Prince of Persia

aka: Jordan Mechner's Prince of Persia, Pers Prensi, PoP, Prince de Perse, Prince of Persia Retro
Moby ID: 196

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Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 81% (based on 82 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 523 ratings with 13 reviews)

An entirely different kind of cider - and yet not!

The Good
After digging out the old DOS version of the game and coming straight here to write about it, I looked through the screenshots of other ports and noticed that the SNES graphics were considerably 'beefier' than the original. I found the cart on eBay and started to play - initially thinking that this was a straightforward port of the game that had been tarted up visually - however I soon found out I was wrong when the first level that I knew so well, suddenly and unexpectedly changed - the layout was different - now a sub-dungeon network of caves held the key to finding the sword - complete with skeletons in wrags hanging from chains and even an underground river. Likewise, throughout the game there is a massive feeling of familiarity - the animations are almost identical for example - but the slight difference in puzzles makes the game seem fresh again...

The Bad
...although - this is also a point where I kind of felt cheated. I knew - or at least I thought I knew what I was letting myself in for. Another hour of playing an old favourite, (albeit in different clothes). Now I couldn't wizz through the levels - I had to actually figure it all out from scratch!

The Bottom Line
Frustrating though it was to start from scratch with something that was oh so familiar, (like re-writing a document after deleting it by accident!), it was still an enjoyable experience and the game certainly looks good, (taken in context with other SNES games it looks pretty stunning - a style that reminds me of the Batman conversion on the NES platform ... all dark and brooding!). Overall - worth the time, money and effort to experience this anew ... sort of!

SNES · by Adam Jennings (47) · 2007

Over a decade later I still find myself jesting with the butter knife when alone.

The Good
Just about everything in this game is worth a big clap.

Graphics Firstly the animations, I had never seen anything so real in my life. When I lernt that the animations were copied from actual clips of some guy doing the movies I went "Woah!" The graphics still look smooth and fluid and very good for the age that it came from. The enviroments chagned as you traversed the levels, from the blue dark dungeons to the shining and pretty higher levels of the palace to the mysterious upper towers of Jaffa's chambers it all worked well.

Gameplay The sword fighting was very easy yet very hard. You had to hit the up key at the right time to block then hit him in the side. Also when you blocked you went back a step so losing ground was a problem in some cases. Traps were good if limited. Floor spikes, chompers (Blades that sliced you in half) loose floors and guards made the game more challenging. The guards were good too, they got harder each level and every now and then a extra hard one was placed for fun. Also who could not forget the shadow, the fat guy, being saved by a mouse and the hidden path.

Sound A little limited. But the realistic foot steps from the shuffle to the run was all in. The sword fights were done with clings and clanges and the prince went "oomph" when he ran into a wall.

The Bad
A few things, the save games were annoying, you could only save when at the start of a level or at a certian point. The gameplay was a bit too much of key mashing at some points and some levels had too much back tracking,

The Bottom Line
A must play, It's blend of action, tiny bit of puzzle solving and a time limit (1 hour) makes this a game to keep safe.

DOS · by Sam Hardy (80) · 2001

WOW!

The Good
Having only just found the original disk and manual whilst clearing out the attic, all work had to stop for an hour whilst I was whisked back a few years to when I first played this game. Back then it was on an old IBM PC the size of a house with a rather dull CGA, (remember them - only four colours on screen at once - mostly pink, blue and white?), monitor. Most games that I'd seen reviewed in glorious VGA, (even EGA didn't seem quite as bad), none of them really lived up to their promise in CGA; but Prince Of Persia was even glorious in only four colours. The animation was amazing - like nothing we'd ever seen - and the atmosphere was still there ... albeit pink!

Now, playing it on a machine that not only beats the chunky old IBM, but positively smacks it into the ground, sets it on fire and pees on its ashes; the game is still a marvel - and in full colour! The gameplay is still all there, hunting through endless corridors just doesn't get boring as this are so well thought out that you can forgive the game its' repetitive imagery. Even the password protection is imaginative, asking you to drink a potion matching a certain letter from the printed manual - what other game of the time employed such innovative thinking and technical wizardry?

