotting a few secret areas, there aren't branching paths or multiple endings which add a replay value. Not that you wouldn't want to re-experience this masterpiece, but as DarkDove mentions, it's even shorter the second time around.

The Bottom Line
I'm still amazed at the tremendous amount of thought that went into this game. If you pay attention, you can spot how Farah is able to make her way through the Palace when she isn't with the Prince. There are incredible puzzles equal to any in a traditional adventure game. And you have to love how carvings actually add to the story, rather than act as wallpaper. All that and off-hand references to obscure Persian heroes!

PlayStation 2 · by Terrence Bosky (5375) · 2004

Great game for any one.

The Good
Great story line that kept the game interesting. The character design was really awesome and made the game very fun to play. The puzzles were easy enough to solve but weren't to easy. The different swords made combat fun and turning back time was fun and got me out of a couple of difficult spots.

The Bad
Sometimes you don't have enough time to use your time orbs so you just waste time turning time back and forth as you see yourself die several times. Also, i was really confused with what i had to do in the part after you and the girl go into a bath. I had no idea what was going on so i was just going in random doors.

The Bottom Line
A game for all action/puzzle solvers libraries.

Xbox · by Todd Bello (28) · 2006

It's like music!

The Good
As if we needed more proof that nostalgia sells more games than originality, here we have another next-generation revival of a classic game series: Prince of Persia, which everyone must remember from it's glory days of 2D platforming. However for the poor Prince, this isn't his first "resurrection" as he was brought to the brand new world of 3D adventure once before in a title that only brought embarrassment to anyone that came into contact with it. It is thanks to that title that my expectations for "Sands of Time" were pretty low, however Ubisoft proved with this title that they really have a midas touch lately, and thus they developed a game that is nothing short of genius.

Not concerned with following the original game's chronology, the game casts you as yet another "Prince of Persia" who (along with his father) gets tricked into invading a kingdom by an evil Vizier (who else?) in order for him to get his hands into the magical "Sands of Time" held there. The problem for the Vizier comes when our glory-seeking Prince goes beyond the call of duty and takes a dagger that holds the key to the sands as a trophy in the invasion. After a failed attempt by the Vizier to get the dagger, the Prince unleashes the sands by mistake and turns everyone in his castle to some kind of sand-zombies with only himself, the Vizier and a mysterious girl remaining alive. It's up to the Prince and his newly found ally to now make their way through the castle and face the Vizier with the hope to turn everything back to normal.

As expected, the gameplay follows most of the 3D action-adventure rules, you have to jump and run around, crawl through ledges and slash at whatever comes your way. But Ubisoft added an innovative batch of gimmicks and refined the "classic" bits of the genre so as to make it an almost perfect game. The main flow of the game follows the classic design of the series, which has you sorting all sorts of traps and pitfalls through acrobatic stunts. These include jumping around, rolling, mantling, climbing ladders, bouncing off-walls, pole-swinging and in a cool Matrix-inspired addition, even running on walls! Combat uses a simple scheme of two-attack buttons plus a block one, which is easily one of the best combat systems ever implemented (so good in fact, that it became the focus of the sequel: Warrior Within) opponents are auto-locked as expected nowadays (meaning your movement automatically switches to circle-strafing around the closest enemy). As it often happens in these games however, you are easily surrounded by several opponents and anyone who's ever had a fight in these games is surely familiar with the uncomfortable feeling of having to maneuver what's essentially a giant cardboard box that can only strike in one direction and has to line up to every enemy accordingly... Well, not anymore thanks to Sands of Time! Since the game incorporates the ability to direct your attacks by just pressing the direction your desired opponent is in while you strike. This doesn't mean that your Prince jerks back and forth facing each direction you direct him to, but instead means that he actually twists his torso, kneels and leans towards each direction in a completely dynamic manner. If that alone sounds incredible just wait until you see the way the game works around it, as the added fluidity and adaptability of the combat scheme means your opponents can strike you faster and come in bigger numbers. The results are incredibly dynamic battles that for the first time make fighting in these kind of games a true joy, and that's without taking into account the pre-made yet varied and extremely well done animations that makes each blow and parry a different experience or the acrobatic stunts that allow you to vault over your opponents and bounce between them and strike from above, etc. Most impressive of all however, is how the folks at Ubisoft managed to keep it from getting a completely confusing frenzy by carefully judging the timing in the movements, animations and opponents. One can't help but feel that each fight has a distinct... I dunno... "tempo" as if it were music of some kind, with a rhythm of it's own. Just look at the way the prince holds it's stance after performing a strike as if waiting for the right cue for his next action, blocking and countering are even more obvious as you can distinctively feel the constant pauses between each movement. I don't know, maybe I've had too much of the funny smokes, but no other fighting scheme has ever made feel such things, (except for Virtua Fighter, of course).

