Prince of Persia: the Shadow and the Flame is out and hearkens back to simpler days. Way back in 1993, Prince of Persia 2 rope-swung into gamer hearts and minds once again. Developed by Broderbund, Prince of Persia 2 was lauded for its greatly improved graphics and realistic animations, as well as the significantly increased map size and revamped combat. Now, two decades later, Ubisoft has released an updated HD remake of the original game, for iOS and Android devices. Complete with all kinds of swipey mechanics, an entirely new engine and 3D graphics, Prince of Persia: The Shadow and the Flame is a classic side-scrolling romp through dangerous cities and deadly dungeons.Ready to swing, leap, stab, slash, roll, and climb back into the land of a thousand tales?
Prince of Persia: The Shadow and the Flame is a 2D sidescrolling, platforming beat-em-up – those fancy 3D models are permanently fixed. This game takes place entirely in the second dimension. Run right, run left, leap and stab, this entry brings the Prince back to his original roots. There are traps aplenty to keep gamers’ fingers limber. Expect lots of spiked pits, timed gates (with inconveniently placed switches), and even untrustworthy platforms that fall to pieces the moment the Prince lands on them. They just don’t make those ancient desert castles like they used to.
The controls have been completely revamped for touch screen – the left side of the screen controls movement, and as you swipe forwards and backwards the Prince moves, well, forwards and backwards. Not hard to grasp. The right side of the screen is reserved for jumping and fighting. When in “platforming mode,” an upward swipe will make the Prince jump, a downward swipe will make him roll, etc. When the Prince encounters an enemy the camera crunches down into a kind of “fight mode.” It’s not as jarring as the classic Final Fantasy fight swoosh, but there is a definite disconnect between the two gameplay styles.
Once the Prince’s sword is in hand, a simple swipe up, down, or straight ahead will perform different kind of attacks, with a straight tap to defend. The controls aren’t hard to figure out – whipping a finger around like crazy would do decent damage, at least in the beginning. As enemies get trickier, there is a definite system in place that allows more finesse, and the game rewards the player for picking up on what they’re putting down.
The jumps feel relatively responsive, and the climbing is simple enough to handle. There isn’t any “Sands of Time” style gameplay here, but for a side-scroller (and a nod to the series’ origins) it’s surprisingly fun.
Prince of Persia: The Shadow and the Flame has the same story as Prince of Persia 2. It picks up immediately after the end of the first game, and features some familiar elements. The Prince, trying to see his fair princess, is revealed as a pauper, and is chased out the city by the evil Jaffar. Deserted in a farflung place, the Prince faces hazards and death, but with the help of a magic flying carpet, he escapes!
Don’t worry – it’s not as derivative as it sounds, and definitely isn’t as plagiaristic as it sounds. Disney’s Aladdin and this game both pull from the classic “Arabian Nights” and Persian mythology in general, meaning that if they can be accused of stealing, at least it’s not from each other. The Prince’s mother gets involved, as do creepy strangers, and a mystic blue flame – it’s the standard Middle Eastern fantasy romp, and all things considered, it isn’t bad.
For a mobile game, the graphics are solid. Though the Prince can’t move in the full third-D, it doesn’t hinder the look of the game – much like the Prince of Persia’s of old, the animations are fluid, realistic, and do seem to have a sense of weight. The models are simple but detailed, the textures nothing to complain about, and the artistic style of the game is quite evocative. The semi-Aladdinish design choices do stick out, but it’s hard to avoid them when covering the exactsame time period of the exact same locale.
The graphics aren’t going to be compared to the current AAA games anytime soon, but they are well-designed and cool to look at. The lighting deserves particular mention – while it isn’t the most stunning or dynamic, daylight especially always has a particulary bright, drenching quality that evokes the scorching desert heat.
At $2.99, Prince of Persia: The Shadow and the Flame is a “must-buy” for any old school Prince of Persia fan, and a “probably-get” for any other platforming afficianado. It doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel – it is a remake, after all – but it does do its duty by the Prince of Persia legacy. Such a low price point doesn’t ask alot, and the game more than delivers the goods.
For many gamers, jumping never goes out of style, and Ubisoft’s Prince of Persia: The Shadow and the Flame provides solid controls with easy pick-up and even a little depth.