The Bad
Looking back now I realise the limitations of the game - but is that because we've been 'spoilt' by the developments in gaming since then or is it because my tastes in games have changed? Given that I've just spent an hour jumping over falling stone slabs, jabbing wildly at fat guards and plunging to spiky deaths and then felt compelled to come and write this review; I can't really complain that it's the game. So, really this title should be looked back at, remembered in time and taken in context of gaming development. Also, I couldn't get the digitised sound to work on this new machine - really wish I had that back instead of indistinguishable blips from the PC speaker, (I didn't think they were still in PCs these days as I hadn't heard one for so long!).

The Bottom Line
I'd recommend that anyone wanting to get involved with game development take a look at this game - first play it, get the feel of the game, soak up the addictive gameplay. Forgive it it's dated approach and limited graphical outlook and just immerse yourself in the experience. Then go back and look at it form the point of view of a level designer - see how crafty it is, how it pulls you in to the atmosphere of the locations - how it coaxes you to make those jumps that just look way too big. Finally, follow the path of games since then - see the titles that really worked and were an improvement and don't forget to play the titles that didn't work; we can learn much more from our mistakes than we can from our successes.

DOS · by Adam Jennings (47) · 2007

The Omega Port of the 16-bit lot

The Good
When you start up the game you’ll be amazed by the rich colours, especially if you grew up with earlier ports. Intensive care has been put into the new graphics with textured backgrounds, foregrounds, props and animated objects in both the dungeon and palace levels. This game doesn’t just add a splash of colour, but adds to presentation. The NTSC version has text telling the story, but the PAL version has numerous dark cutscenes. The game over screen is pretty chilling. Pity that the boxart doesn’t resemble what you see in-game, but it looks okay. Finally the level music tracks blend well with the deadly atmosphere and are faithful to Francis Mechner‘s composition, though they are only in the PAL version.

Gameplay for the most part is faithful to the DOS port, apart from the sword fighting. In this PAL version, you get four extra challenging levels. If you’re used to puzzles in Prince of Persia 2, then these levels will be a real treat for you. Of course if you’re not up to the challenges you can enter a password to skip levels. Other extras include new exclusive types of potions with incredible effects.

The Bad
You might be awestruck by the brilliantly coloured and painted makeover, but careful attention to detail wasn't really applied everywhere. The guards are all the same colour, just like the Atari ST and Amstrad CPC versions. And for the Prince's shadow, the artists lazily did a recoloured palette of the prince and nothing that even resembles a shadow. The potions are coloured in such a way that you can’t tell exactly what they do, so you might accidentally poison the prince, though you can memorise the good and bad potions since they stay the same every new game.

The way that the controls work are partly broken for a couple of reasons. One of them is the slow, clunky movement, which feels almost a second late to pressing the D-pad. As a result you can't really mimic the glitchy tricks and moves that you could in the DOS version. At least you can jump past guards if you time your jumps correctly. Running through spikes only works if you're in the middle of the spikes and not running from the edge of them. The other major problem is the combat system. You don't parry using the up direction, but with the jump button, and it's completely useless, because when your parrying is hit, you sail back a bit so you don't get within a striking distance. Instead you have to carefully time your sword blows so that you accurately hit your opponent and hope that you don't get stabbed first. Finally the crouch ability is useless, as it doesn't let you crawl anywhere, you just squat down idly on the ground. What a waste of controls that only do half the functions!

The Bottom Line
The Megadrive version certainly took many steps up from its US Genesis counterpart with impressive added visuals and extra levels. But extravagant graphical makeovers alone are not enough to make a perfectly playable game. While there is added challenge for the hardcore platformer players, it's not going to work in their favour. If the problems with the controls could be fixed and the graphics tweaked a little bit more here and there, I would give this one high praise next to the SNES version. I'm not disappointed, but I'm not content. This title is deserving of being tried and played through, but it will take more time than the limited time before you can get used to the way it works. Similarly to Data East’s SMS port of Captain Silver the European release gets more features and longer gameplay than the US release. Go for PAL if you want to enjoy the full experience of the game. Shame we don’t get to see the Genesis/Megadrive features in POP mods.

Genesis · by Kayburt (29381) · 2022

A gaming experience you can never forget

The Good
Prince of Persia had much more than everything you wanted from a platform game, so much that it became a whole different genre. In many ways, this game was way ahead of its time and presented gamers an amazing experience they would never forget.

