Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
Time to come clean, Master System owners. I reckon there are thousands of you who wish you could plonk your ‘ikkle 8-bit buddy into a bag-load of compost in the hope it would rise rampantly outta the Fisons and transform into a great, nay, positively grandiose Mega Drive! (Go on, own up! You can’t deny it, I’ve been watching ya!)
To be honest, the humble old Master System’s rarely pushed to bursting point — am I right or am I right? (Errr... I’d say maybe you were right! — Ed.)
Mega Drive owners everywhere prance about, noses in the air, pooh-poohing the MS, its graphic and sonic capabilities. Well, the 8-bit posse ain’t gonna take this flak no more! There’s trouble in them thar hills! It’s time to make a stand! Time to fight back! Time to grab those MD owners by the pixels and show ‘em what’s what! It’s time for Prince Of Persia...
WOW! Worra game! It just goes to show the wee Master System’s more clever than it looks! Here we have top-notch graphics, barnstorming animation, atmospheric sound, addictive and challenging gameplay — all crammed into one nifty little package! You couldn’t ask for more! (Well, you could but you’d be damned greedy!!).
The scenario could’ve been plucked straight out of one of those warty old Sinbad movies they churn out on the gogglebox every other Christmas. Make sure your buckle’s ready for a rip-roarin’ swash, kiddo, ‘cos you’re the Persian Prince and the task in hand’s not one to be sniffed at!
Where there’s a good guy you can bet your last rupee there’s a nasty piece of work hanging around like a fart in a Mini Metro! In this case it’s his Royal Ugliness, the Grand Vizier, a sexually deviant dude who’s about to lay his paws on a beautiful, flaxen-haired princess.
Talk about being forward! He’s already lured her into his bedroom! But promises of passion soon disappear in a puff of smoke. It’s a quickie engagement he’s after. The princess has just 60 measly minutes to agree to marriage or Vizzy will take her — and her belongings — lock, stock and barbecue. I ask ya!
Guide our Princely chum through the 12 increasingly hazardous levels that make up the Vizier’s castle; out of the dungeons, through the palatial chambers and into the baddy’s boudoir to free the princess. Grab a kiss, a cuddle and anything else beneficial to increasing the world’s population! Remember, take longer than a hour and you’ll be a page boy rather than a prince! Don’t you just love weddings?!
The front end to Prince Of Persia’s great. There’s a nice, oriental title tune and a slick animated sequence showing Vizzy leering at the blue-blooded beauty. He casts one of his evil spells, an egg timer appears and before you can say, ‘Get your top quality flying carpets here, madam!’, he storms out of his bedroom in a well serious huff!
The options screen allows you to alter the duration of the quest. First-timers are advised to stick with 60 minutes. Hardened gamesplayers (masochists, in other words!) can try for 30 or a mere 15 minutes.
You receive three units of energy per life, though this too can be changed, to one or two units. Lives are infinite, though — it’s only the clock that’s against you. If your energy units are zapped, you return to the start of the level.
The first thing that grabs you is the stunning animation. Every frame from the PC version has been used. A considerable achievement indeed when you consider our hero alone has 248 individual frames to his name!
Watch as he walks, runs, shuffles, squats, jumps, leaps, scales huge brick walls and hangs onto ledges by his Elastoplasts! All animation was originally taken from video footage, digitised then made cartoon-like. It’s awesome!
I was worried the control method was gonna be tricky. Fortunately, it’s a dream! The main sprite’s really responsive. Press left or right and button to leap, button to shuffle, up and button [1 ] to cling for dear life to cold concrete!
As you might have guessed, the castle’s not all red carpets and candlesticks. Anything but! It’s choc-full to the battlements with booby traps and obstacles, placed willy-nilly by the Vizier himself.
Crumbling platforms and gaping chasms must be leapt over. Spikes have a habit of lunging out of the floor! Don’t be hasty — easy does it! A gentle shuffle through ‘em and you come out the other side unscathed. Watch out for guillotines, they show no mercy! Ever heard the sound steel makes when it slices through bare flesh? Cover yer ears!
En route to the honeymoon suite, you come across a whole host of bloodthirsty beggars, who’ll chop your head off as soon as look at you. They’re the Grand Vizier’s henchmen — and a nasty lot they are, too!
Once the sword’s recovered on Level 1, fighting’s cinchy! (Well, on the preliminary levels it is!) You have two moves during battle, the thrust (button ) and the parry ().
Each adversary has three, possibly tour energy units. Obviously, as you slash ‘n’ hack these diminish — just make sure your units aren’t disappearing at a faster rate than your opponent’s! Death could be just around the corner...
Yet again, animation is fabulous, and sound’s good, too. Listen to the clank ot metal and swish of swords. Highly atmospheric.
On later levels there are trillions of skeletons to oust. You can’t actually kill these fleshless fiends (that’s logical, they’re already dead, you great dummy! —Ed), but make no bones about pushing them off ledges — they deserve it!
Life force is always under threat, be it from a particularly lengthy sword tight or a fall from a dicey precipice. Fortunately, numerous potions are dotted here, there and everywhere.
Green and blue concoctions are beneficial, restoring all ailments and energy points in the blink of an eye. Others could do some serious damage, sapping your strength in one fell swoop!
When your energy units are no more, the egg timer appears, along with the time remaining to complete the task. It’s at this point the question looms: you’re on Level 3 with only two minutes left, are the sands of time gonna run dry before you reach the pouting princess?! If the answer’s in the negative, you can always quit and start again!
The path to the next level is NEVER clearly marked and that’s the joy of Prince Of Persia. It’s an amazingly addictive puzzle game, with arcade adventure and beat-’em-up elements thrown in. The maze-like passages, trapdoors and pressure pads that access other areas of the castle ensure no two games are ever the same.
Don’t worry it you’ve turned into a right regal impresario. The skilled among you are graced with a password at the end of each level. Thank heaven! It’s a great inclusion — no trudging through stages you’re sick to death of seeing.
You’re in for a testing time from Level 4 onward. More guards, more skeletons, more gaping holes and guillotines! If you make a mistake along the way, it’s only after you die you realise where you went wrong. Then you know you’re hooked, ‘cos you just have to play again to get that little bit further.
This 16-bit conversion could’ve been complete crap. Notice I said ‘could’ve’. Prince Of Persia has the makings of a classic. For a Master System title it’s a stunner! You soon forget you’re playing an MS, it’s that good!
I saw Prince Of Persia in its early stages and met the programmer Jim Tripp. Many a sleepless night and gallons of coffee later, the lad’s done Domark proud. He’s a perfectionist, without a doubt!
The backdrops and sprites are immensely detailed. Puzzles are in abundance, tricks and traps keep you well and truly on your toes. Don’t get too complacent, dilemma after dilemma could slap you in the face at any minute!
Prince Of Persia’s instantly playable and totally addictive. If, as a Master System owner, you feel a little outdone by all these great Mega Drive titles that crop up time and time again, buy Prince Of Persia! Your MS collection will never be the same again!
I’ll tell ya something, Mega Drive owners will buy MS Powerbase Converters just to play this! Trust me!
What can you say about this one — apart from it’s bloody brilliant! I remember this from the computer days and it’s made the conversion from 16-bit superbly. Animation’s a treat and the sound effect when you run the henchmen through is well rewarding. Controlling the Prince is simplicity itself, which is pretty damned essential considering the actions he’s gotta take to get through the palace! Prince Of Persia’s bound to be an absolute smash. MS owners have sure got something to boast about now!
The best MS game we’ve seen for ages!