Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones Review (PS2)

Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones on PS2 For additional context — and if you’re enthusiastic! — it’s advisable that you check out the reviews of the two previous games in the series: Sands of Time and Warrior Within. Furthermore, here a summary of the ideas and relationship between games of the Prince of Persia trilogy can be found, with more Prince of Persia series-related posts to follow.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time will be remembered for two things: its revitalization of the platforming genre (without need of the “kiddy” attire) and almost ungame-like narrative. Its sequel Warrior Within will be remembered as an abandonment of these ideals; a return to shallow video game tropes paraded about in all their triteness. The Two Thrones attempts to meet these two games in the middle; a pastiche of both flavours, borrowing graciously and carving a new identity for itself from within the hybridity.

System: PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, Microsoft Windows PC, Wii and PSP (titled Prince of Persia: Rival Swords on Wii and PSP)
Genre: Adventure, Platforming
Release date: December 1st, 2005 (April 3rd, 2007 Wii & PSP)
Players: 1
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Origin: Canada

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Link’s Crossbow Training Review (Wii)

Link's Crossbow Training with Zapper for Wii I’ve never understood why Wii pack-in titles get such a bad wrap. Link’s Crossbow Training – bundled with the light gun Wii Zapper mold — sits in this soup of peripheral pack-ins and like all of Nintendo’s other bundled titles (Wii Play, Mario Kart, Sports and Sports Resort) it achieves what it sets out to do wonderfully, and then some – offering more than it’s worth to the consumer. Still, I suppose people can’t help but complain about a good deal, at least from my point of view.

System: Wii
Genre: Arcade Shooter
Release date: November 19, 2007 (North America), December 7, 2007 (Europe)
Players: 1-2
Developer: Nintendo EAD
Publisher: Nintendo
Origin: Japan

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Prince of Persia: Warrior Within review (PS2)

Prince of Persia: Warrior Within on PS2 Having cheated his fate in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, the following seven years saw the Prince haunted by the nightmarish creature Dahaka; a guardian of the timeline, who seeks to carry out the Prince’s destiny and destroy him. Challenging his inevitable demise, the ruggered Prince sets out by ship in search of the Island of Time, to travel to the past and prevent the sands from ever being created, sealing his fate and avoiding death by the Dahaka who pursues him.

Caught in a rough storm, flaming arrows strike the hull of his ship, the Prince prompts the crew ready for battle as large hooks draw in a neighbouring ship. The opposing vessel reels in, revealing a number of savage creatures equipped with swords readied for combat. A dark haired lady, clad in the minimalist seasonal dominatrix wear, almost posing for the suggestive camera angles, enters the pack before demanding the Prince be killed. The savages cross ship on her command, hungry for blood. The Prince leaps some railings, entering the scene like a stallion and the gameplay begins. Before you can even press a button though, two enemies begin attacking at either side, no less than a second after the game opens. Button mashing is a good retaliation, supported by the aggravated growls of the Prince and the dry rebuttals of the mob as he assaults the fodder with his blade. A few bloody finishers later and another cutscene triggers, sending the Prince into the lower docks. He rises, power chords crunch in and the slaughter continues, this time he’s given a pole to spin around, slicing heads in glorious slow motion – lots of blood. Eventually he makes his way to the ship’s head, another brief cutscene triggers, the dominatrix chick steps in front of the camera fortify the foregrounded Prince with the sexual insinuation of her thighs. The Prince, now furious ascends the stairs. The two duel, another sporadic cutscene hits, this time he calls her a bitch, she bites back with some nonsense. The dominatrix lady kicks him into the water and here begins Prince of Persia: Warrior Within.

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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time review (PS2)

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time on PS2 Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a sweeping adventure of betrayal and triumph, the epic legends and deadly creatures of mythic Persia burn to life in this suspense filled tale featuring more twists and turns than the labyrinthine palace itself.”

The Prince of Persia franchise has always been significant for reasons that transcend the video game medium. The original Jordan Mechner platformer released 20 years ago marks the first time the classic Middle-Eastern theme intersected with video games to popular acclaim. Beginning as folk tales, such stories were scribed to paper and eventually translated into novels before being exported to the west. These original novels inspired other writers to utilize the culturally rich palette of themes in their own story telling. As media evolved, the elusive subject matter followed suit and found its way on cinema screens with adaptions in Arabian Nights (1942), Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1944) and The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958). The original Prince of Persia (1989), alongside Disney’s Aladdin and countless recent Hollywood adaptions represent the contemporary iterations of these classic tales which have crossed hands, eyes and ears since the 9th century.