Anyway, for as amazing as those gimmicks seem, they pale in comparison with the gimmick that initially sold the game, and which is the time-altering powers of the sands of time the Prince wields. Held in your dagger as a collection of sand tanks, you can use them in a variety of ways such as freezing your opponents in time, make you move at blinding speeds (by putting everything but yourself into slow-motion) and of course, reversing time. That's right, the game actually keeps a constant buffer of some kind of up to 10 seconds of playtime which you can always rewind back to should something go wrong. I cannot even begin to describe how much this revolutionizes the classic platformer gameplay, as it effectively kills the frustration of having to re-do entire game areas because you failed in a specific jump or trap or whatever, as you can cheat death by rewinding back to the point where you screwed up and try it again! Don't worry tough, as this feature is carefully managed and doesn't kill every surprise in the game as one might initially think. The level design alone makes sure the game always holds a nice surprise for you, and it's carefully designed layout makes them super-tight experiences which fail to fall to the classic pitfalls of the genre. This I believe, is thanks to the distinctive 2D logic behind them, which one can easily see whenever one activates the "landscape" view in the game which zooms the camera out to show the player the layout of the particular location he's in. This doesn't mean that the game is merely a 2D platformer done in a polygonal engine, but that the game follows the tight spacing rules and design basics that games like the original Prince of Persia pioneered, a concept more games of this ilk should keep in mind whenever they get lost in the pitfalls of their 3D gameworlds. The careful design means that even the few "puzzle-rooms" found in the game are intuitive and straight-forward, and the addition of "visions" that are just hints perfectly integrated into the context of the game help the player deal with the more challenging situations (and introduce story points every now and then).

Finally, the game is polished and pampered beyond belief thanks to Ubisoft's tremendous production values (which alone crowns them as the European equivalent of EA). The graphic design of the game is simply amazing, with a graphic engine that fully exploits the vertex and pixel shading capabilities of today's GPUs. The engine really falls under the Doom 3 category of "shading engines" which exploit lightning tricks, shading effects and assorted stuff instead of concerning itself with pushing more polygons, in fact the models in Sands of Time aren't impressive at all, but due to the impressive bloom and lighting effects you really couldn't care less about it. Noting down all the kickass effects in the game is really pointless as the game is filled with the now popular distortion effects and motion blurring, but for as good as those are one can't help but feel that it's the small details that really steal the show. Just as an example consider that the game includes caustic reflections for the water! Well, it's obviously a texturing trick as an engine that could make real-time caustics would require a SGI machine at the very least, but it's so well made you'll hardly notice it! Also, a hazy blooming effect is applied to the entire screen, giving it a dream-like soft-focus quality (think of movies like Excalibur) that not only fits the game like a glove by helping the game get that "1001 Nights" motif, but also comes in handy as an additional anti-aliaser as another reviewer mentioned. I can go on and on but you can understand the concept by just taking a look at any screenshot and seeing how this game looks like nothing else. What you can't understand by looking at a screenshot is the incredible character animation, which blends motion captured stuff with character studio-like animation to deliver amazingly lifelike animations (a must for the game really, as the original POP is so fondly remembered among other things, by it's character animation). As an animator myself, I often cringe at the animations in most videogames because they often forget about the anticipation, release and reaction that follows each movement, and which more often than not are the things that sells the idea of a credible, organic movement. This concept is not ignored in Sands of Time and the results are some of the most amazing character animations seen in recent days, and makes each of the many acrobatics and movements made in the game a true pleasure to watch. The camera work also deserves praise as one of the best ever made, not only does it find a way to always position itself in non-intrusive positions, but also goes into slow-motion and switches to "dramatic" positions with a remarkable sense of style that the competition to shame (see? This is how you do slow-mo Max Payne!).

To further complement the game, the sound department received the same care and attention than the graphics, with spot-on sfx, stellar voice acting that permeates every aspect of the game (with the Prince recounting his experiences and adding comments whenever you die, for instance, as if he was telling a tale [which is actually what he is doing] and made a mistake or lost his train of thought ["Wait... No, That's not how it happened" :D]). But most impressive of all, the game has a uniquely and extremely well-designed dynamic soundtrack that mingles Arabic and oriental orchestrations using cittaras and similar instruments with well placed guitar riffs and bass lines that move the entire soundscape from moody oriental tunes to a bitching heavy Arabian-rock mix whenever the action heats up. Oh, and lest I forget, the pre-rendered cutscenes that move the story along are simply amazing in it's quality, not to mention very entertaining, including a particular one that has to be among the most erotic cutscenes I've seen in a videogame (meaning erotic in the good sense of the word, tapping into atmosphere and seduction instead of just plain sleaze as most games [including Warrior Within] often do).

This (the cutscenes, not the eroticism!) brings me to the story of the game which is another jewel in this game's crown, telling a wonderfully entertaining story of love and adventure that not only keeps the player hooked to the end (and what an end that is!) but also charms the player with well-defined characters that follow a classic adventure story but which manage to never feel forced or fall "out of character" while they pursue their quest to undo the damage caused by the Sands of Time. And as I said, the ending alone deserves praise for being one of the most fantastic endings I've played in recent memory, a true beauty of simplicity that nonetheless is incredibly smart and charming as it lets the story and characters come full-circle, and which leaves the player with an incredible sense of gratification and delight after playing it. I can obviously see how this can seem as blind praise, as I can't really tell you why the ending is so great, but trust me, it kicks ass.

