Memories of the game
July 2, 2018 at 11:37 pm #1579
I have this one covered 🙂
Prince of Persia has been one of my favourite games for as long as I can remember, and despite that, I feel somewhat guilty because I’ve never paid any money for it. It was one of those games that fit on to one disk that got passed around everywhere, and just existed on people’s computers as if it were part of the operating system – it had a weak enough copy protection for it just to be a slight inconvenience. More troublesome was the lack of the manual, and it was only through a huge amount of trial and error that my siblings and I discovered the various uses of the Shift key – to attack, to take careful steps, to cling on and to pick up items. (We managed to get to the end of level 1 before having to use any of these, helped by Down being an acceptable substitute to pick up the sword!)
I was terrified of this game because of how unpredictable it was – every level introduces something unique, new and dangerous for the Prince to deal with. Your character’s fragility and realism definitely played a part in that as well – it’s so hard to remember today because it’s so standard for characters to look realistic in the days when every shoelace and eyebrow has its own collision and rendering system, but it’s hard to overstate how incredible it was to see a game character run and jump like an actual human. We got stuck at the penultimate fight, and it was only when a friend’s older brother excitedly told us they’d worked out how to get past it that we were able to continue – I miss that era, which is impossible to recreate now in the days when answers on the Internet are just a moment away.
In the early 2000s I was pretty competitive at speedrunning the game, being just a couple of seconds off the world record at one point when it was held by a couple of Dutch players called Jan and Rob. http://www.tammo80.nl/prince/prince.html Since then, I’ve fallen miles behind again as new techniques have been discovered – I think it’s one of the earliest games that really lends itself to be speedrun, having very precise controls with a lot of subtleties and a stack of interesting bugs and workarounds 🙂
So I think I’ll spend this month trying to relearn a speedrun for the game! I’ll let you know how it goes…July 3, 2018 at 7:57 am #1582
I think I never made it past level 3 as a kid. Somehow I knew all the uses of the shift key, it may have been a friend who told me about them. I never had it on my own computer (somehow very few titles made their way there), but I played it on the computer by Belgian uncle gave me for when I was visiting my grandpa there. It only had a monochrome graphics card. Can you imagine my surprise when I saw it in four color CGA a few years later?
But I didn’t learn anything from that and had the same experience a few years ago when I first saw it in VGA.
Next you’re going to tell me it has Voodoo support, right?
PixParticipantPodcasterJuly 3, 2018 at 11:18 am #1583
It’s also a favourite of mine back from when I was first getting into DOS gaming. My Dad worked at a university and would occasionally take me along and leave me in one of the computer labs to play games on all the state of the art PC’s that were about 10 times faster than the one I had at home. I remember one of the techies showing me this for the first time and my jaw hitting the floor. It still looks decent but you really have to have been there at the time to know how mind blowing the animation was. Safe to say I took a pirated copy home with me so I also didn’t pay for it at the time. Surprisingly, it ran just as well on a lower spec PC + the digitized samples with a Soundblaster were as amazing as the graphics.
Prince Of Persia actually has the gameplay to back it all up. I really like the one hour time mechanic in this with the unlimited lives. It can be harsh sending you back a good way every time you slip up but the controls are precise and you will get further every time you play the game. There is enough risk to make some of the jumps extremely tense even when you do know the game. It’s as much a puzzle game as a platformer with a good few leaps of faith required to actually get to the end.
Once you do know what to do, it’s not all that hard. I was no speed runner but used to be able to finish with well over half the time to spare. I ran out of time on the penultimate level last night but won easily enough at the second attempt with 22 minutes left having jogged my memory about some of the levels. Rather than try to beat that, I’m going to take on the sequel instead. I don’t know it anywhere near as well but remember it being the single most difficult and frustrating game I’ve ever actually finished. I’d like to think that I won’t find it as tricky this time around but I’m probably kidding myself.
I did buy these games eventually. Here’s a few photos of the box which is one of the more unusual ones out there. This is actually the Mac version but it’s near enough the same as DOS.July 3, 2018 at 11:31 am #1585
I tried finding the game on eBay. At least around here it’s virtually impossible 🙁
PixParticipantPodcasterJuly 3, 2018 at 11:39 am #1586
I’d guess I’ve had this one for 15-20 years now. It wasn’t all that easy to get hold of even back then or I wouldn’t have ended up with the Mac version. If there are any on Ebay, I can imagine trying to find them among all the sequels being a nightmare.July 4, 2018 at 2:11 pm #1589
Oh yeah! Once I saw that Prince of Persia is the next month’s game, I couldn’t wait for it to actually show up in the forums so I could participate in the discussions.