As with the other western adaptions, Prince of Persia isn’t particularly deep, but for the most part it renders Middle-Eastern culture in a respectful light and like the other media should be noted as such. It’s not very often that western films and video games portray the Middle-East in a savoury context, if at all.

Sands of Time is arguably the franchise’s strongest embodiment of this long-running trail of folk lore. For these reasons, Sands of Time is one of the more culturally significant video games produced in recent times. With that said, let’s start this review out by talking about how the game is important within its own medium.

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Super Mario Land 2 review of the Game Boy classic

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins for Game BoySuper Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins in many ways represents the Game Boy’s increasing momentum during the early nineties, now with an established userbase at hand and solid software support.

Much in the same way that Super Mario Land felt like a portable subset of Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins borrows heavily from the previous two home console iterations; Super Mario Bros 3 and Super Mario World while adapting a style of its own.

System: Game Boy
Genre: Platformer
Released: October 21st 1992 (JPN), November 1st 1992 (USA), January 28th 1993 (EUR)
Players: One Player
Developed by: Nintendo R&D1
Published by: Nintendo
Origin: Japan
Rating: E for Everyone

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Classic NES review: Nintendo World Cup

Nintendo World Cup for NESThere’s a marvelous yet tragic observation that can be made when looking through the history of sports-based video games. When the genre was confined to a two dimensional, 8- & 16-bit playing space, sports games were often quite successful among a mass audience. Reason being, the way you played a game, like Nintendo World Cup, had nothing to do with the technicalities of that sport itself but rather an enjoyable meta game surrounding the rules of the sport.

Punch-Out, for example, has been described as Dance Dance Revolution in the guise of a boxing game, based on the grounds that when you play Punch Out you’re not really boxing. What you’re actually doing is shifting in different directions to avoid incoming blows based on a timed pattern of punches set to your opponent. Once you’ve unlocked the pattern of evasion, defeating the fighter is a cinch. Excite Bike did the same, by forcing you to balance the heat of your engine with the slow/fast moving speed of your vehicle. Sensible Soccer on the other hand is more attuned with fast paced free-style soccer than the real sport, relying on reflex over strategic play. These games stood out as some of the most influential and enjoyed games of their time simply because their gameplay avoided conflicting with the often complicated technicalities of the sport.

Nowadays, sport games are engineered to suit fans and amateur players of the respective sport, whom are familiar with teams, players and rules of the game. You often can’t play these games — at least not very well — without prior understanding of the technicalities of the sport. Realism in the means of authenticity to the sports, its players, leagues and brands has overshadowed the premise of approachable interface and what was once accessible gameplay. The market for these games undoubtedly survives and is sufficiently profitable due to the enthusiast that enjoy the sports, but the overwhelming enthusiasm that these games once garnered by all players alike has largely been lost.

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Super Mario Land review of the Game Boy classic

Super Mario Land for Game BoySuper Mario Land, alongside other early Game Boy classics, should best be remembered for its role in establishing portable gaming as an individual medium. Games such as Mario, Tetris, Donkey Kong Land and Kirby; miniaturizations of their console counterparts, proved that through the steady balance of hardware economics and portable game design, ‘gaming on the go’ was indeed a viable alternative to console playing. The synergy between these games was infectious and it was their combined effort that would create the initial demand for the Game Boy. This was the kick that portable gaming needed to launch as a platform and without it the portable gaming market would not be the success that it is today.

What these titles share is the foundation of great portable game design, what they don’t share though is perhaps why you are reading this review. Super Mario Land is a fantastic title and not only for the reasons just listed, this title managed to carve a significant niche into the lore of Mario universe.

Editors Note: Today we’d like to introduce you all to VGB’s newest review writer: Daniel Primed. No doubt after reading this retro review — and in time his future reviews — you’ll come to agree with us that he’s got the writing chops to inform you about classics such as those in the Mario/Wario Land series. Take it away Daniel! …

System: Game Boy
Genre: Platformer
Released: April 21st 1989 (JPN), August 1st 1989 (USA), September 28th 1990 (EUR)
Players: 1
Developer: Nintendo R&D1
Publisher: Nintendo
Country of Origin: Japan

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