Prince of Persia logo

Publisher: Domark/Broderbund Price: £24.95

The name Jordan Mechner may not be one with which you are familiar. However, Jordan is no newcomer to the world of computer games. His first, the highly acclaimed Karateka, sold over 400,000 copies worldwide.
Prince of Persia follows the same style of gameplay as Jordan's first masterpiece and looks set to be every bit as popular.

The Sultan of Persia has decided to take a few months off while he searches for new lands to conquer. In his absence he has left the day to day running of the kingdom to his daughter, a beautiful princess.
Unbeknown to the Sultan one of his seemingly loyal subjects, the Grand Vizier Jaffer, has decided to seize power to himself.
Enticing the Princess to his tower, the Vizier delivers her an ultimatum - marry him or die. The poor girl doesn't really fancy either option, but whichever she chooses she must decide soon as Vizier Jaffer has given her only one hour to make up her mind.

Death is hardly a way out, but a sorrowful life with the Vizier isn't much better, if only her Prince Charming would bravely come to the rescue!
Unfortunately, the young lad who has confessed his undying love for the Princess has been incarcerated in the Vizier's dungeon. Stripped of all his possessions, can the youth find a sword and make his way to the top of the tower in under an hour?

The game is split in three distinct sections - the dungeons, the palace and the tower.
Starting in the depths of the dungeon you must work your way to the tower and rescue the unfortunate lass.

Having escaped from your cell the first thing you need to do is find your sabre. Once collected, you'll be able to face the evil Vizier's guards in a fight to the death. You'll also discover your route is littered with an assortment of fiendish contraptions designed to slow your progress.
Razor-sharp spikes rise from the ground to impale their next unsuspecting victim. Loose slabs crumble underfoot causing the unwary to fall to their death, and steel toothed gates open and close like a monstrous mouth.
Of course, the idea is that you avoid the traps at all costs. Contact with any of them will lose you valuable time and send you back to the start of the current level.

In addition to the traps that await you, you'll also come into contact with guards. When meeting one of these burly fellows you'll automatically draw your sabre and a fight will ensue. The henchmen found in the dungeon are relatively easy to beat.
However, as you progress to the later levels the guards become more seasoned swordsmen and worthy opponents. Only when you have defeated them all you will be able to pass.

Naturally, you are likely to receive some wounds. A life-force indicator is located at the bottom of the screen and every time an injury is received a portion of it is depleted.
By collecting various potions you can revitalise yourself, but beware there are also less than beneficial elixers to be found.
Some will indeed cure you of your wounds, and may even increase your vitality, but others will contain a life-sapping poison. Potions are often tucked away out< of sight, so only observant adventurers will find them./p>

Completing the game will take quite a time and novice players would soon lose interest if it weren't for the save game option. At any point after level two, a simple keystroke will automatically save your position to disk.
As if that isn't enough, players may also practice any of the first four levels.

The game is like a giant assault course with a few deadly traps added for good measure. Completing it will be a matter of trial and error.
All in all, Prince of Persia is a great little game that will undoubtedly attain cult status.


Prince of Persia logo

Broderbund (Domark) £24.99 * Joystick

Do you remember the Arabian Knights? The Banana Splits used to run the cartoon on Saturday morning telly. All those silk robes and glittering daggers and stuff. Then George Lucas comes along and for fifteen years the closest you get to a flying carpet is the umpteenth repeat of the Turkish Delight ad buried inside the umpteenth repeat of The Empire Strikes Back. Where is Douglas Fairbanks when you need him, eh?

Swinging sultans
Well, spookily enough, he has probably ended up in Prince of Persia, the new arcade adventure from Domark and it is seriously (seriously) funky. Here is some plot...

The Sultan has scooted off to biff up a few squabbling warriors across the border and in his absence the Grand Vizier Jaffar has swiped the throne and demanded the royal daughter's hand-in-marriage. If she does not agree within the hour she is for the chop-chop. You are her hunk and you are stuck in the dungeons. Somehow news of her predicament reaches you, so off you trot against the clock, up through the palace and into the tower, to save your babe in the bake.

