A challenging yet charming classic that lives up to its name to this very day.
Upon learning of this, Jaffar grows angry and has the Prince thrown away into the dungeons of Jaffar's tower. Jaffar leaves the Princess two choices: marry Jaffar or die within the hour. He leaves her locked and alone in her room with an hourglass dripping away each grain of precious time.
Good: Great flowing animations * Captivating gameplay and story * Appealing graphics * Comfortable control * Unlimited lives * Fun and sometimes intense combat * Plenty of puzzles and mazes
Bad: Often punishing difficulty * An hour doesn't seem like much later on * Built-up momentum while running can lead to unwanted sliding right into deathtraps * Blocking must be timed dead-on
Graphics: Most DOS games around the time Prince of Persia was released looked pretty good, if not amazing at the time. This game is not an exception in any way: detail on almost everything has been done well, animations flow wonderfully and just right and everything else looks very nice and is fully recognizable. Visuals are one of the high points of this game.
Sound/Music: Almost all actions and environments have sounds, such as gates opening and closing, platforms and ceilings falling, spikes erecting, running, and the wonderful sound of swords clashing and hitting their targets. Nothing feels left out as far as the sounds are concerned. There isn't much music to Prince of Persia, however. Little bits of it play here and there, most notibly the title screen, which is actually a pretty good eastern-inspired tune. No bad mark for music or sounds, for the lack of music during most of the gameplay feels fitting to the environment.
Difficulty: Here's where things get a little tricky and, at times, frustrating. At the beginning of the review, I stated that there's only one hour to complete the game, so there's no time to be wasted dwaddling around twiddling your fingers and toes. Instead, use every minute, even the very first, sparingly and try not to die as much as you possibly can, as that sends you back to the beginning of the current level and the time you've used still stands. The up-side is that there are no lives, they're unlimited instead. But don't take advantage of that. As far as actual gameplay difficulty, it's easy to fall into deathtraps quite frequently. Some swordfights are also quite challenging, as the AI gets very wise later in the game and learn your patterns, so take your time but not too much.
Gameplay: Prince of Persia is a side-scrolling platformer in which the player can guide the Prince through different screens in all directions: left, right, up and down. The game starts off as soon as the Prince is thrown into the dungeon. From there, the player must help him find his way through the dungeon all the way to the top of the tower in search of his beloved within the given hour, or else the Princess will die. During this time, he must overcome deadly traps, find his way through mazes and fight off bloodthirsty minions of Jaffar. If you die, you are sent back to the beginning of the level and left with the same amount of remaining time as when you died, so there really is no break given. Prince of Persia is really a game of trial and error, you learn as you go. Running and jumping skills are to be learned and mastered over time, as well as catching the edges of platforms to save yourself from certain death, although it is easy to slip when not careful.
Control: Easy-to-learn and comfortable control scheme which only gives five main functions. The left and right arrow keys move the Prince left and right. Down crouches, up jumps. It is possible to do a small hop while crouched, all one must do is hold down and tap left or right multiple times to continue moving. Running jumps are accomplished by holding the desired direction's arrow key and then, while still holding it, pushing the up key. To execute a careful and slow walk, which will protect you from falling off edges and getting killed by spike traps that are on the same ground you're walking on, hold shift and tap the desired direction's key mutiple times. When performing a running-jump and if the gap seems too long, yet you can reach the edge of the platform in which you're trying to land, you can grab onto that platform by holding the shift key during the jump and as you hold onto the platform, then simply tap the up key to pull yourself up. If it's a drop but it's too long to simply fall, a more careful drop can be done by running to the hole and falling in, but while still close to the platform you fell from, hold shift as you fall to grip onto the platform, then letting go of shift to fall easier. Pushing the space bar will show how much time is left. It just might save your life. It takes some practice and overall learning which may take some time, but it's important to learn how to execute actions correctly and to get it right the first time.
Overall: There are many ports of this classic, which kind of sends an obvious message out: you shouldn't miss out on this (I hate using this following word but it fits) epic classic. But there's none like the original DOS version, and it can be found almost anywhere. There is a similar NES version which is just as great, but again, nothing like playing what it was originally on. Do yourself a favor and try this game out. It may seem hard and complex at first, but some quick adjustments can change that real fast and Prince of Persia can prove itself to be an experience you will never find anywhere else.