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Daily App Review: Price of Persia Classic HD (iPad)
Friday, March 16, 2012:
Daily App Review: Price of Persia Classic HD (iPad)
You can divide the world into two categories--those have played Prince of Persia and those who do not like playing videogames. And now the classic version of the game has been given a hefty makeover.
There are some games that sell millions of copies. There are some that attain vast critical acclaim. And there are some that are stuff of tech legend. Jodan Mechner's Prince of Persia is one that belongs to the third category. First released as far back as in 1989 for the Apple II, the game has since attained cult status and now has versions on just about every gaming platform, and has even inspired a film. And of course, the game itself has undergone several changes in terms of both gameplay and storyline. But for many gaming fans, the original game, with its now-pixelated 2D graphics, slightly tinny soundtrack and simple gameplay remains the "real" Prince of Persia. And it is this game that Ubisoft has decided to add a fresh coat of paint to and bring to the App Store.
For those who are new on the planet, the original Prince of Persia is a simple platformer. You are a prince who has been imprisoned in a dungeon and have to get out of there and fight your way through a palace brimming with traps and guards to save your princess who has been given exactly one hour to decide whether to die or marry Jaffar, the evil (of course) Vizier. Do NOT look for an intense, immersive storyline here--there is none. This is a simple action game--you run and jump from level to level, stepping gingerly over dodgy tiles, and avoiding traps. You will need to take on and defeat the palace guard too, who are not too eager to let you pass. There are some basic puzzles, such as tiles that you can step on to open gates. And oh yes, you need to do all this--running, fighting, jumping, et al--within an hour, else Vizier wins!
Ubisoft have resisted the impulse to tamper with most of the plot and gameplay, so those who have played the original Prince of Persia will feel right at home with its new avatar. But where the game changes is in its looks--this is no late eighties relic but one which would not look out of place with some of the newer titles on the smartphone/tablet block. Graphics are richly detailed--the Prince now looks like something out of his newer console versions (the "cover" of the title is actually the same as the "Sands of Time" edition of the game), flames from torches shimmer realistically, the swords look like weapons rather than digital toothpicks, and there are real shadows that move with the characters--and the sound is so much better. There are three gameplay modes--Normal Mode, Time Attack and Survival. In the Normal Mode, you do have to finish the game in an hour but the game won't end if the hour passes and you can play on till it finishes--you will get a different ending, though. In Time Attack, if you don't finish the game in an hour, your game ends. And in survival, you literally live only once--one death at any stage of the game and you are back to the beginning.
This does seem to be a good time to drop a hint--do NOT be put off by the one-hour limit. This is not a small game by any means. There are 14 levels to pass through and doing them all in one hour seems well-nigh impossible. It is only later when you have worked out the nuances and shortcuts in the game that you will be able to slip under the one-hour mark. But take our word for it, the game will keep you hooked for hours. There are autosave locations so you do not have to keep going back to the beginning every time the Prince pops it. Controls are simple--you have a direction pad on the lower left corner for controlling the direction you are running in and three buttons on the lower right corner--one for jumping, one for crouching and one for interacting with or picking up things (swords, healing potions, etc.). These change if you have a sword with attack, parry and sheathe weapon options coming up. You can also make the Prince do an acrobatic somersault in the air and even kick at walls.
It is not all smooth sailing, though--the sword fights are not very satisfying and seemed flukey and getting to grips with all the running and jumping using touch controls takes some getting used to. There are also a few bugs--on our iPad 2, the music would abruptly stop and then return a few minutes later at a much higher pitch. Restarting the game generally fixed matters.
So where does that leave the Prince of Persia Classic HD? In our opinion, it does add a whole new coat of varnish and sparkle to a classic title, while remaining as fun to play as ever. All of which make it a must-have for all POP fans, and even for those who have not played the original--it is akin to reading your favourite book in a spanking new edition, with new illustrations. Yes, at 169 MB, it is not the lightest download and comes with a $2.99 price tag (there is a similar iPhone version too that is available for $1.99, but we recommend playing this title on the larger iPad display). We think it is bandwidth, time and money well spent. Now, we just wish Lucas Arts would do something similar with the Monkey Island series.
Available from: iTunes App Store
Price: $ 2.99