Prince of Persia is a platformer developed and published by Brøderbund in 1990. It is one of the first PC games I got to play and as such it was the game to teach me how to use the keyboard to control the prince, survive and eventually, many hours later, save the princess for the first time.
Most platformers I played around the time were rather action related. You were running around avoiding weapon projectiles, shooting enemies while trying to get from point A to point B often jumping across gaps, traps and moving platforms. When playing game like that you had first discover what is possible and what is not in terms of jumping, falling, avoiding or shooting. There was nothing that would hint that. It was up to you to figure that out by trial and error. I was pretty bad at this and I knew that spending money on these arcade games was a recipe for disaster.
Prince of Persia is a different kind of platformer. The game looks realistic compared to other games of the time, that is primarily because it is realistically animated. The intro shows Jaffar and a princess. The interaction between the two characters shows movement that made me see these characters as living people. I also enjoyed the colorful graphics and the rather unusual point of view in 2d platformer games. When the game begins we see prince being thrown into a dungeon. When he landed on the ground I realized that this character would walk, run, jump and fight like a human being - not a floating 2d sprite that hardly had any legs. I was right about it. The prince's moves were all animated. The animation felt real even though one would question the efficacy of the movements.
Starting in the depths of a dungeon, you need to find a sword first to defeat your first enemy and then go up to the highest level and save the princess. You have 60 minutes to beat the game. You'll be running around the level trying to find a way to another door leading up to another level. There will be gaps you'll need to jump across, blades you need to avoid, environmental puzzles to solve (usually just involving different platforms to step on or avoid), enemies to kill or avoid etc. The prince moves in a way human person would, meaning he can't just unrealistically far or high. He can make a step, walk, run, crouch, climb up or down, jump (over something), do a running jump. All these follow the same rules so knowing them you will need to figure out how to clear a level. The prince has 3 lives at the beginning of the game and there are potions that can be drank to either get additional life (hidden at places that won't take you closer to next level), cure a life or lose life (these are blue). The prince loses life when hit by a sword, or when he falls two floors down, or when a platform falls on his head. The prince will die when he falls lower than two floors, is stabbed in the back or gets caught in a deadly trap be it blades or something else. After dying the level restarts with the exception (level 3 where there is a checkpoint).
As for combat, the fighting is also more realistic than other arcade platformers. When prince gets near an enemy he draws his sword. The player can either attack, black or sheath the sword. Parrying is not necessary to use against most enemies but two Jaffar himself and one of his best guards. The enemies are harder and harder to beat and even have their own fighting style.
The game doesn't feature in-game music, just intro and outro music which I enjoyed. The sound effects are ok. At that time though, how many of us had sound cards that could actually produce good sound?
This game is a must play for any gamer. Prince of Persia is a game that started a new genre of games and set the bar quite high. The game has very good graphics and atmosphere. It has great animations that breathed life into the game. The gameplay is good, it requires some skill in controlling the prince but it is something anyone can learn to do. The level design is great and it forces you to explore while being wary of the remaining time since there is 60 minutes to complete the game.
For those that would find the game too difficult for some reason, you can type 'prince megahit' to run the game which will unlock cheats. Pressing + will give you more time, K will kill any enemies on screen, R will resurrect the prince etc.Thanks for reading
Ren (stsungjp on Twitter)