Review: Prince of Persia: The Fallen King (Nintendo DS)


Prince of Persia: The Fallen King
Genre: Platformer
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: 12/04/08

After a few years of being out of the spotlight, the prince is back with both a home console and portable editions of Prince of Persia. There was a previous attempt at a Prince of Persia game for the Nintendo DS, however it was more of an odd turn based strategy game with cards. Since the Prince of Persia games are all about acrobatic platform gameplay, this was not the most popular of Prince of Persia titles. Thankfully this time on the DS the game revolves around platform jumping instead of real time battles.

It the portable version of Prince of Persia able to capture some of the magic of the home console title of the same name? Read on.

Prince of Persia: The Fallen King is more of a side story to the story that is told in the home console title. In The Fallen King, the Prince is tasked with trying to find a King who might be able to help him defeat the evil god Ahriman and rid the land of Corruption. The only problem is that the Corruption has already beaten the Prince to this land and has taken over most of the land. It’s up to the Prince and a magician he meets named Zal to try and beat back the Corruption and hopefully save the King, restoring Zal’s land and freeing the King from Corruption so that he can help the Prince.

While there are some pretty obvious plot twists, the story is actually fairly decently told. There are a lot of scrolls throughout the levels that will offer some additional history and the dialog between Zal and the Prince works well to set up the end of the game. Throughout the game the Prince will make a lot of sarcastic remarks and Zal works in the role of the straight man, but overall you get the strong impression that finding help is very important to the Prince, and nothing matters more to Zal than saving his land. The story is also sort of dark for the cartoonish sprites they use in the game.

Graphically the game looks pretty good on the DS. The game takes place on a 2D plane instead of a 3D one, which is a decision I’m not sure I understand given that there are 3D platform titles on the DS. Regardless the 2D setting works mainly because the animation for the Prince looks great in 2D. The Prince rolls, makes acrobatic jumps and more with simple taps to the screen. The backgrounds also look really good. Sadly while the sprite of the Prince and Zal that pop up during conversations between the two, the actual in game 3D sprites don’t look nearly as detailed. I’m not really sure why they didn’t just go for full 2D sprites since the levels are set on a 2D perspective anyways and I’m sure they could’ve created a more detailed 2D model of the Prince. Strangely for a simple portable title, Prince of Persia: The Fallen King is also perhaps one of the few DS games I’ve played that features slowdown. I’m not talking about a little bit of slowdown here and there; it’s all over the place. It isn’t game breaking, however it’s very annoying how frequent it does pop up.

On the audio side of things it’s great. All of the sound effect work well and while the audio might be repetitive it works well for the setting and doesn’t get irritating.

While all of that is good, the most important aspect of the game is how it actually plays, which leads me to some thing that I feel should really be in capital letters:

DON’T CREATE A 2D PLATFORM GAME WITH IMPRECISE CONTROLS.

Ah, that’s better.

Prince of Persia: The Fallen King relies entirely on the stylus for controlling the Prince. There are many areas where this works really well, and when the controls work it’s fantastic. Tap on a wall and the Prince will run up it, tap on the opposite wall and he will jump to that wall, and repeating that will make the Prince wall jump. Double tap in front of the Prince and he will roll. Walk the Prince to an edge and then double tap on a platform and he will jump to it. It’s very easy to understand and impressive when it does work well.

However, it’s the times when this doesn’t work well that will make you want to throw the game across the room. Sometimes you will double tap to make the Prince jump, only the game will not recognize that you double tapped and the Prince will walk right off of an edge to his death. That’s frustrating the first time, and the seventh time that happens in the same section will drive you insane, especially if this happens at the end of an otherwise difficult platform section. While there are certainly enough checkpoints and you never have to repeat whole levels, a 2-D platform with inaccurate jumping controls isn’t a good idea no matter how you spin it.

The touch screen also controls Zal’s magical abilities and combat. The magical abilities are essential for clearing most of the platform puzzles, and work very well with the touch screen. The combat system is decent, but it could’ve been removed from the game completely and I for one wouldn’t have missed it. The combat is mostly just touching the Prince to block, and then tapping the enemy to attack. You can slide over the enemy for a stronger attack, but this attack takes far too long and leaves the Prince exposed. There’s no real reason to use this attack at all outside of destroying certain boulders. Since most of the combat plays out the same, it becomes more of an annoyance than anything else when enemies show up.

Considering how heavily the magical abilities for Zal rely on the touch screen, I’m not sure if there was a better control option than what they used here. This doesn’t change the fact that it’s still extremely annoying to use the touch screen for certain parts of the game, though it explains why they decided to go in that direction.

As far as difficulty goes, Prince of Persia: The Fallen King is pretty easy. There are a lot of checkpoints in the game, and the platform puzzles are generally simple in nature. The platform levels are laid out pretty well and are interesting to play through. The boss battles aren’t difficult at all due to a design decision where during a boss battle if the Prince dies he just automatically comes to life. The main problem with both the story and balance of the game is that the game relies far too heavily on throwing switches on bridges, or collecting certain rubies to advance to later parts of a level. Was there really nothing else they could think of other than throwing a switch at the end of a level to explain why the Prince and Zal can’t continue? Also even though the Corruption is evil, Zal gain some pretty great abilities by manipulating it. The ways some of these abilities are unlocked are also uncreative, the game just sort of pops up saying “ËœOh, by the way, now you can do this’. Why can Zal suddenly do this now when he couldn’t a moment ago? It just doesn’t make sense.

Prince of Persia: The Fallen King lasts about 7 hours (which is actually about twice as long as it took me to beat Sands of Time), and other than collecting treasure chests, there’s not much of a reason to replay the game.

The Scores:
Game Modes/Story: Enjoyable
Graphics: Decent
Sound: Good
Control/Gameplay: Bad
Replayability: Below Average
Balance: Decent
Originality: Above Average
Addictiveness: Decent
Appeal: Above Average
Miscellaneous: Good
Final Score:DECENT GAME

Short Attention Span Summary
Prince of Persia: The Fallen King captures the storybook feel of the console games, and the animation reflect the acrobatic abilities of the Prince, however the unreliable touch screen controls and odd graphical slowdown keep this game from being a completely enjoyable experience. With better controls this might’ve been a very good portable attempt at Prince of Persia, but the touch screen controls are just too frustrating to recommend this title.

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