The Evolution of the Prince of Persia

We take a nostalgic look at the evolution of one of the most iconic characters in videogame history.

If there’s one videogame character who’s responsible for shaping the very nature of videogames it would have to the Prince of Persia for without the Prince I doubt we would even have a platforming genre to being with.

Born in 1989 by the hands of Jordan Mechner the Prince began his journey via a side scrolling adventure that required him to save his love from the hands of an evil Vazir while dodging a plethora of nefarious traps. The game garnered a positive response from gamers who were thrilled at the chance of living out their very own Arabian fantasy.

Nearly ten years later the series moved to the third dimension with Prince of Persia 3D, the next logical step for this series. Unfortunately the game was plagued by a bunch of issues that quickly buried the franchise under a heap of criticism. It was after this that Ubisoft picked up the right to the franchise kick starting it with a serious dose of adrenaline. Thus the Prince of Persia as you now know him was reborn.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was a genre defining game that introduced players to game mechanics we now take for granted like time manipulation, innovative puzzle solving and the most important one of them all – platforming. Thanks to his agile and acrobatic nature the Prince could traverse and explore the environment in ways you’d only seen in movies till date. Using the Sands of Time to their advantage, players could actually rewind time saving themselves from a untimely death. It was a revolutionary concept that would soon change the way we played games providing players with a failproof method of avoiding death.

The Prince himself was a very likeable character who charmed the world with his wit and boyish demeanor. However after the events of the first game, he changed for the worse and became a violent man obsessed with changing his fate. The wit and charm was replaced by arrogance and rage. His new demeanor was evident in his actions themselves as he eviscerated enemies in brutal ways, never seen before in a Prince of Persia game. The Prince’s raw anger was also reflected in the game’s visual tone that was a stark departure from the pleasant Arabian nights fantasy.
The fans cried foul. They wished their own Prince back. Ubisoft listened patiently and in 2005 they struck back with The Two Thrones, a game that re-introduced players to the beloved Prince in addition to a brooding Dark Prince. Furthermore they even implemented gameplay aspects from both SoT as well as the Warrior Within to please fans.

The world rejoiced but not for long as The Two Thrones was the final chapter in the Sands of Time series. Ubisoft soon began working on Assassin’s Creed, a game many compared spiritually to the Prince of Persia series. And to be honest there were a lot of similarities but it still couldn’t fill the void left open by the lack of a Prince of Persia game.

For a while Ubi were quiet on the whole Prince of Persia franchise but then in 2008 they announced a brand new Prince of Persia game – one that had nothing to do with the Sands of Time trilogy. In fact this new game would introduce players to a new Prince, one not born out of royalty but out of poverty and adventure who just so happened to stumble upon the adventure of a lifetime. Armed with a myriad of new acrobatic moves, a revamped combat system and a cel-shaded look, the Prince of Persia series was back with a bang. For the first time, the series actually endowed players with a sidekick called Elika who doubled up as a failproof mechanic not allowing players to die.

It is this mechanic that ended up infuriating gamers as well who felt the Prince of Persia franchise was now too simple for its own good. They even went ahead and condemned the game for its easy difficulty curve and repetitive nature. All criticism aside the game still garnered favorable feedback from critics and gamers alike.

But for some reason that didn’t cut it for Ubisoft who went ahead and decided to revisit the Sands of Time franchise with the Forgotten Sands. They’ve promised players a faithful recreation of the Sands of Time with pretty much the same setting, similar visuals, improved gameplay and voice actors. It remains to be seen if the Prince of Persia will be able to make his mark once again the way he did in 2003.

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