Games / Game Reviews

Review: Prince of Persia: The Fallen King

By Jeff Green
March 5, 2009 - 16:00

Since the launch of the Nintendo DS developers have been working on creative ways to make old genres new again. We've seen touch screen gaming reinvent adventure games with The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass , action games with Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword and even puzzle games with Tetris DS . One genre that hasn't been really affected yet, though, is the traditional side scrolling platformer. Even Nintendo's efforts, such as New Super Mario Bros. and Kirby Squeak Squad stick to traditional button platforming. Seeing an opportunity to do something new, Ubisoft has stepped in with the release of Prince of Persia: The Fallen King to try and show how touch screen platforming can be done.

The Fallen King falls into the world of the recent Prince of Persia for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Corruption has taken over the land, and the Prince is working to rid the world of it. He ventures to meet a King whom he believes can help, only to find him

overtaken by corruption as well. Instead he finds The Magus, a secretive character, who is half corrupted and whose intentions are unclear. This story doesn't really work to draw the player into the game, nor do the pictures with text overlaid. While this may only be a DS game, fitting in voice acting would have gone a long way to help out here. The fact that the Prince of the cutscenes and the Prince of the gameplay look like two different characters doesn't help either.

The game starts out quite strong, with the stylus being your guiding rod. To move right, the stylus is held down to the Prince's right. To jump, just touch the platform and the Prince will automatically jump to it. This same basic scheme applies to all of the acrobatic moves the game provides to the player, from wall jumping to pole swinging. For the first little while the controls work quite well, and help to make the game move smoothly.

Not long into the adventure, upon teaming up with The Magus, the Prince gains an ability or two, with more being introduced as the game moves along. There are free orbs of corruption hanging around the environment which can be zipped to, and other orbs which can be used as explosive. Corruption can be formed into solid walls to continue the platforming, or to build bridges to span gaps. This is where the development starts to falter.

To create bridges and walls with corruption, it must be dragged across the screen with the stylus, then solidified by rubbing on it. It doesn't work, and is an exercise in

frustration. Corruption dragging works fine, but won't always go to the exact point it needs to, and will stop mid-move. If the corruption gets to where it needs to go, actually solidifying it so you can run up a wall will work, on occasion. This all starts cropping up later on in the game, and will frustrate endlessly. It also mixes with the basic platforming breaking down. As more short platforms appear and the challenge ramps up, the game has a hard time differentiating between “do I want to jump to the next platform” and “do I want to run off the side of this ledge to my imminent doom”. I lost count of how many times I died because of this, and wanted to quit in frustration.

Mixed in with the platforming is combat. Throughout the game there are three different enemy types the Prince will bump into. Normal, Strong, and Flying. That's it for the whole game. They don't even change colours from level to level. For the normal ones a quick stylus tap on them will attack, a tap on the Prince will block, and that's the combat. The strong ones need to have a shield pulled away from them first, and are then normal. This breaks combat into attack, attack, block. There aren't any other options. More than two attacks, and the enemy will land a hit, guaranteed. Theoretically there's a strong attack but there's no time in combat to pull the move off.

Whilst jumping around the levels there are different articles and chests to collect. The items can be money or extra health. These might have added some replay value, had the player been able to jump back to previous levels in the game. Instead, once a world has been defeated it can not be returned to.

To finish off a world, a boss must be defeated. The boss fights are completely nonsensical. They try and use the same basic combat as the game, but it doesn't work when the best combo you can land is two hits. Add to that basic confusion over how to defeat a boss, as it sometimes felt more like dumb luck than true skill. Death also comes regularly, though strangely the Prince never seemed to die, and was just revived almost endlessly. It takes some of the challenge out of the fight.

The Fallen King takes after New Super Mario Bros. visually, with the gameplay in strict 2D while everything in the game world is 3D. The look just does not fit, and everything ends up feeling flat and lacking detail. While possibly unpopular, sprites may have been a better option as some detail could have been shown. The game also has some slowdown later on, when battles occur. As far as the music and sound go, it's all standard fare. Everything works just fine, but really, the game should have had voice acting.

In the end, the controls really leaves Prince of Persia: The Fallen King bruised, battered, and broken. When the controls work, it can actually be fun to swing around the levels on the DS, but unfortunately the touch implementation fails the player too often. If everything had run perfectly I could have imagined enjoying the platforming, though the boss battles and combat still would have been worthless. But in a rush to get this out for holiday 2008, and alongside its big brother, the game's quality suffers in too large a way to recommend.

Skip It

Last Updated: December 31, 2019 - 20:28

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