>by Aron Deppert
Prince of Persia was originally released in 1989 for the Apple II, and then ported to most consoles and PCs in 1992. Its creator, Jordan Mechner, set a standard in video games of fluidly moving characters, even on low-powered systems like the NES.
I should have known this game would be hard when the timer at the bottom of the screen informed me I have 60 minutes remaining. Part of me wanted to turn and run away from this relic of a platformer, but I was intrigued, and my love of the PoP: Sands of Time game gave me hope. It was only approximately 35 seconds before I was impaled on a bed of spikes for the first time.
This game is deceptively difficult. When you enter the first level, it is hard not to scoff at the simplicity of it. This is before all of the trap doors, breakaway floor tiles, hidden spikes, and rabid swordsmen are discovered. There are plenty of clues to these perils, but if you are not keen and observe the subtleties of the Prince’s environment then you will be crush, stabbed, and impaled time after time. Aside from the environmental obstacles you must overcome, there is the sheer perplexing nature of the world. There were so many diversions and branches from the route to the end that I deeply longed for a map.
This is how I spent most of my time playing Prince of Persia for NES.
If it wasn’t for the slick animation, Prince of Persia would be a visual joke. It uses roughly 5 colors, most of which are from a CMYK palate. Playing it brought to mind memories of playing Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego on one of my childhood friend’s computers. It is worth noting that a remake of this title was released on Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. They both featured heavy color palate and texture enhancements, and the Super Nintendo version boasted 20 levels compared to the original 13.
Too bad this shot is from the demo play…I REALLY could’ve used a sword!
Even after my short time playing Prince of Persia, it was clear to me that this game was an innovation at the time. When you consider cakewalk games like the Super Mario Bros. series, Mechner and his team reinvented the wheel with this one, in terms of both technical and creative improvements. Despite its ugliness, Prince of Persia offers an infuriating puzzle-platform-action experience that is sure to keep most players occupied for hours, or if they’re like me, a few minutes.
Image Credit: Screenshots