Prince of Persia: The Fallen King for the Nintendo DS is Ubisoft Montreal’s miniature version of the latest console Prince of Persia titles, that just released on December second for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.
Although Prince of Persia: The Fallen King is related to the console games, it in no way is simply a different version of those games and you do not need to have played the console version to play this game. It is a wholly separate product with it’s own storyline and gameplay.
System: Nintendo DS
Also On: None
Release Date: USA December 2nd, 2008 – EUR December 5th, 2008
Genre: Side-Scrolling Action Platformer
Players: One Player
Save: 3 Save Files. The game saves automatically after each level you complete.
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Origin: Montreal, Quebec Canada
Rated: E for Everyone (contains Mild Fantasy Violence)
Like it’s console big brother, the game has to do with the Prince and fighting Corruption, a goo-like substance that is turning the world evil . . . or something like that. Here is the official story straight out of the game’s instruction manual:
Ahriman, the God of Chaos, has spread his black substance, the Corruption, everywhere. Seeking answers to defeat the darkness, the Prince of Persia travels to a reputed safe haven, only to find himself in an abandoned kingdom rife with dangerous challenges and adventures awaiting him at every turn.
And that’s all she wrote . . . literally.
The game basically has no story to speak of. All you need to know is that there is “Corruption” and the Prince is for some reason collecting jewels that allow him to fight it and/or reach a king. Honestly what little there is of a storyline has all but been forgotten even though I’ve been playing through the game.
The game basically is a platformer that is entirely stylus controlled with the action viewed on the bottom touch-screen (map’s are displayed on the top screen). You move the prince around the environments by touching the stylus to the screen in front of him and holding it there to make him move. If you touch the stylus close to the Prince he will walk slower. To make the Prince climb up something you simply tap it. So tape the top of a platform and the Prince will climb it or jump there. Using his claw, the Prince can jump onto a wall and hang there, tap him or tap above him to make him leap up a bit. If walls are parallel to each other and he’s hanging you can tap that wall to make him jump to the other side, repeat the process to hop between walls and reach the top of a platform.
I like the idea of the grab hop that lets you leap up a wall further than where you grabbed on, it allows The Prince to reach the top of two adjacent walls that are further apart, which you otherwise would not be able to do.
The best thing about the controls is that they are pretty self-explanatory and easy to figure out (touch where you want to go) the bad part is that they don’t always work that well or cause the Prince to do what you want him too. Sometimes you’ll click somewhere to make the Prince climb and he’ll simply run and jump off the edge . . . often to his death. And once he’s running there’s no stopping him. It’s this shoddiness in the touch-screen control department that probably hurts the game the most.
The platforming itself is fun. Like in the console counterparts, the prince will be jumping from wall to wall, leaping across gaps, dodging deadly saw blades, swinging on poles, climbing ropes, riding across moving platforms . . . ok that part might be knew. Since the game is a side-scrolling game you will encounter a lot of “platformy” sections that are more in line with what you’d expect from a traditional platformer than what you’d expect from a Prince of Persia title. i.e. expect lots of sections where you are standing on a moving platform waiting for another moving platform to come close enough to you so you can jump across it.
There is combat in the game as well. You will occasionally have to fight shadow monsters that will appear from portals. But the combat is as basic as it comes. Tap the enemy (once or twice) to hit him with your sword, hold the stylus on the Prince to block. And when possible, you can run the stylus through the enemy to have the Prince perform a heavy attack (that takes longer for him to do, leaving you open). But once again, you will sometimes accidentally do the heavy attack, particularly when trying to move the Prince closer to the enemy, which is annoying.
The game’s saving grace comes in the form of “Zal the Magus” who is described in the instruction manual as “a dark powerful, and mysterious character. He is partially corrupted and therefore has a mass of Corruption on the bottom half of his body”.
This character allows the Prince to do magical attacks, or rather, increases his abilities in as much as how he can explore the environments. These elements are really cool and fun to do and the game uses them in some great ways later on in the game. To activate Zal’s powers you simply press and hold any button on the DS (I found it easiest to use the shoulder buttons) you then tap the screen to perform the corresponding action. The first power you will get is the ability to shoot energy balls form Zal’s hands by simply tapping on the object. These are used mostly to push certain Corrupted spikes down into the ground by shooting them, as well as to activate crystals that you’ll often found scattered through the levels. You’ll often need to hit all four of them to open the corresponding door that leads to the end of the level.
Other powers you’ll gain include the ability to grab floating orbs, which then pulls the prince to that place (the game opens up and gets a lot more fun once you’ve gained this ability, as you’ll be zipping from orb to orb in the air, onto walls, and above spikes and later on even jumping into the air and then having to quickly tap the orb to make him zip to that point), the ability to use orbs to grab heavy stones and pull them out of your way and the ability to move certain orbs or heavy stones to break cracks blocks and activate switches.
