Retro: VC Weekly #191

Welcome to VC Weekly, N-Europe's guide to the wonderful world of Nintendo's download service. Written by Sam C Gittins.

It's nice to know that the Wii VC isn't completely gone and forgotten as it has been given a new lease of life thanks to a popular game which for whatever reason sees a dual release. Anyway enough from me and on with the games!

Available for download this week we have...

  • Prince of Persia
  • Prince of Persia

Points: 800
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Masaya
Released: 1992
System: SNES

There are surely many gamers including myself who will have played Prince of Persia at some point over the years since its original release for it has appeared on a multitude of different platforms; originally created by Jordan Mechner it is something of a cult classic owing partly to the intensely realistic movements of the main character which were created by Jordan observing countless hours of video showing his brother running around which was then faithfully animated in the game with incredible accuracy. Quite simply there is no other title out there that has anything resembling the level of detail afforded by such accurate movements but this is only part of the reason why it's such a compelling experience, this is a true classic and this version is certainly the best in existence.

Assuming the role of a young street urchin who has been locked away in the palace dungeons by the evil Jaffar for befriending the Princess in order to keep you away so he can claim the throne, it is your destiny to acquire a sword, escape from the dungeons and make your way to the palace to defeat Jaffar before it's too late for you only have a limited amount of time before the Princess is killed for refusing to marry the evil man. In this version instead of giving you only a mere hour you actually have two but this is only because instead of the usual thirteen levels there is now a total of twenty across which to test your athletic ability as you avoid traps, climb ledges, jump over gaps and run across countless floor tiles some of which will trigger gates while others will collapse from underneath you often sending you falling to your death; one thing is for sure... you'd best have your wits about you.

On top of all the aforementioned elements you will have a fair few basic puzzles to solve plus a whole heap of guards to fend off in fierce sword battles which are handled rather well as you simply press 'A' to attack and 'B' to parry, of course you'll have to get it right otherwise you'll end up getting run through, thankfully most of the initial encounters are easy enough to win but just wait until you get to later levels which can require you to parry a number of times before even landing a hit plus skeleton warriors who will come back to life a short while after being beaten; also you have to be mindful of any edges or traps you might be near in combat as you can meet your end quite easily though you can also use this to your advantage as it's always satisfying to force a guard to step back into a pair of metal jaws. It can be difficult to make steady progress with all this going on, it's quite often a process of trial and error as you can quite often end up with hardly any time left very near the end, of course you can still finish but there's little point knowing you'll get the bad ending... there are thankfully a few life restoring potions scattered throughout the levels and even ones that will extend your life so there's at least always a glimmer of hope.

Visually this game has never looked better featuring some beautiful backgrounds rendered with an incredible amount of detail even all the way to the front with the foreground looking equally as good, then you have the character models which look superb in addition to animating perfectly. On top of this the audio is simply sublime featuring an excellent reworked soundtrack which is easily one of the best the game has ever featured, it's always appropriate and never seems to ever grow tiresome with the music changing every few levels; the sound effects are most satisfying too from the clang of steel to the all too familiar sound of the Prince falling to his death, it may be a little sadistic but it's all very much enjoyable.

Easily one of the best platforming games of its time Prince of Persia comes just as highly recommended now as it did back in the day, being that the SNES version is dramatically improved over the original it stands to reason that this is the game at its very best so if you've never had the pleasure of playing this yet then I'd advise you to do so. Not only does it contain almost double the amount of content than the original game but it's brilliantly produced and put together with such brilliance that makes it a joy to play from start to finish, a true classic.

Verdict : The most perfectly polished Prince of Persia port ever produced.

Price: GB �4.50, EU �5
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ed Magnin
Released: 1999
System: GameBoy Colour

There's no denying that the original Prince of Persia is well deserving of its classic status but there's also no getting away from the fact that it has also been ported across to many systems over the years including the GameBoy Colour with some rather mixed results. It's essentially still the same game with the same plot revolving around you playing a street urchin who must escape the palace dungeons and defeat Jaffar in order to save the princess but it's not executed very well at all unfortunately.

Of course the actual platforming has made the transition unscathed so you can still run, jump, climb and dodge just like in any other version albeit without quite so many frames to the original animations which were ground-breaking for their time. You have one hour to complete the game as per usual which is standard for the thirteen levels that are included, there are many spikes, pitfalls etc to contend with though a few of the more 'complex' sections have been cut back a bit to save on space.

Combat has taken a hit as it in no way compares to the SNES version which is responsive whereas here it's rather clunky requiring you to press a direction button in addition to using the block or attack buttons as pressing them alone won't do anything, this can make sword fights with guards a rather frustrating prospect to expect to get run through a good few times. Also it's somewhat annoying that all potions look visually identical meaning that you'll have to try every potion if you want to find out what it does, not so great when you consider there are ones which will take health away which isn't ideal; you may also find that due to everything being squeezed onto a small screen that the timing on traps works slightly differently which can take some adjusting to resulting in a good few failed attempts at jumping through guillotines.

Visually the game is fairly functional but there really isn't much else to say in its favour as it's obviously a huge step down from the home console versions but I suppose it is worth remembering that this is an 8-bit portable games console we're talking about so there are clear limitations. Sadly there is no music present which while it's true that there wasn't actually any in the very first version of the game when you compare the complete lack of music to the wonderfully composed audio of the SNES version it does detract a great deal from the level of immersion.

As a portable version of a classic title this isn't bad at all when judged on it's own merits and if you only own a 3DS then you could do a lot worse but if you also own a Wii then you really owe it to yourself to buy the SNES version instead because it really is a world apart from this offering which is rather poor in comparison. You should only have need to purchase this if you're either feeling nostalgic or absolutely must have this title in portable form, otherwise why would you pick the inferior port when there are better alternative versions available?

Verdict : A poor but playable portable Prince of Persia port.

That's it for another installment of VC Weekly which will return again soon. So until then, enjoy the rest of the week and Game On!

Sam Gittins
[email protected]

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