Atmosphere:

What strikes you first is the graphics of the game. It is very detailed and colorful. The middle-eastern theme is an exotic theme with lots of possibilities, which makes it a great choice. Unfortunately it is very rare, especially compared to medieval and even far-eastern themes. This theme is very well applied, with so many ornamental designs, pillows and pillars which makes you feel like you are in a One Thousand and One Nights story. The sense of duality in the game, which is first implied by the dungeon levels versus the palace levels is also a good idea to make things more interesting. Also, the semi-isometric view of the levels also make the environment seem much more realistic than that of any other game. Combined with an unforgettable soundtrack which sounds great even with the PC Speaker, the atmosphere, overall, is perfect.

Then you've got the animations. Starting from the very beginning, when you see the prologue, where Jaffar enters and has a conversation with the princess. The detailed animations of her hair, the Vizier's cape, make you feel you're watching a movie.

The realistic animations, aren't just animations. They are also a key element in the realistic gameplay. Most platform games back then had protagonists that barely moved their legs while running, or even jumping. The movement usually didn't even seem to be associated with the running animation. They also jumped in an inhuman manner, many times higher than their heights, and again, barely moving their legs. This was not the case with the Prince. The Prince runs really using his legs, with obvious steps, and jumps like normal people. And the fact the you can know how far he can go with any number of steps or how far you can jump in different situations is a key element in the gameplay. Some distances you can take jumping from where you are and some by making a running jump only.

Which brings us to Gameplay:

Controlling the Prince is really simple: You have four movement keys (the arrow keys) and one action button (shift). That's all it takes to make moves that other platform games of the time didn't even have. Using these keys you can run, make a vertical jump, crouch, move one step, take a leap, make a running jump (which took you further than a leap), make a long running jump (which took you a little further, using the action button), climb up or down a ledge, hold on to a ledge, open and close doors (these are done simply by stepping on certain pressure-plates), and drink potions...

The game also has a fighting system, another feature that makes the game way better than other platform games, which usually had a button to shoot a projectile weapon of some kind--even the ones featuring swords as a weapon operated in a similar manner, it just wasn't projectile and instead affected enemies at close range. The Prince of Persia featured a much more realistic sword-fighting, which made the fighting more complicated, but still simple to control. The Prince basically enters "fighting mode" when he encounters an enemy, by drawing his sword. The player has four options: move (forward or backward), attack, parry or sheathe sword (which makes him vulnerable but mobile, until he chooses to draw his sword again).

Again, as opposed to other platform games of the time (and even of today), the Prince cannot jump higher than a real life person can and cannot fall a long way down; he gets injured for a medium fall, and dies for a long one.

Speaking of, the health system in Prince of Persia is also more realistic than its counterparts. It features a number of "lives", initially 3, which basically represent the number of blows the Prince can take before dying. The Prince is injured (loses one life) when he gets hit by the sword, falls a medium fall (two floors), a brick falls on him, or drinks a blue potion. If he gets hit by the sword on his back, falls a long way down (three floors or more), or is caught by a trap, he instantly dies--regardless of how many lives he has.

The Experience:

Prince of Persia has a lot of elements throughout the game that make it more than a platform game, and evolve into an action/adventure.

First and foremost: You have 60 minutes to save the princess, and the game is in real time, which means you have 60 minutes to complete the game. This is of course, impossible if you are playing the game for the first time. But although criticized for being an insanely difficult mission, I'm glad that this is the case, because it means that the game CAN be completed in 60 minutes, but if you do that the first time you play the game, then that's a damn short playing time you've got. Today we actually value games with the average time of gameplay, and want at least 20 hours or so to complete a game. Why should Prince of Persia be just a 1-hour game? Fortunately, it isn't, and it is very difficult so you'll have to restart the game at least a couple of times. This might not sound good now, but back then, Prince of Persia was already the best game you could play, so I think it didn't really matter if you could complete the game or not, you were going to play it again anyway...

Let's go back to the game. The levels in general, although linear in principle (there is usually one way to complete a level), have a non-linear layout where you can usually go left, right, up or down. You have to find your way through the levels. For example, at the very first level, you start as a prisoner in the dungeon without your weapon. So you must find a sword first, and then go further. The levels sometimes also have alternate paths to complete the level or secret areas where you can get healing or extra life potions. This encourages exploration despite the time limit.

Throughout the levels, there are pressure plates to open and close doors, doors slowly closing down when opened (giving you a time limit to make it), traps, unstable bricks (which fall a little after you step on them or hit them from below), and enemies that get tougher each time, some even having their own fighting styles (parry a lot and counter-hit, or always wait for you to make the first attack, etc). Combined with the great level design, these features make every level a puzzle on its own.

