Prince of Persia
Prince of Persia is a fantasy platform game, originally developed by Jordan Mechner and released in 1989 for the Apple II, that represented a great leap forward in the quality of animation seen in video games. After the original release on the Apple II, Prince of Persia was ported to a wide range of platforms. The game managed to surprise and captivate the player despite being at first glance, repetitive. This was achieved by interspersing intelligent puzzles and deadly traps all along the path the player-controlled Prince had to take to complete the game—all this packaged in fluid, lifelike motion. Prince of Persia influenced a sub-genre known as the cinematic platformer, which imitated the sprawling non-scrolling levels, fluid animation, and control style.
The game is set in ancient Persia. While the sultan is fighting a war in a foreign land, his vizier Jaffar, a wizard, seizes power. Jaffar's only obstacle to the throne is the Sultan's daughter (although the game never specifically mentions how). Jaffar locks her in a tower and orders her, under threat of execution, to become his wife. The game's nameless protagonist, whom the Princess loves, is thrown into the palace dungeons. The player must lead the protagonist out of the dungeons and to the palace tower, defeating Jaffar and freeing the Princess in under 60 minutes. In addition to guards, various traps and dungeons, the protagonist is further hindered by his own doppelgänger, an apparition of his own self that is conjured out of a magic mirror.
The main objective of the player is to lead the unnamed protagonist out of dungeons and into a tower before time runs out. This cannot be done without bypassing traps and fighting hostile swordsmen. The game consists of twelve levels (though some console versions have more). However, a game session may be saved and resumed at a later time only after level 2.
The player has a health indicator that consists of a series of small red triangles. The player starts with three. Each time the protagonist is damaged (cut by sword, fallen from two floors of heights or hit by a falling rock), the player loses one of these indicators. There are small jars containing potions of several colours and sizes. The red potions scattered throughout the game restore one health indicator. The blue potions are poisonous, and they take one life indicator as damage. There are also large jars of red potion that increase the maximum number of health indicators by one, and large jars of green potion that grants a temporarily ability to hover. If the player's health is reduced to zero, the protagonist dies. Subsequently, the game is restarted from the beginning of the stage in which the protagonist died but the timer will not reset to that point, effectively constituting a time penalty. There is no counter for the number of lives; but if time runs out, the princess will be gone and the game will be over.
There are three types of traps that the player must bypass: Spike traps, deep pits (three or more levels deep) and guillotines. Getting caught or falling into each results in the instant death of the protagonist. In addition, there are gates that can be raised for a short period of time by having the protagonist stand on the activation trigger. The player must pass through the gates while they are open, avoiding locking triggers. Sometimes, there are various traps between an unlock trigger and a gate.
Hostile swordsmen (Jaffar and his guards) are yet another obstacle. The player obtains a sword in the first stage, which they can use to fight these adversaries. The protagonist's sword maneuvers are as follows: advance, back off, slash, parry, or a combined parry-then-slash attack. Enemy swordsmen also have a health indicator similar to that of the protagonist. Killing them involves slashing them until their health indicator is depleted or by pushing them into traps while fighting.
In stage three a skeletal swordsman comes to life and does battle with the protagonist. The skeleton cannot be killed with the sword, but can be defeated by being dropped into one of the pits.
A unique trap encountered in stage four, which serves as a plot device, is a magic mirror, whose appearance is followed by an ominous leitmotif. The protagonist is forced to jump through this mirror upon which his doppelganger emerges from the other side, draining the protagonist's health to one. This apparition later hinders the protagonist by stealing a potion and throwing him into a dungeon. The protagonist cannot kill this apparition as they share lives; any damage inflicted upon one also hurts the other. Therefore, the protagonist must merge with his doppelganger.
In stage eight, the protagonist becomes trapped behind a gate before he can reach the exit. In this stage the Princess sends a white mouse to trigger the gate open again, allowing him to proceed to the next level.
In stage twelve protagonist faces his shadow doppelgänger. Once they have merged, the player can run across an invisible bridge to a new area, where they battle Jaffar (once the final checkpoint is reached, the player will no longer get a game over screen even if time runs out, except if the player dies after the timeout). Once Jaffar is defeated, his spell is broken and the Princess can be saved. In addition, the in-game timer is stopped at the moment of Jaffar's death, and the time remaining will appear on the high scores.
How to play:
Click on the joystick icon in the Prince of Persia online emulator to see how to control the Prince of Persia game