Saturday, June 18, 2011

VGR PoP Fallen King

Sometimes simply called "Prince of Persia" in some countries, without the subtitle like the 2008 reboot.
The Fallen King is a brand new episode in the PoP franchise.
Released around the same time, it is actually a sequel to the Tree of Life story. Taking place even further in the story, right after the Epilogue. (which was published even a year after down the line and bridging both games)

You probably know my love for "chibi" episodes in series, I had to get this one day-one!
How did it fare, and was it a worthy entry in the long running Prince of Persia series?

VGR: Prince of Persia: The Fallen King
From Ubisoft/Ubisoft Casablanca
Played on Nintendo DS
Also available on /
Type Sidescrollin' platformer
Year 2008

This game isn't actually the first time Ubisoft played with a sidescroller Prince of Persia (like the original!). Ubi tried playing with the original formula of the series in past Mobiles and GBA adaptations of the Sands of Time series.

But it certainly is the first time they tried making an original entry for an handheld system rather than a port.
(and unlike previous spinoffs, this one is a platformer and not some attempt at playing with genres)

Since this was one of the first games from their then-new studio Ubisoft Casablanca (yay for another Ubi studio in another country!) and a DS exclusive, they had to play a bit with the conept and gameplay...

Our favorite Prince is back for m... Wait?! What's with his design this time??

The Fallen King sees the return of the new claw-equipped Prince in a new adventure.

We're once again back in ancient Persia. The story follows the ending of his previous adventure.
The battle between the gods of light and shadow goes on, Ormazd and Ahriman.
Elika and the Prince splitted. She stayed with the Ahura to lead a resistance force while the Prince went on his own to find a solution.

At the beginning of this story, told via still artworks in sepia tones, the Prince arrives in a new place, the City of the New Dawn.
The newly re-liberated Ahriman is wrecking havoc all over the world, spreading like a disease, infecting the land. The Prince tries to locate the local King of the land to help put a stop to Ahriman. There's tales of this king who supposedly was able to communicate with and summon Ormazd.

On his arrival, the Prince meets a new companion, Zal, one of the King's Magi.
Zal has half of his body already corrupted.
Together they team up in their quest to find the King who's been literally split in two by the Corruption.

Once's fine. Twice won't go the same way.

Having an ally in his quest's becoming the main mechanic of this new PoP series.

You'll find yourself controlling the Prince once more, this time in a sidescrolling point of view.
The Prince plays as you'd expect. He uses his acrobatics to move around, jump, climb, claw his way on the side of surfaces to use it to jump around some more and move on.
The duels are back like in the original Jordan Mechner classic (and the next gen console version).
And no more random beat 'em all mélee combat like in the Sands of Time series. But traditional duels one-on-one (and something one-on-two enemies coming by both side). Where the key to win is to play between the simple and basic three abilities. Strike, block or use the magical powers.

That's right, Zal will provide some additional controls to the table.
You'll play as both the Prince and Zal. The Prince covers the physical attacks/controls and Zal will use magical attacks/powers.
Zal's magic will help you grab part of the Corruption to your own advantage. (catch the Prince to move him around, interact with the level design, move platforms, etc..)
Throughout the game he will obtain new powers, you'll gain new techniques to progress and sometimes even revisits places.

The Prince will follow the stylus.

Where the game probably leaves mixed opinions is on its gameplay.
You don't control directly the Prince. But rather, the direction he will run to.
The game is entirely controlled by the DS' stylus.

The platforming is done by tapping on the touchscreen, setting a direction for the Prince to move forward.
For example to climb a surface you'll tap the direction for him to run to, tap the wall and he'll jump over it and use his claw to stick on it and tap a rope nearby, for example, for him to jump off the wall.

It gets a moment to get used to.
But I seriously didn't had much problem with these controls after a while.
The difficulty is quite progressive and in the end you'll find yourself doing it easily and so much more.

Besides these unusual setting, you will get such an old school feel that the new control becomes second hand.
It feels pretty similarly to the original PoP.
(don't judge the game solely on that, only crybabies complain about such superficial changes and evolution)

Yup, another day in Persia.

The main objective is to collect 4 pieces of a seal to banish Ahriman from the Land. And find the King.

Through the adventure, Zal will become more and more corrupted, so you'll even have to find him back in some older (indicated) levels and defeat him once or trice.

The music, a point I love to discuss in PoP installments, isn't something to write about really.
It does its job I guess, but is also pretty forgettable. Apart from the PoP 2008 Main Theme remixed for the system.

The graphics are in 3D (and some elements in 2D). Nice, colorful, apart from the more Corrupted sceneries, which use more tern color palettes.
The top screen will display the level's map. Boss fight are huge and will take both screens.
The game contains a ton of levels spread around various "worlds". (and there's a level selection map for each zone)

Overall, it's nice throwback at the original game. And also a good continuation of the main 2008 PoP game.
Not an important plot-advancing sequel. But a nice filler. 
(I doubt it will have much impact on the following game)

The platforming by tapping needs some time to get used to, but nothing impossible, really.
Whether or not you'll like it depends on how well you can handle stylus-only platforming.

If there's one big criticism against this one, it's that it's too darn' long. (something you never hear much these days, as far as platformers go)
But for me, who's been through lots of long 80s/90s platform games (Mario Bros 3, Rayman,...) it wasn't that hard or impossible to finish.

If you like exploring the "Arabian Nights"-ysh Persia in this legendary series, you'll probably like this one as well.
If you're not liking the concept of controlling an acrobatic character through the stylus only (no option to not do so) or all this I've talked about above, move on!

I give it:
 2 / 3 Bruces!

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