Despite writing for a games website, those who don't personally know me may be surprised to learn I'm not the best at games. In fact, I'm not even really any good. I tend to run for the hills when there's anything more than a rather pedestrian difficulty, even approaching some games with the kind of trepidation usually reserved for a trip to the dentist because I've heard their supposed to be difficult. It's perhaps somewhat surprising, then, that I've actually been playing games for the best part of my life, starting my training on the old-school platformers on the Amiga (I'm just that hardcore) with one such platformer being the game I'm reviewing right now, Prince Of Persia.
Far from being a platformer in the same vein as, say, Mario, Prince of Persia has a much slower pace. It's more a 2D Tomb Raider, as you explore the palace, running and jumping from floor to floor, avoiding a fair few perils on your way - spike pits, guillotines and crumbly floors all try their best to hinder your progress. From the moment you find a sword next to a pile of bones in level 1, you'll also be ambushed by Jaffar's minions, who'll do their best to add to your troubles, as you try to rescue the princess in under sixty minutes of real time.
You can use either the +Control Pad or Circle Pad to make the nimble Prince run, while the B button can be used to make him walk a tad more carefully, for when you to make sure you've got pixel perfect positioning for one of the many tricky jumps. And with this being such an old school game, it's very much a case of making sure your prince is perfectly positioned before even attempting to jump. When the time comes, the A button jumps over the many pits, spikes and pressure pads you'll find on your journey, and can also be used to attack enemies with your sword.
With it being such an old game, there are more than a few nuances to it though, that can make it a bit more difficult than it really needs to be - especially if you're used to more modern platormers like New Super Mario Bros. One such oddity is how the jumping actually works in order to do a proper jump, rather than just pressing the button as and when you want to jump, you'll need to press the button a tiny bit in advance, so he has enough time to build up to the jump, and then actually jump, kind of like you had to do on the old-school Tomb Raider games, where you had to press jump a square before you needed her to leap. Another thing that may not be immediately apparent, is that you need to press up on the Circle Pad or +Control Pad to get him to jump up and grab a ledge above him (and down to descend and hang from the ledge to drop down safely). I also found that, when you run into Jaffar's minions, you need to wait until your bloke pulls out his sword before you hammer the A button to attack, otherwise you tend to leap right onto the waiting sword...
I've had something of a love/hate relationship with Prince Of Persia. For years, I was stuck on one jump not very far through the game, but this time around, I managed to get through it with much less trouble. The time limit can also be rather limiting, as it doesn't let you take the time out to actually explore the castle for yourself - even if there is reason to do so, like when you need to find the sword. It's also still very difficult, but it's slow paced enough that you feel like retrying it until you get it right - and you do feel awesome when you finally manage a bit you were stuck on.
Luckily, help is at hand against the difficulty this time round, in the form of how the 3DS Virtual Console lets you create restore points after every jump you make, so that you'll be able to reload should you inevitably manage to kill yourself on the next one making the time limit much less of a problem. Ideally, you should aim to finish each of the twelve or so levels in about five minutes each which isn't actually all that long, and doesn't leave much room for mistakes...
This time round, I was pleasantly surprised by Prince Of Persia having written it off many years ago as being too difficult, it does get substantially easier once you get your head round it's nuances although it's debatable I'd manage to finish it in the hour without lots of practice and learning where to go. It isn't a bad game by any means but it is quite hard, with it's strict hour time limit and strange way of jumping, so it's worth knowing what your letting yourself in for first, especially as it seems quite expensive, at £4.50 for sixty minutes.