Thursday, September 2, 2010

VGR PoP3D Arabian Nights

And we're finally back with the Prince of Persia reviews~

You were waiting for my take on the Sands of Time trilogy? Well, next time!
We still have a trilogy to end before!

And in case you've missed it, here's quick links to:
- VGR PoP1
- VGR PoP2
(specially since I updated the look of those earlier reviews to match my current ones)

VGR: Prince of Persia 3D a.k.a. Arabian Nights 
From Red Orb (Brøderbund)/Avalanche Software/Mattel
Played on PC & Dreamcast
Also available as /

Type 3D Platformer
Year 1999

If you remember my PoP2 review, you know it was a game that got mixed reviews...
Some liked it, but the other half didn't.
The game left a strange impression..
So for a while, no more Prince of Persia games were developed...
Then, 10 years after the original, a sequel was finally made. It was gonna be another action-adventure platformer but this time, it wasn't a sidescroller...

The Prince is back. This time, he has polygones!! *dun dun duuun~*

The story takes place long after the previous episode.
The Prince is now living happy with the Princess of Persia.
One day, they go to see the Sultan's brother, Assan.
At the welcome party, the Princess is captured and the Prince is thrown into the dungeon...again...

The story is told every now and then by CGi scenes, which are holding up nicely compared to other games of the same year.

The Prince starts his journey, once again, from a cell in a dungeon...

Run, jump, climb, crouch...all in glorious 3D(TM) now!

This game was developed by Brøderbund, which evolved into Red Orb by the end of the 90s.
Yes, the same studio who ported PoP1 to every system of that era and who made PoP2.
So how does this all-new original PoP in 3D made from the scratch?

Pretty nice it seems.

I really like the 3D engine and graphics of this game.
The game looks and reminds me of those Tomb Raiders from Core Design. It has that same kind of 3D, character models and level design...except it looks cleaner, wider and a bit more Arabian Nights-y.

The aspect I liked the least about PoP2, meaning combat and dull level design, has been quite improved upon in this 3D installment!
The rooms are huge! The new areas have a ton to explore! There's a lot, and I mean like a ton of puzzles and enigmas!
And say goodbye to the random stupid fights of the previous game, it's back on duels! 1-on-1 swashbucklin sword fights!

With all the traditional precision and precise calculated platforming!

Graphically it doesn't look like the previous two games.
But gameplay wise, the experience is back to its roots.

The games require lots of attention on the player's parts.
You have to adjust your movements, your jumps, everything!

Brøderbund did really well their job this time around! The whole experience of Jordan Mechner's game is back.
Precision, difficult platforming were you'll die a zillion times, not because it's cheap but because of YOU the player!

Fight! The enemies are vicious~

The story is also quite interesting and brings up some nice twists here and there!

The Sultan promised the Princess' hand in marriage to Assan's own son, the Prince Rugnor. I won't spoil it here I you plan on discovering it by yourself, but let's just say it's very Arabien Nights tales-like.

And that is one of my favorite aspects of this game.
It goes back to the more magical-fantasy aspect. Flying cities, magical lakes, mystical creatures...
The music is also very well done. Not very present, but gives the perfect mood for this sort of tale!

You'll grab some new weapons alongside your journey and upgrades as well.
Keeping the on-going thema, you'll have more powerful magical swords, which will drain enemies lives and other effects. Different type of arrows. Magic potions to upgrade your lives, resplenish them or turn invisible...

Careful for the legion of hidden traps!!

So what is the catch?
Well, Brøderbund had financial problems back then.. They released an unfinished game on the market...and shut down not long after...
The game is kinda slow-ysh, has some issues and bugs...
I have no problem with its difficulty! Afterall, PoP games were never meant to be easy!
But it is an unfinished game! And it shows here and there! Though it doesn't mean the game's bad! (see another rushed game, ex: Crash Twinsanity) I've clearly seen worse rushed games (Sonic 2006...)

Not long after, Mattel, yes the toy maker, bought the game back and had a team finish it correctly.
This perfect final version was only released on the Dreamcast with a brand new subtitle: simply "PoP: Arabian Nights".

It changed lots of stuff.
Checkpoints were added for every little segment of levels. The game was correctly finished.
Better speed. Level design was edited and changed a bit. Blood and gore was taken out (sadly, but it doesn't affect gameplay and doesn't annoy me). Better gameplay, etc..
It really shows that this version was beta-tested!

Every room wants to kill you!! Run Prince, run!!

The Dreamcast game really fixed most things, but it's not the original experience anymore.
The shorter and divised levels change a bit the experience in my eyes...

Anyway, the game's very fun!
Quite challenging!
The combats are fun (blocking...attacking..sidestepping... feels like PoP1 all over again!)
The puzzles are great!
Its universe magic!
It really feels like the 3rd PoP, only in 3D this time!

The ending leaves the story a bit open ended...which would be "followed" by another developer...but we'll discuss that some other time~

Overall, I like this one better than part 2!
The team, Brøderbund, really got the best they could gameplay-wise.
It looks different but it feels the same.The Prince will follow the Princess all over Persia in this adventure.
The dungeon, the palace, the city, the streets, docks, caverns, the skies, in the mountains, another palace... whew! There's a lot to see! It looks part of the previous games' universe, there's some reminiscent scenery (specially the streets looking like in PoP2). Yet it goes a bit more into Arabian Nights territory.

I would recommend, to experience the whole experience, to really try playing both the PC version (with some bugs, problems, but longer challenging levels) and the Dreamcast version (the "corrected" version). But if you want or can only check one out, go for the Dream'!

My favorite part of this sequel might be its unique atmosphere and challenging platforming!
It's better than most Tomb Raiders in my eyes and a sadly underrated game in today's gaming culture...
(but back then, I used to see ads and reviews of this one all over the places! looks like people forgot about PoP3D :( oh well...)

I give it:

 2 / 3 Bruces!


  1. (Time to steal a YGO Abridged joke) It's Prince of Persia! IN 3D!!!!

    And it's the first time I heard a game was released unfinished, then later finished off and sold. If only most people did that.

  2. Well, the company was going bankrupt! The fans kinda deserved to have the game, even if it was the last thing they would produce and unfinished...

    It's a better game than PoP2. At least the experience & feeling is very close to Jordan Mechner's PoP.