This is one of my all-time favorite games – both the original, and the entire series. With the exception of the really rather terrible “Prince of Persia 3D” and the rather OK-but-bland “Forgotten Sands”, I have fond memories of all the games.
But, since this is mostly about the original, let’s go back to that. 🙂
It is one of the earliest PC games I’ve been introduced to, playing it during the early nineties on my uncle’s 386. Naturally I sucked badly. A couple of years later a friend of mine got it on his 386, and this time we played together and gradually got better, until we could each beat the game. It really felt like an accomplishment.
And funnily, Prince of Persia is one of the game that I own legally, without having paid for it directly. I received the CD version of PoP + PoP2 with a monthly PC gaming magazine I was subscribed to back in the nineties. That version still had the original copy protection, but they forgot to attach the relevant manual information until the following month. 🙁 I bet many folks that did not already own cracked versions were quite unhappy about it.July 5, 2018 at 8:17 am #1592
> That version still had the original copy protection, but they forgot to attach the relevant manual information until the following month.
LOL. This is hilarious.July 7, 2018 at 7:29 pm #1596
Hey hey, I’m back from holidays and dove straight into the game.
I just beat it, with 11 minutes and 23 seconds to spare \o/
All the way through, I was convinced I had never beaten it before. But every single level was familiar, up to the very end, so I guess I have beaten it? Haha. Maybe I used the megahit cheat code before, but this time it was an honest run from start to finish (apart from some save scumming, which I feel is allowed).
Truly awesome game, this. And incredibly influential of course!July 8, 2018 at 12:47 pm #1599
Sweet! Did you get all the life-extending potions (Levels 2,3,4,7,9,11)? If so, you would have 10 hit points at the end of it (you get another one by merging with your reflection).July 8, 2018 at 9:18 pm #1602
No, I think I only got half of that 😮 But tbh the hitpoints aren’t really that useful. It’s better to be careful and learn how to fight properly, haha 😀July 9, 2018 at 9:04 am #1604
That’s true. In fact, the first component to any speedrun is skipping all these upgrades. A lot of time is saved this way.
Prince of Persia 2 makes it impossible to skip the life upgrades! You start with 3 hitpoints, can get a maximum of 12, and need at least 11 to beat the last level. If you got to the last level with fewer than that, there is an endless supply of life-extending potions, but it takes time to get them, probably more than you would save by skipping the upgrades throughout the levels.
It is also worth mentioning, that (unlike in PoP1) there are more life upgrades scattered in the levels of PoP2 than the maximum number of hitpoints you can get, so some of them are worth skipping; speedrun experts know which ones. 🙂July 9, 2018 at 12:20 pm #1609
I only got a single upgrade in my playthrough. Even that was unnecessary in the end. Once you master sword fighting it’s very unlikely you ever lose a hitpoint.
I think the only essential potion is the feather falling one without which you cannot finish that one level.July 9, 2018 at 12:40 pm #1611
>> I think the only essential potion is the feather falling
>> one without which you cannot finish that one level.
Even that is not essential, if you have at least two hitpoints left. You can just hang down from the ledge and drop; this makes it a two-storey drop, so you only lose a single hitpoint. 😀July 9, 2018 at 9:30 pm #1612
I always found it strange that Jordan put the potion there where you didn’t even need it, when it could have been at the top of an impossible drop instead!
The green potion on level 9 is a great surprise moment as well, but I’d completely forgotten that it existed because you never need to go there!July 17, 2018 at 8:47 am #1619
That’s the upside-down one, right? Yeah, it’s kind of bizarre it’s there to begin with, haha.July 18, 2018 at 2:23 am #1620
I think Jordan Mechner threw that in as a follow up to a feature in his previous game Karateka – https://tcrf.net/Karateka_(Apple_II) – where he went to the trouble of providing an entire second copy of the game modified to display upside down for the sake of a joke! That’s dedication 🙂
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