Sunday, July 14, 2013

VGR Battles of Prince of Persia

And with this, I've officially properly reviewed the entire Prince of Persia franchise!

Will I move on to slightly related stuff like Jordan Mechner's other work or the Assassin's Creed series? Stay tuned for that!~

The Sands of Time are full of stories of Prince of Persias, Evil Vizirs and Gorgeous Princesses!

VGR: Battles of Prince of Persia
From Ubisoft Divertissements Inc./Ubisoft
Played on Nintendo DS
Also available on /

Type Isometric/turn-based tactics
Year 2005

The year was 2005. Ubisoft's Prince of Persia series was at its highest in both popularity and sales.

So naturally they tried to cash on this fame while it was good with several tie-in handheld games for mobile phones. And this first Nintendo DS game.

The game was released right around the release of the final episode of the Sands of Time Trilogy, Two Thrones.

Battles of Prince of Persia wasn't just an adaptation of an actual previous game but specifically designed for the Nintendo DS. This DS episode took the classic platform series into another direction.

A turn-based strategy/tactical game from an isometric point of view. Using a card-system to move your units on the map and attack.

The story wasn't ignored either.

For this occasion, Ubi decided to expand on the PoP mythos (long before the Forgotten Sands episodes).

The story takes place

The plot right during the missing years between The Sands of Time and Warrior Within. Shortly before WW actually.

A mysterious creature later identified as the Dahaka, protector of time/an incarnation of fate, as appeared from nowhere. And it has been chasing after The Prince lately. He's only been able to elude it for a while before it reappears out of thin air, once more on his trail.

The Prince discovers that it was because he played with time and cheated his own death.

He is able to locate a mysterious box that is tied to similar legends to the Dahaka. Only it is hidden in India.

He finds a solution... he is able to instigate a conflict between Persia and India for his own purpose.

But opening that box releases the Deavas, demons trapped in that for ages.

During the course of the game he fights these Deavas creatures, wages war with India and directly with Farah's own brother, Kalim.

In turn these dark times of war slowly turn him into a much darker figure..

The story is told through static realistic and detailed pictures of the characters talking on one screen, and cartoony simple representations of the on-going cutscenes on the above one. Which is a bit strange at first, but you get used to it.

There's a lot of mixed art styles through this entire game.

Which seems to be the big thing about Battles of Prince of Persia.

"Patchwork" really seems to be the keyword here.

Let's try a quick summary of the game:

You get a deck of cards at the beginning of the game, you will be able to collect more when defeating an army during a chapter/skirmish. The game shuffles your current set of cards every turn, once every characters has played its move. The higher the number of the card the more moves you get.

At the beginning of a game you can place your units wherever you want on your opening land. It's important to take notice of the land because it has an influence on your movements. (for example a forest will block your path, you can only move one character at a time over a bridge, etc.)

Each unit has about ~30 or so hits (depending on the class), its own strengths (can it attack from afar? what its defense?) and weaknesses (can it survive long in a melee). They're the usual infantry for the era: Sword guys, Archers, Cavalry, etc. Your health/units lefts are indicated on your unit's icon.

The direction your looking at when attacking or where you were left looking at when attacked has also its importance!

When someone attacks another it is displayed as a quick animated scene on the above DS screen. Characters are well drawn and the attacks are nice, the number of members of your unit is simplified (for example 3 characters on screen representing your 30 guys).

There's a lot of factors to take into account, which seems a bit jarring at first. Like strengths and weaknesses, effectiveness of each unit against other types. It comes naturally enough, but if you don't care about it you'll make more "misses" than "hits".

Finally you will be facing some ancient evil Generals. The entire game is based around these "Generals", typically called heroes in other similar games. The Prince being one and the strongest of the entire game. Each faction has its own Generals. These can face huge numbers by themselves and are the strongest units in the whole game so don't lose 'em too soon in a match!

Graphically it looks pretty simple and modest at first, but the gameplay is really complicated and deep.

A bit too much I think.

While trying to be really different, unique and creative, they overdid it a notch. It could have been so much better if better presented or simplified.

3 factions (Persia, India, Deavas), 9 Generals and about 27 different units!

The game has a lot for its replay value. The campaign is long enough and starts easily enough. There are some original chapters such as "reaching a point B from A" or "finding X on the map" where the goal isn't merely defeating your foes. And you won't be just playing as the Persians the entire game.

If that's not enough for you, along the campaign are also customizable skirmish and multiplayer modes.

It's fun to understand the rules as you play along and try giving orders to your entire army/moving around the land, but the game gets a bit repetitive shortly. That is, if you're not into it.

As far as strategy tactical game go, there's much better similar games on handheld systems "on the go". On the DS alone! Such as the Fire Emblem or Advance Wars series.

Collecting cards isn't that much interesting since they're not that great to look at to begin with, can't be seen full screen either and the game is perfectly playable/the ending reachable with only the original starter set.

You can have up to 3 separate card decks to command your forces.

It looks complicated at first glance, but if you're willing to give it a chance it's actually sort of fun. Not that "ugly" or unplayable but it is a bit messy.

In the end, it is the furthest game you'll ever find from the Jordan Mechner classic.

Overall, it's okay. But not great. Far from it.

Let's just say, there's definitively some good ideas in there, but you need to dedicate some of your time to get to 'em.

Fans of the PoP series will no doubt enjoy the atmosphere, but the game is unnecessary convulsed.

With one gimmick too many to really be a fun experience. (you have the tactical aspect, the cards, the randomness of some actions, the land you walk on, the units on your armies, each unit's stats plus the powers you can use on your troops...)

A strange patchwork.

I give it:
1 / 3 Yuri!

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