Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Tits & Sand (& Pixels): Prince of Persia 2

Leave a comment

boxshotI was asked about Prince of Persia 2 a few hours back, just as I was looking for some images to illustrate this post.
I’m not a fan of nostalgia gaming, but indeed there were some interesting gamesd in the past1, and maybe something interesting can be extracted from those memories.

The complete title was Prince of Persia2: The Shadow and the Flame, and it came out in 1993. It worked with both DOS and Windows.
By that time I had a color PC display, and the new game looked like a million dollars on my Zenith . And indeed, superficially, it looked just like that – more eye candy, a refurbished look for a game that was basically the same.

The gist of the game: evil vizier Jaffar, that we thought defeated at the end of the original game, is back. He steals the Princes’ identity, puts a death spell on the Princess, and sits on the throne. But once again the Prince escaped his captors, and he’s on a quest for the tools that will help him defeat the bad guy.

So, here’s a first interesting difference: Prince of Persia 2 is not a reboot, but is a direct sequel, starting a few days after the conclusion of the previous game. Sure, it can be played as a standalone, but many elements are brought back from the original, and the sense of continuity is very strong.

pop1-gif

New looks, we said.
And indeed the playing field is much wider and varied: in the original, the action and the narrative were linear, the hero running through corridors and fighting adversaries. The whole story takes place in the Sultan’s palace.
In Prince of Persia 2 the action is still linear, but the path the hero must follow touches a number of different places. There is an initial escape through the rooftops, an evasion by ship and a shipwreck, a haunted island, a lost city, a temple…
The variety of venues creates an illusion of non-linearity in the narrative. We are not following a track, a corridor – we are actually exploring a world. Or so it seems.

prince-of-persia-2-the-shadow-the-flame-prince-of-persia-34329189-500-375

This sense of scope is enhanced and magnified by another simple narrative device: back story.
By using a ghostly voice as a guide (sound technology having improved since 1989), a layer of mystery and a few choice snippets of backstory are inserted in the plot, and all of a sudden we have a much larger world, a deeper history, a past, a story.

What was basically a side-scrolling platform game turns into an adventure.
And a very satisfactory one, featuring homages to classic Arabian Nights movies (the flying carpet, the enchanted horse, etc…)

368905-prince-of-persia-2-the-shadow-the-flame-macintosh-screenshot

And it’s a pity that the third planned instalment of the series was never developed – as this second episode drops a few heavy hooks that are never developed (including an “Army of Darkness” whose name alone is very suggestive).

Once again, by using a DOD emulator and perusing abandonware websites you could easily try it for yourselves. It’s old, and it shows, but in 1993 it was a blast, and the opening sequence with the escape through the rooftops and the port, was for us absolutely breathtaking.
And we replayed it dozens of times to get familiar with the keyboard commands.

I played the following game, Prince of Persia 3D, but I really don’t remember it, which is to me a true sign it was not that good. And I never played any other game in the series.


  1. it’s been a while since I last spent money and time on a game. 
Advertisements

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s