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MobyGames Classic: Prince of Persia

by Shack Staff, Nov 16, 2011 4:00pm PST

An argument could be made that some of our modern favorites could never have existed if not for Jordan Mechner's Apple-II classic, Prince of Persia. The latest entry in our ongoing list of classic video games, Prince of Persia offered challenge and tension for players and a substantial leap forward in video game animation. It's a series that continues to this day, and has helped inspire worlds of other adventures, making it a prime candidate for a MobyGames.com Classic.

"The Grand Vizier, Jaffar, has thrown you into a dark dungeon and plans to marry the girl of your dreams within the hour. You're not going to let that happen are you?" the MobyGames.com description of the story asks. Time was a major factor in Prince of Persia, and players are still looking for the best ways to beat the game's clock. In an industry where gamers are verbally aggressive when campaigns span eight hours or less, Prince of Persia is a rarity.

Calling the game "groundbreaking" in his MobyGames.com user review from 2005, Paolo Cumin sums the experience up nicely: "Often copied, never bettered." Prince of Persia inspired a host of games in its own time as well as games today. It's hard to believe action-adventure franchises like Uncharted and Assassin's Creed could exist without Jordan Mechner's drive to create something the industry had never seen.

"A must play," Moby user Sam Hardy wrote in 2001, citing Prince of Persia's blend of action, puzzles, and strict time limit as being hallmarks of the game.

Tell Us Your Stories! We want to hear about your experiences with the original Prince of Persia. Tell us your stories. Why did you love it? What drove you crazy? Remember it fondly with us in the comments below. We'll select some of your thoughts and memories and add it to a Weekend Update to this feature.

Prince of Persia on MobyGames.com

Prince of Persia is a 2D platformer with run and jump gameplay. Your hero must avoid deadly traps, solve some simple puzzles and engage in sword fights with the guards. The player has an infinite amount of lives, but has to restart at the beginning of a level each time he dies, and must complete the game within an hour. An especially noteworthy aspect of the game is the very fluent animation of your character.


Moby Games Classic is our chance to look back at the games that helped shape the video game industry with the help of our sister site MobyGames.com. It combines a short history lesson on the title and anecdotes from the Shacknews community.




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  • Shack Staff posted a new article, Moby Games Classic: Prince of Persia.

    MobyGames.com Classic returns with Jordan Mechner's 1989 title Prince of Persia. Could franchises like Uncharted and Assassin's Creed exist as they do today without the Apple-II classic? We doubt it.

    Thread Truncated. Click to see all 10 replies.

      • Prince of Persia marked the first instance I regretted gaming on PC instead of Mac. In fourth grade my mom remarried and moved my sister and me to a new school district. On my first day of school, I made a new friend, Jeff, who invited me over to check out games on his family's brand spankin' new Mac. We mucked about in Carmen Sandiego games, but nothing really wowed me. I wanted more entertainment than edutainment, favoring games like Wolfenstein and whatever other Apogee demo I could dig up.

        A few months down the road, his dad got tickets for a live performance of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? On a cool Saturday morning we piled into the car with his parents and made the two-hour drive to the show. It was a good time, but what Jeff and I--full-fledged computer geeks and not even out of elementary school--still remember this day was Jeff's dad swinging by CompUSA on the way home as a surprise.

        We stepped in and did nothing but gawk for a good 30 seconds. Two boys from a small town whose only computer software store was a local deal that carried maybe 10 games stood agog at aisles and aisles of games, applications, hardware, peripherals, and books. Once the shock wore off, we wandered up and down each row, pawing every box to check out graphics and system requirements.

        Then, at the end of one aisle, we noticed a particularly eye-catching game running on a Mac display. The game, running in demo mode, showed a character running as fluidly as I'd ever seen on a computer game in the early nineties--right before a guard stuck him with a sword and sent him plummeting into a pit filled with spikes that caught him with a meaty squelch.

        We gawked again, then pressed a key to return to the title screen. "Prince of Persia" faded in, trumpeting the Arabian Nights-like theme that has since been burned into my brain. We fumbled with the controls, using the number pad's arrow keys to move, learning to hold Shift to take a cautious step, and delighting in sending the prince to his death in a number of devious ways.

        We went home, talking excitedly about the game, not noticing the CompUSA bag Jeff's dad slipped to his mother as they entered the car. The next day after school, Jeff called me in a tither and told me to come over immediately: his dad had bought him Prince of Persia. We somehow made it to level 3, which features the first instance of the steel teeth that sever the prince in two with a "shunk" and a steel clang. After satisfying our masochistic urges, we turned our attention to actually trying to advance through the game: learning to not just jump, but run AND jump; feeling our way across loose tiles using careful step, mastering the intricacies of sword fighting (parry before you swing then mash the up and Shift keys for a guaranteed win every time).

        After returning home that night and wading through homework, consumed with thoughts of evil viziers, friendly mice, and silent-but-sexy damsels in distress, I received a call from my uncle in California. This guy was the cool uncle, the one who bought me computers, filled them with games, and said "Don't worry if you break it. As long as you were learning, I'll pay for repairs." He also got me started on programming--which I desired to learn in order to make my own games, of course--but that night our talk consisted of Prince of Persia. He, apparently, had played it as well and was equally enamored.

        A week later, a box from my uncle appeared on our doorstep. A note to say hello to the family, a new doll for my sister, some odds and ends for my mom and step-dad. And buried at the bottom, a copy of Prince of Persia for PC. SQUEEE! I snatched it up and installed it, which didn't take long since it came on a single 3.5-inch floppy. (Unlike PoP 2, which required four. FOUR.)

        I booted it up and enjoyed myself, but was quite disappointed in the graphics compared to the superior Mac version's: the PC prince sported white garments without any breaks to distinguish shirt from baggy pants, sandy hair, and a featureless face. On the Mac, he wore a blue turban, pointy red shoes, baggy white pants, and an open red vest. The walls, flooring, gates, torches in the Mac version were made with elaborate textures and props, especially in the gold-colored palace levels; the PC version showed every level's accouterments in 16 colors or fewer in some cases.

        Have no doubt, I was still one very happy PC gamer. The game itself ran smooth as could be, and my new Sound Blaster 16 card sang the same tune as in Jeff's graphically superior Mac version. But to this day, when the two of us engage in friendly "You play on a Mac so have fun with Solitaire" smack talk, Jeff never fails to bring up the Mac version of Prince of Persia, and I never fail to recall our surprise visit to CompUSA and the first time I played the first entry in a series that I continue to enjoy to this day. (Yep, even the so-easy-you-can't-die 2008 reboot.)