|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft Casablanca||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Dec. 4, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The only issues we had with combat are that the game often sandwiches you between two enemies with little room to maneuver. Additionally, when attempting to attack, often the Prince will roll (normally performed by double tapping the ground) instead - or vice versa. Lastly, though the game generally does a fine job of explaining the basics to you as you progress, there were a handful of pertinent details we missed along the way - specifically, how to command the Prince to guard. However, as we trudged through bouts of frustration and figured certain things out for ourselves, the combat proved to be some of the more enjoyable moments of our journey.
The game is broken up into several large areas, with multiple levels per area. When you first start out on your adventure, the platforming is kept relatively simple. As you progress into later levels, however, The Fallen King ramps up to offer some challenging yet truly inspirational platforming fun. For the most part, all of the game's many elements - platforming, combat, and controlling the magus - come together to make for very entertaining gameplay. The levels are creative and often pure joy to play through, but it's not all roses. Some level elements feel arbitrary, and others are mere throwbacks from previous levels. Additionally, the game will often force you to repeat levels in order to rescue the magus or acquire jewels, yet little new is offered when revisiting these areas.
On the presentation front, The Fallen King is an attractive package. There are some rough patches - not least of all the game's dialogue - but on the whole, it's a good-looking game with a story that feels distinctly Middle Eastern.
Though played from a side-scrolling perspective, The Fallen King offers fully 3D visuals. The art style will likely remind most folks of Phantom Hourglass, yet the colors and environments do a fair job of mimicking the latest console Prince of Persia. The character models look good, though some bosses are a bit uninspired. There are also quite a few instances of slowdown throughout the game, even when there aren't many objects onscreen. Our biggest complaint, however, is that some platforms and/or walls blend in too well with backgrounds, and you might occasionally find yourself stuck or perplexed by certain areas due to a nondescript key element in the environment. No matter, the game still offers some very attractive and detailed 3D on DS, and the dialogue stills and overworld areas lend an elegant touch to the overall experience.
There's no voice work here, but the Prince makes a few utterances when either taking damage or attacking. Probably the most enjoyable sound you'll hear, though, is when collecting coins (there must be something magical about coin collecting in a video game). You'll hear a pleasant chime as you grind down walls, collecting coins as you fall, and buying your way through locked doorways (which contain health upgrades) is also incentive to collect all the coins you can.
The music, however, is pretty disappointing. You'll hear many of the same themes repeatedly, and what's worse, most loops are little more than 10 seconds in length. Luckily, the music is unremarkable enough that it generally sits in the background without being disruptive. Of course, there are options to both raise and lower the music and sound effects.
All told, Prince of Persia: The Fallen King isn't quite the triumphant return of the Prince The Sands of Time was. There is some great platforming here, and there are many varied levels to traverse, all open for repeat visits at your leisure (though once you move on to another overworld segment, there's no going back). However, though the stylus controls fit the gameplay surprisingly well, the execution doesn't always match up. Issues with input recognition, as well as the omission of a few key bits of info, cause unnecessary frustration.
All that said, this is still very much a Prince of Persia game, and fans of the franchise shouldn't think twice about checking it out. The choice to go (almost) all-stylus was not a bad one, and barring a few frustrating flaws (that are likely the result of rushing the game out to market), players should find a fun, handheld PoP experience here.
CCC Freelance Writer