Review: Prince of Persia Retro [iPhone/iPod Touch]

I’ve been pretty lucky, when I think about it, in that my dad’s a bit of a geek too. That meant we always had a computer in the house and pretty much fed my geeky side from the very start. I’ve spoken elsewhere about our Commodore allegiance, but we also had a succession of IBM Compatible PCs.

One of the games I loved on the PC was Prince of Persia. Well, I say, “loved”… I mean “played and got immensely frustrated at”! It was a great game and, at the time, looked amazing. It was just brain-poppingly difficult! But it rewarded repeated play as you started to remember where the traps and dangers were on each level.

With the Prince of Persia: Sands of Time movie coming out, it must have seemed a good time to re-release the original game for iPhone and iPod Touch – which is exactly what Ubisoft have done. So what’s it like?

Hard as nails

It’s still bloomin’ hard – it’s very easy to miss a clue as to which floor panel will drop away and leave you impaled on spikes. Or, come to think of it, which panel will drop out of the ceiling and prematurely end your game. Trap-switches mean gates close just as you’ve navigate your way over to them, and there are more than a few areas I can see but not get to. The weird thing is that if this happened in a modern game I would be up in arms over it, but because this is authentic to the original Prince of Persia experience, I’m more wiling to let it slide.

Retro graphics

I’m pretty sure our PC had the EGA graphics card. We’re not exactly talking high-def here. The iPhone/iPod Touch graphics, however, are improved when compared to the original, but not to the point where it looks like a total conversion. Good plan, Ubisoft, because when I look at the original Prince of Persia on YouTube I’m a little surprised at how plain the graphics were. Tarting the graphics up a little keeps it looking decent without ruining the retro feel.

I do think it’s amazing how forgiving we were towards graphics back then. I guess it was because we knew that as about as good as it could get (at the time) so we just filled in the details with our imaginations. It makes it a little strange when you look back at games now that we’re used to HD content on demand. Anyway, back to the review.

I’m just a control freak

The controls are a simple affair. There are on-screen controls for moving left and right, jumping and crouching. I had completely forgotten that you could also sneak and grab hold of ledges as there isn’t an on-screen control for that… instead you touch the screen anywhere other than a direction control. You won’t be able to get very far without that ability, so remember it! I do have to say the controls are a little imprecise, though… I’ve run off a ledge more than once when I meant to jump.

Is it worth buying?

Prince of Persia is difficult, fiddly, and the graphics aren’t the best. But it’s the genesis of the whole Prince of Persia franchise and a classic piece of gaming history. It’s still as fun as it is difficult, and well worth adding to that ever-growing catalogue of app purchases you haven’t admitted to yet ;) It’s driving me mad, but I’m determined to defeat every level. Think you can do it before me?

Buy Prince of Persia Retro from the iTunes App Store (aff).

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