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Forget Call of Duty, Real Men Need the Retro Love: ‘Prince of Persia’

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Here we are with 2013‘s final installment of piss-takey retro joy. What better subject than this little slice of sand-in-your-crack desert-y Persian goodness, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year?

That's a rhetorical question, gentlemen. Whether you have a better suggestion or not, Prince of Persia is coming at your eyes, ears and bodily orifices anyway, so buckle up.


This seminal platformer was created by Jordan Mechner, and arrived on craptacular old Apple IIs in 1989. It's the tale of a sultan, an anonymous hero, and a big ol' bastard traitorous vizier named Jaffar. (See also: that dick with the beard from Aladdin, who is also named 'Jafar'.) Said villain has imprisoned the Sultan's daughter in the tallest tower, and thrown her lover into the presumably flea-ridden dungeons far below. As this dude, your objective is to escape and liberate your lady-lust.

Which won't be the easiest of tasks. As anyone with any series-knowledge will know, the palace is replete with all manner of hideous booby traps. Disappearing steps, pits, surprise spikes, descending ceilings... if it can stab you in the ballsack or end your life in some other ghastly manner, the vizier has built it to use against you. Prince of Persia, then, was a new kind of platformer, one that blended combat and crazy-ass feats of athleticism. A kind of 2D Tomb Raider.

Jake Gyllenhaal loves Prince of Persia so much, he gathered all of his testosterone into a little ball and used it to grow a beard in the game's honor.

Much of this comes courtesy of the revolutionary (for the late eighties, that is, a time when cell phones weighing under seven tons was inconceivable) animation. The lead character's leaps, swings and such were produced using footage of the developer's brother, and so maintain that lifelike quality. As lifelike as a pale blond guy cruising through the desert could ever be, at any rate.

Upon release, Prince of Persia wasn't an instant success, but gathered itself some ball-busting momentum soon afterwards. It was hugely influential, and gave rise to its own genre: the cinematic platformer. We don't know what that means, but it sounds pretty damn badass and dramatic. After all, it surely inspired the archeological adventures of everyone's favorite boob-jiggling explorer, Lara Croft (Harrison Ford comes a close second, he's been getting a little middle aged spread-y of late), so let's all be thankful for that.

More recently, the franchise was rebooted with 2003‘s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. All of the rope swinging, trap dodging and wall running shenanigans of yore were brought into the third dimension, and gave a great sense of scale and scope. It was exciting and shiny and new and all that sort of balls, and hugely important again. It's that very ‘feel' which has led many players to conclude that the games are the spiritual predecessor to the much-beloved Assassin's Creed series. Quite a legacy, for a little blond dude in his cliched baggy desert pants.

And now, behold!

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