Saturday, April 21, 2012

[VG Corner] Retro Game of the Day - Prince of Persia

[Insert snazzy MIDI music and imaginary belly dancers]
Who could ever forget this game? A classic game that features side-scrolling that you can go and come back at the previous screen, jump over long gaps, deadly spikes, false floors, passing through gates in the nick of time and hurdling chomping metallic corridors. Yes, this. Is. Prince. of. Persia. Let's talk about this classy game after the break.

Prince of Persia came out around the early 90s (1989 to be exact), published by Broderbund. The story here is pretty simple: While the sultan is away, the evil, ambitious vizier come out to play. With his daughter. But princess doesn't want any hanky-panky with some bearded dude with a turban, so being an evil genius that he is, he locks her up in a high tower. Add insult to injury, he gives her a giant hourglass and an ultimatum: Decide within an hour whether she marries her or not. The latter decision leads to death (as always).
"Dang it took my camel out for a ride, didn't you?"

So princess-that-needs-to-be-saved has 60 minutes to decide, as well as hope that her boyfriend reaches her in time. But the vizier is a effing two-steps-ahead genius: the guy's been thrown into the dungeon. Now this nameless boy must traverse the ever-so-dangerous labyrinth of a dungeon to get to the top of the tower.

A main feature of Prince of Persia is that events happen in real-time; Sorry Jack Bauer fans, 24 wasn't the first to exploit that idea. So the game must be completed without much dilly-dallying in one area of the dungeon. So the only two ways to get a game over is either you die along the way or the 60 minutes are up. Don't worry, along the way there are some auto save areas. They're not that sadistic as you'll have to start all the way from below, y'know.

As said above, you've got gates, pits, false floors, and also dungeon guards to contend with.

"How appropriate. You fight like a cow."

Little did he know that the other ledge was recently waxed by the dungeon janitor.
Did I say there are also undead guards too? Yeah, skeleton guards.

"YOU SHALL NOT--" "Oh, for crying out~!!!"
Another unique feature of the game is that before you proceed to the next level, you come into an intermediate room full of potions with a letter on top. Above the screen there is a hint: a paragraph number, sentence number, nth letter of a certain word. Basically this is the 90s version of DRM: you can only find the answer in the game's manual. Drink the right potion (with correct letter), you open the door to the next level. Get it wrong, you lose a life point. And if you're guessing wrong, not only you die, you're save file is also stuck and can't proceed. Clever of them.

His girlfriend has weird taste in wine and spirits.
So why talk about this game? Well, for one this game has struck my fancy when me and my family were playing it in our very old pc then. Not to mention that the Prince is one of the nimblest video game character. Ever. Even Mario can't compete with that dungeon-scrolling-feat. Not to mention this game had a sequel, then a new trilogy-with-an-interquelanother Prince of Persia that was totally new, then a new port of the original series for the iOS.

Also, because the creator of the game finally found the original source code of Prince of Persia (around late March), years after he supposedly lost it. Now he's giving the code for free, to anyone who wants.

So cheers to you, Jordan Mechner, creator of the hit classic, that will always be a hit.

Additional source: [Kotaku]

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