Retro Game of the Week: Prince of Persia

With all the buzz this past week surrounding the release of Jordan Mechner‘s new book The Making of Prince of Persia, we thought it would only be fitting that Prince of Persia would be our Retro Game of the Week. We are of course, talking about the original 1989 release of Prince of Persia that mesmerized so many people and spawned an entire franchise from LEGO toys to a the 2010 blockbuster The Sands of Time.

I initially played Prince of Persia on a 386 PC clone running MS-DOS and with young me having very little expectations for game quality at the time, Prince of Persia suddenly appeared, coming out of the gate extremely strong in both look, feel and playability. Within the first 2 seconds of playing you were immediately struck by the main character’s movement…which was just…so impossibly…fluid!  There was something very enjoyable about controlling this character that was simultaneously cartoonish and lifelike, whether he was running, standing, jumping, fighting, or (my personal favorite) hoisting himself up from a platform’s precipice.

Prince of Persia was more than just a platform game. Combined with the rotoscoped character movements and a view that employed more of a “perspective” approach than the standard platformer profile view, this was a game that went on to be recognized as the first Cinematic Platformer. This was just you as the character, finding and fighting your way through a series of dungeons on your way to save the princess. Indeed, the story is a familiar one, but it’s the execution in a video game that we hadn’t quite seen before: from the realistic movements to the cold, damp look and feel of the stones (I always loved the rattle of the loose tiles), to the fact there’s no scoreboard. Just you, the game and a singular mission to survive and save the princess.

You can find Jordan Mechner‘s book The Making of Prince of Persia: Journals 1985-1993 on his website, available through Amazon.

Watch someone playthrough Prince of Persia:

Year: 1989
Developer: Brøderbund
Designer: Jordan Mechner
Genre: Cinematic Platformer

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