After we arrived home from our honeymoon, Catherine and I have been playing our way through Prince of Persia. It is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, one of the best games I’ve ever played in my life. Beautiful and fluid and fanciful and fun, with enough narrative woven into it that things matter, without turning into a FMV dog and pony show. The perspective character – a cocky prince with his eye on fame and fortune – is flawed but likable, a Persian Indiana Jones with l33t ninja skillz. The mechanics of the gameplay – controlling time itself as you jump and slash and leap your way through swashbuckling Arabian Nights stuff – was inspired. The idea that the entire game was a story told to a curious listener? Cherry on top.
It’s a work of art, this game. To the development team that created it, I salute you. There’s a fascinating story behind the game’s creation, tracing its way back to the old Broderbund-powered days of sidescrolling platform adventures. And there are also a number of amusing webcomics honoring the game. Sadly, the jaunty adventurer of the first game was replaced by a “darker” hero in the sequel, intended to be a “more mature” game. Sigh. Even Penny Arcade mocked the scantily-clad-time-empress goofiness of PoP2.
As I sit and reflect on the fact that I have the coolest, most awesomest wife in the world (based in small part on her ability to best numerous undead warriors in acrobatic, time-distorting combat), I hear that Prince of Persia 3 is chugging toward release. Apparently there is a lighter, happier prince – but there’s a dark prince trying to take over his body. Or something. I’ve seen the video clips, and it looks appropriately thrilling, but the pure charm of the original will be difficult to recapture. I’m hoping.