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Gamer Tuesday

May 31, 2011

Gamer Tuesday Special: The Prince of Persia Series and Disney

On the last Gamer Tuesday, I asked the following...
"Recently, Disney released a live action film based on a very popular Ubisoft franchise. What was the name of the movie and the video game franchise?"

The answer to that is "The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time," and the video game franchise is, of course, Prince of Persia.

The movie was released on May 28, 2010, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and starred Jake Gyllenhaal as the titular prince, Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina.

The film was actually based on the Ubisoft game of the same name, but before all of that, let's look at how the franchise got started. Prince of Persia was created by Jordan Mechner, his first game in the series released for the Apple II computer in 1989. The story behind the game took place in Ancient Persia. While the king was away on war, his loyal vizzier Jaffar kidnaps the princess and locks her away in a tower, forcing her to marry him in order to become sultan. That's when the Prince comes in. Players must guide him through many traps and dangerous dungeons in order to save the princess in less than 60 minutes.

Any similarities between this game and Disney's Aladdin and merely coincidental, although it was clearly inspired by the Aladdin tale.

What was so neat about it was that it featured rotoscoped animation that made the character sprites move as realistically as possible. A strong emphasis was placed upon strategic platforming. This meant that players had to be careful with the platforms as it would mean certain doom. It was a slower but very fascinating take on platforming and combat games.

This game was very successful, which in turn became a cult classic. A sequel, The Prince of Persia: The Shadow and the Flame, was released soon after. But the series would remain relatively obscure until Ubisoft released The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time for all major gaming systems in the fall of 2003.

The story behind the game is that the Prince (no first game is ever mentioned) has obtained a special dagger that allows him to manipulate time. In terms of gameplay, what this means is that players could rewind the game to a time before they made a mistake, allowing them to avoid making the same mistakes and gain an advantage over their enemies.. At the time, the mix of high octane platforming with sword and dagger battles made The Sands of Time on of the best games of the year.

Such was the success of this game that two more games were released featuring similar mechanics: Warrior Within and The Two Thrones. Since then, Prince of Persia has become one of Ubisoft's most popular franchises, with the Prince appearing on several of their games.

Now, what about the Disney film version? The film followed the plot of the games very well, and it also included some elements of the sequels. It did, however, received some very mixed reviews, many criticizing its slow pace. Some claimed that this was Disney's attempt at starting a Pirates of the Caribbean-like film series, right down to hiring Jerry Bruckheimer as the film's producer. Many were also hopeful that if this movie was successful enough, other movies based on the Prince's other video game adventures would be released.

Admittedly, as far as video game to film adaptations go, this is one of the better ones. The art design, cinematography and locales looked beautiful, and the acting is solid overall. So if you are a Disney fan who went to see Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time last year and wondered what was so special about it, hope this article cleared any doubts.



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