But there's more. You also have surprising unique puzzles such as the undead, the mirror, the green potion(s), and much more that I do not want to ruin for those who might still want to play this game and haven't yet...

The Bad
The only thing about the game that can be disliked is the high difficulty. A game which requires action and fighting skills and solving puzzles with a 60 minute overall time limit is practically impossible for a first timer. But as I said, if you could complete this great game within the first 60 minutes you played it, wouldn't that be very disappointing?

The Bottom Line
Prince of Persia is a ground-breaking game that defined a new genre and was followed by great games like Another World (a.k.a. Out of This World), Flashback and BlackThorne, featuring similar adventure elements and puzzles, detailed graphics and animations, and realistic controls.

If you haven't played it, you've missed a lot.

DOS · by erseN akçay (23) · 2007

Worthy on every system

The Good
Thankfully, Jordan Mechner game graphics rely on fluid animation over color depth, so even on the 4 colors of the venerable Game Boy, Prince of Persia is a treat for the eyes. With spare backgrounds and music only to serve as theatrical highlights, the game environment is desolate, unforgiving, and engrossing. It's a shining example of "less is more."

The Bad
The main annoying thing about this game is not localized to Game Boy, it's the "skin of your teeth" deaths where you think you're about to make a tricky jump or pass through a timed gate, but you're instantly killed. As for the GB version, some controls and animations are a bit sluggish, especially the stationary vertical jump, which is slow and frustrating.

The Bottom Line
It's a timed puzzler, but not necessarily a puzzle game. Mastering Prince of Persia means knowing where and when to step, run and jump in order to gain access to new areas of the game.

Game Boy · by Tim Conneally (4) · 2008

This game blew me away.

The Good
I love the graphics in Prince of Persia. In a time when good VGA/MCGA graphics were hard to come by, this game just blew me away. The rotoscoping was something I'd never seen before and the details were more than what you would expect. The level design was also quite strong with lots of variations and challenges. The gameplay also worked quite nicely with smooth transitions between the different moves. Everything felt quite fluid and flowed nicely. And of course the action and puzzle solving had almost perfect balance. There was enough action so keep you on your toes, but not so much that it distracted from the ultimate goal.

The Bad
The sound effects were quite weak and the music was non existent. However, I always felt that early PC games with music never quite worked right. The music was always an afterthought and not something that was part of the game. So, in a sense I'm glad they didn't do anything there.

The Bottom Line
You have to rescue the princess from the evil Jaffar. You've been thrown into the dungeons and have 60 minutes to escape and save the princess from being forced to marry Jaffar or face death. On your way, you will have to battle numerous enemies and solve countless puzzles. Time is your constant enemy. You can't go too fast and make a fatal mistake but at the same time you mustn't loiter around. A must for all gamers.

DOS · by Brian Hirt (10410) · 1999

A great game, with one exception

The Good
The animation of the player character is great. The graphics for the levels themselves are rather plain, but I really didn't mind as they're clear and easy to navigate. I loved the feeling of exploring and finding my way to the exit. The few puzzles that are included are decent and not that difficult to figure out, but there should have been more of them.

The Bad
The one thing I didn't like was the time limit. Personally, I've never liked games where you can do everything right, but you get penalized for not doing it quickly enough. It's a lame attempt by the designer to generate a sense of urgency and it almost always ends up just being frustrating rather than adding anything to the game. Since I could never finish the game within the time limit, I used the cheat to give myself more time, so that I could explore at my leisure.

It also should have had a few more puzzles, since many of the levels are very repetitive.

The Bottom Line
Prince of Persia is a great dungeon exploration game interrupted by the occasional sword fight or puzzle and it still holds up well today. I first played this on the Amiga, but the DOS version is pretty much the same.

DOS · by Rekrul (49) · 2005

The longest and most thrilling two hours of your life!! Prince Megahit!!!

The Good
Not a game, an institution! Prince of Persia is THE action/adventure classic, soaring high above everything that had been done previously (even it's predecessor, karateka) Prince delivered a sheer amount of fun and entertainment unheard of at it's time. I vividly remember jumping and running through those maddening Persian dungeon as if in a trance, trying to save that hottie from the evil Jaffar.

