E3 2008: Hands on with Prince of Persia: The Fallen King on DS
Far from abdication
Conjuring compelling action on DS is a tough proposition, with few games managing to unleashed a satisfying experience. Prince of Persia: The Fallen King could be the remedy spell, bridging the most recent incarnations of the Prince of Persia series with the classic side-scrolling gameplay of the original.
Here, you're guiding the Prince through 2D levels with the stylus activating all manner of acrobatic moves and magical abilities. Everything is stylus-driven, yet the gameplay is firmly rooted in the tradition of old-skool side-scrolling action and platforming.
As the Prince, you begin the game traversing the desert only to stumble upon a massive garden. There's a bit of a catch, however, as a dark corruption has infested the domain. A semi-corrupted magician who appears at the Prince's side offers help in navigating through the treacherous area. While his motivations are questionable, the aid on offer can't be denied. Together the two set off to conquer said corruption and restore the garden to normality.
Through the entire course of the game, the magician follows right behind the Prince with magical support. While his highness is capable of pulling off fanciful acrobatic moves, only the magician has the ability to execute spells vital in solving puzzles and defeating certain enemies. For example, corruption hot spots littering each level can only be used by the magician who summons a magical grappling hook. Using this, the Prince is able to scale up heights using those corruption hot spots to reach new areas or grab coins needed to unlock secret locations.
Of course, the Prince isn't helpless. He's more than able to make his way through the countless platform challenges thrown his way. Holding the stylus on the screen instructs him to move toward that point, whereas a quick double tap triggers a roll. Climbing platforms is done by holding the stylus on whatever you want the Prince to surmount.
The most interesting addition to his arsenal of acrobatics is a gauntlet that enables him to 'grip fall' down vertical surfaces. Simply put, whenever the Prince is falling parallel to a wall, he'll dig his hand into it to slow his descent. We tackled one puzzle that had the Prince grip fall to trigger a switch tied to a nearby door, then magically grappling with the magician through the opened passageway.
Progressing deeper into Prince of Persia: The Fallen King's ten levels that break down into smaller stages, you'll encounter increasing numbers of enemies. While the magician's spells do away with them quite easily, his partner can engage them in direct combat. Tapping an enemy issues a basic attack, whereas swiping instigates a slower, yet altogether more powerful hit. You can even block incoming blows by tapping the Prince.
All of the creative new platforming elements being packed into Prince of Persia: The Fallen King have us extremely excited for this exclusive DS adventure. Perhaps equally as pleasing are the vivid graphics that go for a more painterly style, which seems appropriate given the game's mystical tinge – in motion they are far more convincing than when displayed as stills. We'll be keeping a close eye on the game in anticipation of its Christmas release.