The levels are platform-and-ladders based and you have got to find your way out of each one - dashing along corridors, solving puzzles, all that malarkey. Gates need to be opened by stepping on the correct floor slabs, chasms need to be jumped - for fear of having a three-foot spike rammed up your botty and ceiling tiles need to be tapped just in case they conceal some exciting secret passageways. (Actually, it is good to do this to see if any bits of the advancing floor are about to cave in under you). It is all maddeningly irritating and very, very addictive.

Slicing scimitar
In addition to the bottles that hang around the place waiting for you to drink their elixir potion and rejuvenate yourself, you are also likely to bump into a motley gang of smelly big-headed swordsmen. Their enthusiasm and skill increase the higher up in the building you get (which means your first job is to find your sword) and from time to time they are not even of mortal flesh and blood - you may well find a skeleton or two jumping up to take a swipe at you! Eek!

The sword-fighting bits are excellent, though you need a degree of skill to beat a beat-em-up, but fencing is so much more gracious, innit? When to strike, when to step forward, how to block your opponent's slice - and nearly every baddy seems slightly harder than the one before so your skills are always improving.

What the really juicy thing is about Prince of Persia is the animation - it is phenomenal. The programmer, Jordan Mechner, spent two years perfecting the movement of his sprites by studying old Hollywood movies like The Thief Of Baghdad, and it shows. The result is not your usual jerky animation (though the screens do flip instead of scroll) - this is seriously smooth, for example, if you make your character stop running, as he comes to an abrupt halt his torso will be thrown back. And when you climb onto a ledge you really push your elbows out to pull yourself up. It is as though real live-action footage has been processed into the computer and animated over (it is reminiscent of those old Persil ads that had loads of faceless figures running about in bright primary colours).

And not much more can be said than that. It is all rather amazing really. Every now and then a game bounces along and knocks us for six. By any other standard, Prince Of Persia would be addictive in the simple design of its arcade adventure gameplay, but given the additional quality of the presentation, it sets itself up as an instant classic. (Cor, eh?).


Prince of Persia logo CU Screenstar

In Prince Of Persia we have an example of the contrasting styles of British and American software. Games programmed in Britain tend to suffer from weak design, often the result of a sprint toward the profit line. Even so-called original products can be retarded, a rehash of an ancient game. American software, while not always technically astounding, is often head and shoulders above. Companies like Broderbund, Sierra, Maxis and Cinemaware have made names for themselves in Europe, America and Japan, with some titles approaching the million sales mark.

Broderbund first rose to fame on the C64 almost seven years ago with Karateka, an interactive karate movie. Since then they've produced titles such as Wings Of Fury, Typhoon Thompson and Shuffle Puck Cafe among others.

Prince Of Persia is not much more than an average looking adventure. The backgrounds are bland, the main sprite lacks detail, and at first glance it seems a visual non-starter. But it play and the game takes on a completely different light. The apparently dull main sprite comes to life with some amazing animation.
Programmer Jordan Mechner studied hours of sword fights and human movement to make the characters move as realistically as possible, the effect is incredible.

Your ultimate goal is to rescue your true love, who's been imprisoned in a high tower by her evil father. She's got one hour to decide between her love for you, or death. This gives the game a time limit and forces you to hurry up.

Apart from the guards there are plenty of other pitfalls to face. The least deadly are clumps of spikes which shoot out of the floor. These are easy to avoid. One of the more novel pitfalls occurs on level four. A mirror appears just before the end, jumping through is the only way past. As you go through one side your reflection jumps out the other, returning later on in the game to cause you untold trouble.

The control system is simplicity itself. Players unlucky enough to tall into a pit should push a button making their character reach out and try to grab any available ledges. On later levels this is essential as some jumps are too wide to negotiate in a single leap.

