Rather than attending another double-microprocessors lecture on a Friday afternoon, I would bunk off my lectures and play games on an early 386 PC that was owned by one of my housemates – this was when PC’s were not even used in the computer lab as they were deemed to be just for word processing and not serious programming machines. PC gaming was in its infancy, focused mainly on flight and other simulations, and 3rd person shooter games like Doom were still years away.
One of the exceptions of that time was Prince of Persia, a platform adventure game from Broderbund and programmer Jordan Mechner that was a landmark in computer graphics, due to its use of realistic character movement. Your hero, the Prince of the title, could run, jump, hang from ledges, climb and fight with incredible realism, as the sprites were based on video recording of real actors. Armed with a scimitar, he would stylishly fence with the various enemies encountered through the game, including skeletons, palace guards and eventually his nemesis Jaffar. A similar approach to animation could also be found in the later Sega Megadrive game Flashback, where your character had a huge range of abilities rendered in smooth flowing graphics.
Prince of Persia was a combination of free-running and pitfall type obstacles, with many traps along the way which required careful timing to avoid, including spiked pits and collapsing walkways. Your character had 3 lives which could fortunately be replenished by drinking potions littered around the various levels. The ultimate objective of battling the Evil Jaffar and rescue his princess.
Originally released on the Apple II, and later systems including Megadrive and SNES, as well as sequels for the XBOX. There was also a Hollywood film, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, where the Prince was transformed into a free-running hero played by Jake Gyllenhall.
For me however it is the original game that is the stand out in the series, and it was well worth missing all those lectures for.