Jeremy Jastrzab
01 Feb, 2009

Prince of Persia: The Fallen King Review

DS Review | When an idea just isn't enough.
After a great trilogy on the PS2, Xbox and GameCube, the Prince of Persia made another successful return on the Xbox 360 and PS3. Ubisoft have obviously taken a liking to their new style, and seem to be keen to utilise it. And so, we have the Prince of Persia: The Fallen King for the Nintendo DS. It starts off well enough, as there are some great ideas at play. Unfortunately, successes in gaming are defined by how well a game has its ideas utilised and not on the idea alone. So while Prince of Persia: The Fallen King is not a terrible game, the failure to capitalise on the ideas leaves us pondering about what could have been.

Given the way the story of the new Prince of Persia panned out on the consoles, its difficult to see where exactly The Fallen King ought to be placed. It still uses the ‘new’ Prince, the Princess of Ahura, Elika and the God of Darkness, Ahriman. The story here starts with Ahriman’s release, and the Prince is sent to find a King with the ability to summon the God of Light, Ormazd. Unfortunately, the King has fallen to Ahriman’s corruption and it’s up to the Prince to team up with a local mage named Zal. Together, they are out to save the Kingdom and drive out Ahriman’s dark influence.

Zal isn't as charismatic as the Prince... or Elika.

Zal isn't as charismatic as the Prince... or Elika.
The story is weaker than the console counterpart, particularly in terms of delivery and depth. Told through a few intermittent 2D sequences, there isn’t too much more to be learned about the world that has been created for this Prince of Persia saga. However, fans of the console game would be glad to hear that the Prince retains his newfound ‘spunk’ and attitude, even if it has been toned down due to system limitations. Unfortunately, the Prince and Zal aren’t as dynamic a pairing as the Prince and Elika in terms of character interaction.

Ubisoft had quite the brain wave when thinking about how to bring this game to the DS. Most recognise that The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass managed to pull off touch screen only controls really well, so it seems that Ubi used this as inspiration. That is, Prince of Persia: The Fallen King is almost solely controlled by using the stylus, while on a 2D plane. The reason we say almost is that Zal’s abilities that help the Prince progress are triggered by holding down any direction on the d-pad then following this up with some stylus moves.

As a throw back to the traditional Prince of Persia games with a modern twist, the idea is actually a good one that works, on paper. Virtually everything that you would have liked to do to get the Prince from point A to point B can be done. So, you’ll be jumping across bottomless pits, wall-jumping and sliding, climbing ropes, swinging, fighting the corruption and manipulating the environment and laws of physics with the help of Zal. Best of all, the actual level design is strong enough while still being suitably varied to make this work, and the levels aren’t too long so it’s a good game to pick up and play. So what happened?

The Prince would rather be anything but lonely.

The Prince would rather be anything but lonely.
The idea of using the touch screen to move the Prince is fine. Unfortunately, the idea doesn’t work as well as it was intended. Don’t get us wrong, you can still do everything that the game intended for you. However, there is too much inconsistency in the touch screen recognition for the game to be comfortable. Basically, you’ll tap or move the stylus with the intention of doing a particular action, only for there to be no response. So while you'll finish the level or the game, there will be several unnecessary trips to the checkpoints along the way.

This would be all good if it weren’t for the fact that the game relies on proficiency in your moves to progress. There are instances where you need to move quickly or accurately, such as trying to avoid massive spinning gears, and you will then be forced to restart because the game won’t respond to your inputs. This is slightly alleviated by some very generous checkpoints, but at the same time, we would have preferred the game to be more accurate with the input recognition or at least tell us if we were doing something wrong.

This is a real shame, because as we mentioned, the input idea is a good one. Furthermore, the design team seemed to have taken this idea into account when constructing the game several dozen levels. There is a suitable amount of variety and challenges within each of the levels, while you’ll steadily gain more abilities that keep things fresh and interesting. Unfortunately, it’s the frustration with the game’s controls that keep these good aspects from being as enjoyable as they ought to be. It seems that this game could have benefited from more time in QA.

Well that's hardly fair.

Well that's hardly fair.
Prince of Persia: The Fallen King retains a similar style to what was introduced in the console games. However, the look has gone for a kid-friendly adaptation with big head, hands and feet. While not as endearing as the console games, it certainly fits the DS. Thankfully, the environments look as good as they are put together and the Prince’s movements are very well animated. It’s a shame that the frame rate is so inconsistent and there is a need for an extra coat of polish, otherwise is would have been on par with Phantom Hourglass. There is not much to say about the sound, other than the more traditional Arabian Nights type themes seem to be here to stay, along with some passable sound effects but there are no recorded voices.

For a game that seemed to be put together rather hastily, Prince of Persia: The Fallen King had all the elements it need to be good, if not great. We can forgive the lacklustre story and presentation, as there have been far worse on the DS. We can’t forgive however, the fact that the input recognition is just not up to scratch. You’ll get through the game and you’ll be able to everything that you are supposed to do. Unfortunately, this will only be after you’ve been back to the checkpoint several times.
The Score
Prince of Persia: The Fallen King has some good ideas but ultimately is let down by being rushed out the door.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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5 years ago
Why is every DS game released now showcasing the developer's sloppy work? It seems like it is the platform of choice for half baked games.
Nintendo should set a standard for developers, to bring the quality of games up, or it wouldn't be profitable. I think it's the lack of graphical prowess that is limiting the DS from having a deeper storyline. It's kind of hard to get emotionally moved if all you see are polygons.
5 years ago
3mt wrote
I think it's the lack of graphical prowess that is limiting the DS from having a deeper storyline. It's kind of hard to get emotionally moved if all you see are polygons.
5 years ago
You are right about how this game is frustrating to play, honestly there is a point where my DS doesn't even know i want to jump so i just gave up.

They should've made, like the console version of PoP, it that you could never die and would just start back where you messed up. If anything this game needed it more, not for flow of game, but for gamer frustration.

I have got to say this DS game had the most potential out of a majority of recent titles, its just the inconsistency and dodgy frame rate that severely let it down.

Good Review
5 years ago
I feel sorry for serious gamers with a DS.
5 years ago
I feel sorry for you El Taco.

Your trolling means nothing when the DS still has the greatest selection of brilliant games for any handheld EVAR.
5 years ago
Barely even qualifies as trolling - if you're going to 'feel sorry' for owners of console X because a sub-par game(s) have been released on it, well you might as well feel sorry for every gamer out there and quit the scene while you're at it, because I got news for you buddy... they're everywhere, on all platforms.
5 years ago
This is strangely ironic since El Taco has previously, if not currently, owned a DS. Didn't yours break? Maybe someone's bitter icon_wink.gif

However I'm still not getting the argument from your post. What exactly has compelled you to make such a sweeping statement, in a review topic for a fairly insignificant, mediocre game? Yes, there are several metric tons of shovelware on the DS, but despite this it has a large library of very strong titles, certainly more than the PSP (at least IMO).

Including the vast range of must-play games from the GBA era, the DS has arguably the strongest lineup of any handheld ever.
5 years ago
after the Assassin's Creed DS game, i let this one sit on the shelves while reviews came out. sounds like i did the right thing...

what is it with Ubisoft making (or rather, commissioning) subpar handheld "versions" of excellent console games?
5 years ago
I'm sure they see it as tapping into a wealth of potential customers that may have heard about their console 'blockbuster' and so are tempted into buying the game for their DS - and for all I know that may well be the case, and be profitable for them.

For us? Just another on the pile of games not worth the time or money.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  4/12/2008 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $69.95 AU
  UBI Soft
Year Made:

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