Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Run, jump, swing a big sword and travel through time...


The Lowdown

Pros: Excellent level design, creative puzzles, good use of cut scenes

Cons: Graphics suffer a lack of detail,  nothing to do after you beat the game

Purchase at Play-Asia

Prince of Persia was a classic platformer. The game featured creative level design, loads of insidious traps and lots of jumping. The game's huge amount of popularity led to countless reincarnations of the original PC game, the most recent being a cell phone version. When Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was announced the game was highly anticipated. It was rated one of the top games at E3 and now its on the store shelves. Rest assured, it lives up to all of the hype.
While the original Prince of Persia had a story, The Sands of Time has a deeper one. The main character, Shahraman who is the prince of Persia, starts the game off by telling a tale of how the sands of time were unleashed. On a journey to India the young prince acquired the dagger of time and the hourglass of time. After acquiring these items he brought them back to his kingdom, where he broke the hourglass and let the sands of time spread throughout the palace. The sands caused the people to transform and monsters to appear and since the price is the only one remaining it is his job to fix what wrong exists.

Sharaman has abilities similar to the original Prince of Persia character. He can climb, jump, run, hang from ledges and swing a sword. Some new abilities he has is rolling, reflecting fireballs with his sword and turning back time. After the introductory level you'll get the ability to turn back time. This ability is the most important ability in the game, you'll be using it to do everything from solving puzzles to beating bosses. Turning back time will allow you to avoid being hit by enemies, escape traps and repair broken bridges. However, your power to turn back time isn't unlimited. You have a sand meter that will refill by destroying enemies. Your character's abilities can be increased by finding scrolls throughout the game. For instance, early on in the game you'll discover the scroll of rolling, which allows you to roll under small areas. This ability will allow you to complete the level.

The levels are designed very cleverly for you to use what abilities you have. For instance in the second level there is a trap with a spinning blade that you can't jump over. Luckily, you just got the scroll of rolling, so you duck underneath the blade and hit the switch. A good rule of thumb is if you get a new ability you'll use it to beat the level. The use of new abilities keeps the game from being stale, which is a good thing. Most of the levels contain a lot of jumping. One qualm about the amount of jumping is that if you fall to far you lose a little bit of life. While this is realistic, sometimes you can't see far ahead enough where to land so this life penalty seems almost unfair. Most levels contain a decent amount of enemies, with simple attack patterns. To some extent they're really present to recover your sands of time since they're so easy to beat. However, the bosses can be quite challenging and require more than hacking and slashing to beat them. One really intelligent addition to the Game Boy Advance version of the game is plentiful, automatic save points. Placed all over the game are chambers that simultaneously save your game and refill your life. This is important since portable game players are always looking for a place they can save so the game can be put down.

One downside is the graphics. Yes, the backgrounds contain lots of detail. Cracks are inside walls and there are lots of extras like palm trees and statues lying around. Even the cut scenes have lots of details, you can clearly see the goatee on the young prince and the expression on his face. However, the actual sprites suffer. Maybe it was done this way due to lack of time, but the enemies look poorly drawn and so does the main character. The bats in the game look like sprites from a NES game and the main character looks the similar to the cell phone version of the game. If there is one thing that takes away from the action packed gameplay, it's this. Luckily, the music and sound effects up the presentation a notch. The music sounds like stereotypical Arabian music and the sound effects are well done. All of this enhances the setting of the game.

If you're looking for an action game for the GBA this is it. Ubi Soft has done a great job capturing the style and gameplay of the original Prince of Persia with some great additions. This game is a blast to play, until you master it since there is nothing left to do after that.

Import Friendly?

No need to import it, it's coming to the States first.

US Bound?

This game is going to be released on November 6, 2003.

Overall

If you like old school action games and have a GBA this will be a pleaser. The game has an innovative use of time travel that doesn't include a cat with a vacuum cleaner or a hard drive to enjoy.