The coolest parts in Prince of Persia are the sections which require you to simultaneously platform and use the touch-screen powers. For example, one scene has the prince sliding down a wall (which you can perform by jumping on a wall and then tapping below the Prince, or simply by waiting, he’ll start sliding after a while. This is actually one of the most annoying controls cause he often doesn’t slide when you tap) and while he is sliding you will need to hold down a button and grab an orb that’s being held by an object attached to the wall, to a few other objects that will hold it as the Prince slides. But you must be fast because the screen will automatically slow as the Prince is sliding giving you only a limited amount of time to grab the orb and move it to the holder. That’s a pretty weak example, but you can probably imagine the kinds of things that you’ll need to do.
Later on in the game that sections get more involved, and will have you moving said orbs through small crevices to activate switches and having to figure out how to move objects to a desired location while you do something above or below it.
Sadly though, the above takes a while before it picks up, and it is the only real aspect of the game that is great in any way, shape or form.
Prince of Persia: The Fallen Throne lacks voice acting (as the first trailer above cleverly misleads), so everything is told via text. This almost always come in the form of banter between the Prince and Zal that will take place before and after you start a level (the game uses a world map with orbs that represent each level) but the banter is very childish, not funny, not clever, and reminded me most of Alladddin, which is the kind of character they’ve turned Prince into in this game. But unlike in those great movies, it simply does not work here and falls flat.
The storyline is completely throwaway as well, which I was also saddened to see. Graphically, the only good thing about the game is the Prince himself . . . sadly although I like his design on the cover . . . the artwork does not translate to the actual game. The back of the box proclaims, “Explore a stunningly unique artistic rendition of ancient Persia”, a statement that I could not disagree with more. I like the art-style on the cover of the game and if they would have used that, an actual drawn or 2D art-style, I think I would’ve loved it. Instead the game uses 3D graphics that are seen from a side-scrolling perspective. But because this is the Nintendo DS, it means that the graphics are simple and undetailed and not stylish in any sense of the world. The end result is the the levels are drab, completely devoid of character, and uninspired, which can also be used to describe the game’s music, which is terrible. Enough so that I stopped using headphones after one listen.
What’s really sad and works against the game is the fact that it has Prince of Persia on the box, so you automatically are going into it with higher than usual expectations for a product, and the fact that it is so average in most regards makes it all the worse. And this is apparent from the jump, as it’s not until later that the game gets better, and so I think a lot of people will have trouble sticking with it.
One of the most disappointing aspects of the game is that the levels are entirely linear. Never once did I feel like I was “exploring”, but rather simply going from the beginning to the end of the stage. In fact the levels doesn’t even contain secrets that have to be searched for as almost all of the hidden items in a stage (treasure boxes as well as upgrades to your health and extra lives that you can pay for if you have enough coins, which you collect throughout the levels) are very easy to find. The only challenge is that some of them can’t be accessed until later when you get an additional Zal power.
Finally, there are the boss fights in the game, which are all easy and less than impressive. At least, they are easy once you figure out what you have to do . . . and you better be ready to try everything, because another one of my big problems with the game is the fact that the game gives you NO hints as to what you do to defeat the bosses. I’ll give you one hint though, be ready to hold down a button to activate Zal and rub your little heart out, that always seems to be the key with most of the bosses. But once you do figure out they’re secret they are easy to defeat.
I must admit that I got stuck in this game more than twice and had exactly no idea what to do. Not only was it infuriating, but just bad design when you are given no hints as to what to do, and I can bet that most people that play the game will get stuck at the same spots.
Overall, Prince of Persia is simply not up to the standards that one expects from the Prince of Persia name. Having said that, it is not a bad game, it is simply nothing great in any sense of the word. But if you can go into the game knowing that you are simply getting an average platformer with some cool gameplay moments (mostly involving the touch-screen) then you can certainly have fun out of the game. Again, it’s not bad, it is quite simply, “uninspired”. That IMO, is the best way to describe Prince of Persia: The Fallen King for Nintendo DS.
FUN FACTOR – 7.0
Prince of Persia for DS has some cool moments and uses the stylus well in those moments, but everything else about the game is simply uninspired and entirely unmemorable. The combat is also as simple as can be and the levels are too straightforward with no real exploration to speak of. Not worthy of the Prince of Persia name.
The graphics are the opposite of stunning as the bock of the box states, and they are anything but artistic or stylish. Instead they are bland, undetailed and plain. They should’ve stuck to entirely 2D graphics in my opinion.
Sound & Music: 5.0
Outstanding in it’s quality of averageness. There is also no voice overs to speak of, which is surprising given the series this game hails from.
The game is entirely stylus controlled and uses the stylus in some cool ways for specific sections of the levels that are fun. But by this point, it doesn’t really do anything new and the stylus controls don’t work as well as intended.
Replay Value: 6.0
The game is very linear but there are hidden chests to find on certain levels as well as additional health orbs and life-saving orbs used in boss fights that you can buy for coins collected during levels.