The Bad
I'm really hard pressed to find any flaws in this game, but if I had to think about it I would say that it can get pretty easy and short. Particularly easy, as fighting can be a no-brainer at times and the final showdown with the Vizier is a joke.

However there is one thing that totally sucks ass and that is that for the PC version of Sands of Time the developers ditched all the extras found in the console versions (and for those of you that don't know, those include full versions of POP1&2 as well as a reworked version of the first level of POP1 made with the Sands of Time 3D engine). This isn't the first time developers pull this kind of shit on us PC users, and quite frankly I'm getting really annoyed at this.

The Bottom Line
A fantastic game of high adventure that blends stellar and innovative gameplay, a fantastically entertaining storyline and enough production values to put most Star Wars games to shame. Prince of Persia is that rare case where the individual parts of the game are executed with incredible care and talent and the end result, thanks to stellar gaming design manages to be even better than the sum of it's parts. It's meager length and challenge can be somewhat puzzling to some players, but that only means you can play it again sooner!

Now all I need to do is find the idiot that is taking revenge on the PCs superior gaming power by cutting down on our supply of extra features when it comes to porting games.

Windows · by Zovni (10502) · 2005

[ View all 10 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
Random slowdowns... chirinea (47064) Aug 13th, 2008
Which control is best for this? chirinea (47064) Feb 23rd, 2008


1001 Video Games

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.


The Internet marketing for Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was Ubisoft's most successful campaign so far. Ad agency Digital Outlook targeted 15-24-year-old males with ads featuring characters from the game and its "acrobatic action gameplay". A DHTML overlay showing the Prince slicing through the computer screen with his sword had a click-through rate of 26.1%. A streaming video ad, showing the gameplay, had a click-through rate of 23.43%. These rates were 4x higher than the host site's average.

Armitt, Claire. Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time. (Case Study)" New Media Age. May 6, 2004 p30.


The PlayStation 2 Greatest Hits budget release of the game confusingly uses the cover art of the 2010 game Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands.


Curious about how Farah feels about the Prince? Use the free-look button to look at her during the game to see how their relationship grows.


On the opening level, just after the room in which you first see the sands of time / giant hourglass, you find a water-filled passage that has 6 murals on the walls. The contents of the murals seem to describe the legendary history of the sands of time :

1) A blue god and winged goddess cradle the earth

2) A red demon kills the blue god as he sleeps

3) The red demon stalks the earth, eating humans

4) The blue god returns from the dead and strikes down the red demon with lightning

5) The blue god collects the sand from the red demon and pours it into an hourglass

6) The blue demon grow four arms - 2 sport the hourglass - 2 carry a sword and the severed head of the red demon. Humans worship at his feet.

Hidden games

The Playstation 2 and Gamecube versions feature a hidden version of the original Prince of Persia , which once unlocked can be played at will.

The X-Box version of the game features the first Prince of Persia, but also features a hidden Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow & The Flame, which will also show up as unlocked content.

The Windows version of the game does not feature either game hidden anywhere.


Several times the main characters mention the "legendary" Rustam in comparison to what the Prince is able to do. Rustam was a Persian hero noted for his great strength. Born with prematurely gray hair, Rustam slew a rampaging white elephant with a single blow at the age of ten.

More at "Rustam." Encyclopedia Mythica. 2004. Encyclopedia Mythica Online.


  • 4Players
    • 2003 – Best Console Graphics of the Year (PlayStation 2)
  • Computer Games Magazine
    • March 2004 - #7 Game of the Year 2003
  • Computer Gaming World
    • March 2004 (Issue #236) – Action Game of the Year
    • March 2004 (Issue #236) – Weapon of the Year (for the Dagger of Time)
  • EGM
    • February 2006 - #166 out of 200 of the "Greatest Games of Their Time"
  • GameSpy
    • 2003 – #10 Game of the Year (together with SoulCalibur II)
    • 2003 – #4 Xbox Game of the Year
    • 2003 – #9 GameCube Game of the Year

Information also contributed by Big John WV, PCGamer77, Rupert Breheny, Sciere and WildKard

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by quizzley7.

PlayStation 3 added by Charly2.0. PlayStation 2 added by Corn Popper. Xbox 360, Xbox One added by Plok. Windows added by Cyberzed. Xbox added by JPaterson.

Additional contributors: MAT, Terrence Bosky, Unicorn Lynx, Apogee IV, JRK, Johnny "ThunderPeel2001" Walker, Sciere, Simone Curti, Zeppin, Eltahriel, Patrick Bregger, FatherJack, 一旁冷笑.

Game added November 30th, 2003. Last modified October 21st, 2023.