The prince has certainly kept himself busy during the seven year gap between the Sands of Time and Warrior Within. Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands on the Wii recounts the story of just one of his many crazy adventures that is different from the events that are being told in the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC version. This game is also not related to the movie that is coming out in May. We met with lead game designer Yanick Piche who walked us through several levels of The Forgotten Sands, as well as showed us some of the prince's new moves, sand powers, and the introduction of cooperative play.
Ubisoft isn't willing to reveal much about the story because the game begins by throwing you in the midst of a crumbling city, and as you progress through the areas, you'll eventually learn how the prince got there. All we know for now is that he has lost his dagger, and with that, he has lost the ability to rewind time. But the prince has stumbled across a magical artifact, which now grants him special sand powers. A genie will accompany you on your adventure, but unlike Elika who will save you from certain death, the genie hovers around you like Tinkerbell and is most useful when you have a friend playing with you. At any time, a second player can jump in to take over the role of the genie to help you find the right path or highlight important things onscreen you may have missed while performing extensive acrobatic maneuvers.
As you progress through the game, you'll learn three types of sand powers that can be used in combat and to navigate through intricate levels. Instead of looking for the right path to find your way to the next room, this version of The Forgotten Sands is about creating your own path. At first, you'll be limited in terms of what path to take as the game brings you up to speed, but as time goes on, you'll eventually have the freedom to solve the platforming puzzles however you like. The first power you'll receive is the ability to create an anchor (or a ring) that you can put on the surface of any wall to help you scale it or provides a place to latch on and just hang out. In combat, this power will freeze enemies, and you can use it to slow traps, as well as other hazardous moving obstacles. To help you get to higher ground, the second power you'll receive is the ability to form a sand pillar. When enemies run into this pillar, it functions like a trap by bursting and tossing them in the air. The final sand power allows you to create a protective sphere that can suspend you in midair. You can use this to position yourself for another jump in a new direction or save yourself from a potentially disastrous fall. If an enemy runs into you when you're in this shield, it'll freeze him or her temporarily and give you the opportunity to counterattack.
You can only use one sand power at any given time, and there's a quick recharge time in between each use. An example of how to use the powers together was demonstrated when we were faced with a large chasm that had a horizontal pole on one end, making it impossible to reach with just a wall run. We watched as the prince called forth a spiraling sand pillar, wiggled his way to the top, and then created a ring on the wall. After jumping onto the ring, he bounded away from the wall and created a sphere that allowed him to hover in midair. This allowed the prince to turn toward the pole and then pounce safely in the direction of it. Collectibles strewn across the area will give you a hint as to the most ideal way to get across, and energy orbs that fill up a three-orb meter let you restart from the last platform in case you fall; otherwise, you'll be bumped back to the last fountain save point. Because you have the freedom to create your own way, there are plenty of secret areas to find if you decide to wander off the beaten path. So, it's worth it to explore areas that would otherwise be impossible to access without your powers.
When a game is built specifically for the Wii, it generally means that motion control is involved in some form or another. This is definitely the case with The Forgotten Sands. Most of the time, you're using the remote to point and activate plates with your sand power. But in combat, swinging the remote correlates to slashing while using the nunchuk correlates to punching monsters in the face. Foes in groups of up to six will come in waves, with an enemy leader highlighted by a beam of light so that if you take him or her out first, which forces the others to flee. You gain experience as you clear enemies, so it's up to you to determine how much time you want to spend in combat. As you fill up your experience meter, you'll also gain new combat skills like an area tornado attack or a charge attack.
To make the game more accessible, a hint system is in place where you can hit up on the D pad to receive a clue as to where you need to go. When making difficult jumps, a blue line will appear at times to let you know whether that route is even possible to attempt. The developer explained that Ubisoft wanted this to be a social experience and an accessible one. You can coordinate with a friend by passing off your sand abilities to the genie while your friend then helps you freeze traps as you focus on fighting enemies or tricky platforming sections.
Similar to the other next generation Prince of Persia games coming out, this one has a distinct Sands of Time feel and look to it. You'll hear Yuri Lowenthal's familiar voice as he banters with his genie companion while you effortlessly make your way through once splendid-looking castles that are now decorated with overgrown vines or run along the decaying walls in deserted city streets. We look forward to bringing you more of the Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands as we approach its May 18 release date.