Review: Prince of Persia Classic

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Before jumping forward into Ubisoft’s “next-gen” era of Prince of Persia here in a couple weeks, now is as good a time as any to go back and see where Prince of Persia all started. First released last year on the Xbox Live Arcade, Prince of Persia Classic has now taken a leap of faith onto the PlayStation Network, giving PS3 owners a chance to experience this fine remake of the 1989 Apple II platform/adventure classic that truly redefined the genre in its time.

Like the original game from 19 years ago, PoP Classic is a 2D side-scrolling platformer putting you in the role of the Prince running, jumping, sword fighting (and dying… a lot) through 14 levels of the Sultan’s palace in order to rescue the Princess from the tyrannical Jaffar. But there’s a catch. Jaffar has set an hourglass and you have only one hour of real-time to complete all 14 stages and save the Princess.

The time limit adds an extra dimension of challenge to an already tough game. You have to have a sense of urgency to your actions while at the same time navigate the perils of the palace (spiked floors, pits, floor and ceiling blade traps, crumbling floor tiles, and so on) with a sense of patience and caution. Trial and error is a huge part of the game, so initially the time limit seems like it’s only there to infuriate you. But as you get into the groove of things and train yourself to expect dangers around every corner, you’ll realize that the game really wouldn’t have the same tension about it without the timer counting down.

Of course, for this remake Ubisoft has made the game more accessible by not forcing the time limit. In normal mode, rather than getting a game over and having to go back to the beginning of the game once the hour is up you are now able to continue on and complete the game like usual. I haven’t been able to beat the timer yet myself (an hour and five minutes is my top time so far), but from what I’ve heard the true ending isn’t revealed until you do. Mid-level checkpoints have also been added to lessen the frustrations and expand the accessibility, but don’t worry that the game has become a cakewalk. PoP Classic is a very challenging game even with some of the accessibility tweaks, and unlockable Time Trial and Survival modes are available to appease hardcore purists. Survival mode requires you to beat the game under the time limit with only one life. Now that is brutal!

Everything else about PoP Classic is what you’d expect from a standout reboot of an old classic. The revamped 3D graphics, smooth animations, and imported art style from Sands of Time are sheer elegance, and the controls – complimented by the Prince’s expanded maneuverability — are far more precise than they were back in the day. I only wish there was more meat on the game’s bones. This PS3 version lacks trophies, which is a big hit to the replay value for a game like this. I mean, why would I want to suffer through the torment of Survival mode without some type of reward? And it also would’ve been great had a direct port of the original been added as the ultimate unlockable bonus.

But frankly, those features would’ve just been the cherry on top of what is already a scrumptious sundae of 2D platforming. Whether you played the original game or not, Prince of Persia Classic is a must-have addition to your downloadable game library, be it the new PS3 version or last year’s XBLA release.

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Pros:
+ Well balanced difficulty and modes cater to players new and old
+ Classic 2D platforming with great controls, exciting sword fights and tense pacing
+ Beautifully revamped graphics and art

Cons:
– Heavy focus on trial and error
– Lack of trophy support and other bonuses limit replay value

Game Info:
Platform: PS3 via PlayStation Network (also released last year on XBLA)
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Gameloft
Release Date: 10/23/08
Genre: 2D Platform/Adventure
ESRB Rating: Teen
Players: 1

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!