Prince of Persia is immensely playable. The game owes a lot to the animation and ease of control of the main character. Without this it would be nothing more than a below par platform jaunt All the elements come together extremely well to form a game which is both playable and enduring. One of the most interesting games I've seen in a long time.


GAMEPLAY As the puzzles start taking shape so does the game. The first few levels are an introduction to the mechanics of the game; the initial problems require you to learn how the control system for the character works, how the various puzzles are connected and how to battle your turban-wearing opponents. There's a useful level skip which lets you try out the first four stages, although this only leaves you with fifteen minutes on the clock.

Later levels require dexterity as well as thought. Most of the time the puzzles revolve around opening doors. Slowly an element of urgency is brought in, as doors three screens away start closing, forcing you to sprint or become trapped.

THREE SECTIONS

The whole game's set over just three sections. The first of these, the dungeons, is pitched just right for the beginner. Guards are easily defeated and the puzzles get progressively tougher as you get better.
Next is the sequence set inside the castle. The graphics change to sandstone blocks and columns, the guards toughen up and so do the puzzles. Make liberal use of the pause button before trying to work out the next move.
Finally there's the tower. At this stage there's not much time left on the clock, so all your skills are required to overcome some very tough guards and mind bending puzzles.
Throughout each level you're updated on the progress of the Princess via an attractive little graphic sequence. This adds somewhat to the scant in-game presentation.


Prince of Persia logo Zero Hero

Um... Persia, that is Iran now, isn't it? Still this new Broderbund game is set in the days of yore, when women were women, and men wore very baggy trousers. David Wilson hitches up his harem trousers and calls in on the Prince Of Persia.

Ancient Persia is in a bit of a rum to do. The good sultan is abroad fighting a foreign war, and in his absence, the evil Grand Vizier Jaffar has seized the throne and inflicted a harsh tyranny on the people. Gad! You enter into this scenario as a foreign adventurer who has only gone and won the heart of the Sultan's daughter - mind you, in a land where all the women are four feet tall, three feet wide and wear head to toe black tablecloths, she is one tasty chick. Er... the drawback of this is that Jaffar has the 'hots' on her too, and ergo has rather unpleasant plans for yours truly.

So the game opens with you in the 'clink', bereft of sword. Jaffar has also imprisoned the Sultan's daughter and given her an hour to anser his ultimatum - give him a snog or die! With three huge mazes of dungeon, palace outbuildings and towers lying between you and your 'lurve', you have got an hour to complete the game successfully. By a combination of skill and judgement and some remarkably precise timing on the old joystick front, you have to circumnavigate this three section maze (each section comprising three levels) collecting your sword and potions en route, leaping monstrously chasms (usually with enormous spikes at the bottom) and sword fencing your way past baggy trousered guards. Gulp... a task and a half I am sure you will agree.

Amiga reviewDavid: Prince Of Persia is a swash buckling romp that smacks of classic Erol Flynn movies. There is actually a good reason for this, since programmer, Jordan Mechner studied Hollywood footage to perfect the animation of the central sprite, and rather special it is too! Although small and moderately detailed the animation is something else. Prince Of Persia plays like a more arcadey Delphine game. The sprite has various beautiful routines initiated by joystick commands - turn on the edge of a ledge and pull down and the sprite realistically climbs down. Fall past a ledge and press fire and your hero grasps the ledge by his fingertips. The sprite dangles there swinging his little legs. Of course the screenshots won't live up to my praise, so you will need to see it for yourself.

Such a voluminous amount of attention has been devoted to animation detail and it has payed off - it is almost Dragon's Lair-y. Run right then quickly turn left and the sprite spins on his heel skidding and flailing his arms. Much of the first level is devoted to retrieving your sword, and once you have achieved this you are tooled up for a bit of swordplay. Take the swordfighting from Pirates and spice it up, add loads more frames of animation and put it into the context of the dungeon and you will have an idea of what we are talking here. If you take a hit, you recoil backwards. Fall off a platform and the baddie will jump down to continue the fray! Prince Of Persia gave me a real buzz - it really brought back all those brilliant Sinbad/Jason And The Argonauts movies I used to lap up as a kid.