The graphics were incredibly detailed for it's time, but the real eye candy were the animations. I remember watching in awe as I performed my first running jumps or drew my sword and observed the silky smooth sprites animate as only a dream would! And the music? I can still hear in the back of my head Prince's amazing theme (and no, I'm not talking about the one from Purple Rain! ;D)

The story might have been an aftertought, but the gameplay was king in this game, you deftly avoided traps, ran and jumped like an olympic athlete (wonder what REALLY was on those suspicious bottles that were laying around ;)) and swashbuckled as an arabic Zorro with top-notch controls and through great level layouts that combined every feature you could think of from 2d platformers..... to think that at that time console gamers were collecting mushrooms and coins as Mario and called that exciting! Ha!!! :)))

The Bad
It was hard man.... REAL hard, some of the levels were just cruel, and I never could defeat Jaffar, not to mention that you had to do this on TWO frigging hours!!! . Has anyone actually finished this without cheating? They really should have added a difficulty setting for this one. Other than that this is one for the record books.

The Bottom Line
The one and only king of gameplay. I cannot even begin to describe the hours of enjoyment and great memories this game brought to me. No doubt about it, most action games owe their lives and souls either to Doom or Prince. Get down on your knees and praise your lord heathens!!!!

What's that? Don't have any idea what this game is about and think your shinny new Pentium 7 can't be bothered to check something like this? HeHeHe....Give it a try pal..... And get ready for the longest two hours of your life!

DOS · by Zovni (10503) · 2006

The ground breaking platform game, often copied, never bettered

The Good
Slick motion capture and tight controls gave this action game a unique feel. The graphics, although not great overall, felt appropriate, the animations were simply terrific for the time and made it a cult classic.

The Bad
Repetitive and uninspired backdrops and enemies along with almost non existent music (save for a few jingles and sound effects) gave the game a washed-out look. Some gameplay snags and a difficulty rating a tad too high were the major issues.

The Bottom Line
A ground-breaking action game and a must-have Amiga game!

Amiga · by Paolo Cumin (11) · 2005

An interesting, different platform game.

The Good
Well, the creator spent a pretty time animating the characters and it shows.. the animation is incredibly fluid and good-looking.. modern people would probably not believe that it has been drawn instead of 3d-rendering.. Also, the motif has been captured well.

The Bad
Well, the dungeons all look the same and one or two of the puzzles can cause you to scratch your head for some time..

The Bottom Line
An interesting platform game that has next to nothing to do with 'regular' platform games like Sonic and Mario.

DOS · by RmM (68) · 1999

Jordan Mechner. What else is there to say?

The Good
Well, this is one of those rare games which you could look at and say: now that's amazing.

The game is a straightforward breakthrough in animation and digital motion capture. The graphics are well-made - nothing spectacular but robust none-the-less. The controls are very good and the game is very challenging.

The Bad
The music wasn't "all that", and the combat begins to annoy you after a while.

The Bottom Line
Well worth playing.

DOS · by Tomer Gabel (4539) · 1999

There must be a rule about Grand Viziers being evil and called Jaffar.

The Good
The theme. I thought it was great how the evil guy was the Grand Vizier Jaffar. How ironic ;)



The Bad
This game was rather hard. It got really hard really quick too! I was stuck by the third level and had to resort to.. dum dum duuuumm.. The cheats. I couldnt help myself. Once I found out the cheat codes, I couldn't stop cheating.

This game required a lot of skill.. and in some games, skill I just dont have.

Time limits!! The game was hard enough as it was, without a dang 1hr time limit or he's going to kill my girlfriend.

The Bottom Line
Have a play, because overall its still a good game. If you're any good at platform games you shouldn't have any worries. If you're useless at jumping and sword fighting I'd suggest playing something else ;)

DOS · by Michelle (176) · 2002

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Kayburt, Bozzly, S Olafsson, Tim Janssen, Alsy, RetroArchives.fr, Ritchardo, lights out party, Hello X), Stelios Kanitsakis, Kohler 86, SlyDante, Tomas Pettersson, Alaka, Jo ST, Riemann80, RhYnoECfnW, Игги Друге, Havoc Crow, Sun King, Mr Almond, Scaryfun, jaXen, Patrick Bregger, Martin Smith, vedder, yenruoj_tsegnol_eht (!!ihsoy), Kerrazzy, Big John WV, Terok Nor, chirinea, Omnosto, Thomas Helsing, firefang9212, Alex Fest, A H, WONDERなパン.