Review: Prince of Persia (3DS eShop / GBC)

Lowly servant of Persia

There's no question the original Prince of Persia is a classic game, with its iconic realistic movements, precision platforming and time limit. It's been ported to many, many platforms over the years, but does this handheld version hold up as well as other versions?

In the transition to Game Boy Color, most of the game has surprisingly been left intact. All 13 original levels are there and all of them have the same layout and challenges. Every gameplay feature is still there: spikes, guillotines, guards and anything else you can possibly think of. Due to the lack of space on the Game Boy screen, the few screens that originally had a large number of traps in a row (three or more) have been cut down to two.

The overall goal is still the same: you've got to stop Jaffar from marrying the princess, and you've got one hour to do so, during which you'll have to avoid a ton of traps, battle the palace guards and figure out the locations of secret paths.

Platforming-wise the game has made the transition nicely and is pretty much the same, but the combat is a different story. The hit detection in this version is incredibly wonky, and attacks that should have clearly hit enemies will more often than not miss if you decide to go on the offensive. Parrying also fails extremely often, which means that generally the best tactic here is to simply cheap it out and stand still, only swinging your sword when enemies move towards you, making combat far less fun.

For some reason the combat also controls very strangely. You'll have to press left or right repeatedly to move around (one press for each step) rather than simply being able to hold the direction down, and you need to hold the attack/parry buttons for a bit before your character actually does what he's told; very quickly tapping one of the buttons does nothing.

Aside from that, there's also a couple of other, more minor annoyances in this version of the game. Good and bad potions, as well as life increasing potions all look the same here, with absolutely no way to distinguish between them. Other versions of the game have at least had the decency to make the life increasing ones look different, but the only way to make sure here is to drink every single potion you find. The Game Boy's smaller screen has also resulted in some rooms requiring much more extreme timing than originally, especially when guillotines are involved.

Thankfully, while these things would be extremely annoying when played on an actual Game Boy Color, the presence of the 3DS Virtual Console's save states makes them much less aggravating. They'll still be an annoyance, but at least you won't have to continuously go back to the start of a level because you messed up one very difficult jump.

Graphics-wise the game looks all right, though the characters' animations are quite clearly a lot less fluid. There's no music, just like in the original, but the few jingles that play whenever you accomplish something don't sound that good and are fairly annoying and screechy.

Conclusion

The Game Boy Color version of Prince of Persia is an alright port, though it is marred a bit by a handful of small annoyances. If you don't have any other options, it might entertain you for a while, but it goes without saying that if you also have access to a Wii, you would be much, much better off getting the much better Prince of Persia on SNES instead.

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