The game is quite tricky, but since ultimately it needs to be completed within a one hour time limit, it needs to represent value for money. There is a save game option, bur rather sneakily you cannot use it till you reach level three. Actually this works in prolonging the gamelife and thus the value for money. The one area where I had some doubts was the game's longevity. Broderbund have come up trumps again. The guys who brought you Shufflepuck Café, who took the unoriginal medium of a horizontal plane shoot em up and produced the brilliant Wings Of Fury, have now brought out the best sword and sorcery dungeon maze game with animation to rival Don Bluth and buckets of gameplay to boot. Sinbad? Naff off! Stop


Prince of Persia logo

Domark, Amiga £24.99

In ancient times Iran was known as Persia, but it was never an easy place to rule. No sooner than the Sultan is off fighting for his country then the dastardly Grand Vizier proclaims himself ruler. To give some kind of legality to his reign he plans to marry the Sultan's beautiful daughter. This is bad news for you, not only because you love the princess, because also the Vizier is the sort of guy who believes all's fair in love, war and pretty much anything else he wants to win in. So you've been thrown in prison and the princess given an hour to agree to marriage...

The Princess is imprisoned in a tower and can only be reached by battling through the dungeons, main palace and the tower itself. The further you progress, the more skilful the guards are, but there's much more to the quest than that. The palace is riddled with traps - loose floorboards rattle then give way, plunging you into fatal falls onto hard stone or razor sharp swords. There's also pressure pads which open gates for a few seconds, or close them! Beds of spikes can be crossed - if you're careful - while health potions restore energy. Further cause of concern is given by rumours that the Vizier is a magician!

Prince is basically an arcade-adventure in the classic mould, complete with flickscreen scrolling, countless platforms and ladders plus plenty of swordplay. The difference is in the detail with which your character has been implemented. He can walk, run, inch forward, jump, hang from ledges, duck, pick up objects, make various sword swipes and more besides.


Robin Hogg Two 'great heads' for a game that looks decidedly mediocre? 'What's going on?' you cry. Well, cease worrying Prince is a superb mix of Dragon's Lair-style puzzles and traps with far better interaction. Almost every screen is a mini-puzzle in itself, needing to be taken carefully one at a time. Some are particularly devious - the end of level two had us dying for ages. But the marvellous way some complex moves are accessed, becoming second nature almost immediately, means you never feel too frustrated.
It's really enjoyable seeing the Prince leap about - he's animated with such skill that his zest and enthusiasm become infectious, driving you back again and again until the latest puzzle is defeated. My only real moan concerns the similarity of each level in graphic style, although the palace is a bit different - and better. Otherwise each level is nicely structured, progressively expanding the demands and puzzle complexity. Superior animation and quality-sampled effects lift it above virtually all other Amiga platform games of this ilk. Recommended!
Stuart Wynne Persia is one of those unfortunate games that doesn't look amazing in screenshots and lacks any startling new concepts. A shame because this really is a very good game. The sprites more than compensate for the unremarkable backdrops - the number of frames of animation in the prince must be incredible, it's all flawlessly smooth, even down to his stomach swelling when he swigs down a potion. Actual gameplay is surprisingly addictive, with lots of nice touches which add up to some tricky puzzles. Exploring is always worthwhile and can give the solution to rooms further on. Needless to say there's plenty of pixel-perfect leaping about, but the hero is so controllable that this is rarely too irritating. Similarly going back to the start of a level can be annoying, especially with time always ticking down, but the superb playability always pulls you back. It's amazing how such a basically simple game has been made so addictive and compulsive by programming flair and attention to detail.