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Video Game / Prince of Persia

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Who needs Jerry Bruckheimer?
The first Prince of Persia game follows the story of an evil vizier who, in the absence of the sultan, threatens to kill the princess within an hour unless she agrees to marry him. The princess's one true love, the eponymous Prince, has been thrown into the dungeons, and must run, jump, climb and fight his way through a series of passageways filled with traps, guards and other surprises, while the minutes tick by at the bottom of the screen.

Originally created by Jordan Mechner for the Apple IIe and released by Brøderbund Software in 1989, it was ported to more systems than any Prince of Persia game since. Versions of the game were released for just about anything that was Turing-complete, including the Atari ST, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Sam Coupé, IBM Personal Computer, PC-98, Sharp X68000, FM Towns, Apple Macintosh, Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Master System, Sega Genesis, Sega CD, TurboGrafx-CD, Game Boy, Game Gear and Game Boy Color. This is not counting the unofficial ports to the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64, the Video Game Remake Prince of Persia Classic, or the numerous appearances of the game as an Embedded Precursor in later Prince of Persia games.


Tropes appearing in this game:

  • Acrofatic: The fat guard in the sixth level (possibly the Captain of the Guard) is an incredibly skilled swordfighter and the hardest opponent you'll face until you face Jaffar himself.
  • Barefoot Captives:
    • The Prince is barefoot in some versions, which is presumably part of his being thrown in the dungeon, stripped of all his belongings. Averted in some other versions (like the original Apple II version), where he has white shoes. Notably, the DOS version varies depending on graphics driver; the VGA graphics have him barefoot, but the EGA, CGA and Hercules graphics all give him white shoes. His feet actually use a different VGA palette index from the rest of his skin, implying they'd intended to give his VGA variant shoes as well at one point, but opted not to.
    • The Princess is also barefoot in some versions; she's sequestrated in her bedroom.
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  • Beard of Evil: Jaffar, the evil vizier, has a beard.
  • Big Damn Heroes: From a mouse, actually.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: The first enemy you meet on level 8 looks like a regular guard, but is incredibly smart and doesn't get too close to you, instead taking a defensive stance and only attacking when you try to close the distance yourself. It's actually easier to shove him into the spike pit instead of defeating him conventionally. Also an example of Noob Bridge, since this is the first time you are forced to learn to use the "parry" button.
  • Boss-Only Level: Level 20 in the SNES version poses no challenges other than the Final Boss.
  • Boss Rush: At the end of Level 19 in the SNES version.
  • Call-Back: In Level 5, there's a large potion in a room. However, when you are about to reach it, the Shadow appears and drinks it. When you face the Shadow in Level 12, he has 4 health points - the initial 3 the Prince started with, plus 1 from the large potion he took.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The princess's pet mouse, seen with her before the start of level 8. It later pushes the trigger needed to open a gate for you that you get trapped behind. And when you're reunited with the Princess, it appears and watches over the happy reunion.
  • Cinematic Platform Game: The Trope Maker for the genre. Most 2D entries in the genre were inspired by this game in some way.
  • Damsel in Distress: The princess is in danger and must be saved by the prince.
  • Dark Action Girl: In the SNES version, one of the bosses is an amazon.
  • Death's Hourglass: In the intro scene, Jaffar approaches the Princess, raises his arms, and suddenly an hourglass appears. "Marry Jaffar... or die within the hour."
  • Dem Bones: The animated skeleton on level 3.
  • Evil Chancellor: Jaffar, who tries to force the princess to marry him under threat of death.
  • Fat Bastard: Level six has one enemy who is this.
  • Final Death Mode: Survival Mode in the remake.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: The saw-toothed traps will slice the Prince in half if he's not careful, resulting in his death.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The clanging of the saw-toothed traps. To say nothing of the sound they make when someone get chopped in two by them. Yeowch.
  • Hit Flash: Whenever an enemy is hit by a sword or falls on the ground, a colored flash is shown. The color match the character's clothes and life points. If it happens to you, the whole screen will briefly flash red.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: A lot of later combat encounters involve you crossing a hazard (such as chompers or a deadly drop) to confront a guard, putting you in the position where you have to fight with your back to the hazard, threatening death if you are forced back by parrying too much. It's quite easy to slip past the guard and swap places with them then force them back into the hazard for an instant kill. You can even do this to Jaffar!
  • Hollywood Torches: Torches provide illumination for the entire room and never burn out.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The spike traps will pierce the Prince if he's not careful.
    • A careful and fast enough player can use the spike traps to their advantage and push mooks into them.
  • Interface Screw: One of the large potions in the ninth level (it has green vapour on the PC version) inverts the screen. You have to find a second one to correct it again.
  • Jump Physics: Pretty much averted in that jumping is portrayed very realistically, a rarity for the time, putting your agility on par with a traceur. A running start will allow you to clear a lot more distance than a standing jump (and even then you still have to hold Shift to grab the opposite ledge sometimes), and you only get enough height to climb a single storey or touch the ceiling directly above you (and dislodge the tile if it's loose).
  • Leap of Faith: The game required quite a few, most notably early in level 3 and at the end of level 7 (where you have to guess that the strange-coloured potion you just found would cause you to float down what would otherwise be a fatal drop, rather than just being a poison potion). Not to mention the infamous part in level 12 where you have to run out over an empty abyss, revealing invisible tiles that appear under your feet.
  • Literal Cliffhanger: Required many times if you don't want to die from the huge drop below.
  • Locked in the Dungeon: You are locked in the palace's dungeon in the beginning, and from there your quest to rescue the princess begins.
  • Magic Mirror: Level 4 has one that can't be broken with a sword and blocks one of the paths that the Prince must go through. The correct solution is to have the Prince take some steps behind, then run back towards the mirror and ultimately leap into it. Bad thing, doing so will release his Shadow, whom he must fight later.
  • Malevolent Architecture: Loose floor tiles, spike traps and chomper traps, not only in the dungeon but also in the palace proper. Players can use them to their benefit, however, by tricking the mooks into falling in said traps. It's required to defeat the Skeleton.
  • Nice Mice: The Princess's mouse rescues the Prince in one level by opening a gate he gets trapped behind.
  • No Name Given: The Prince and the Princess's names were never revealed.
  • Noob Bridge: See the Boss in Mook Clothing example.
  • Pendulum of Death: One of the new traps in the SNES version.
  • Poison Mushroom: The healing potions that restore one unit of your Life Meter look nearly identical to the poison potions that take off one unit instead. The SNES version also has two large potions placed together, one of which will kill you instantly instead of increasing your life.
  • Puzzle Boss:
    • The skeleton on level 3 is immortal — hitting it with a sword only pushes it away. You need to push it off the edge. Twice. And it becomes active only after you open the door to the next level. Additionally, in the SNES version, you have to push it into a crushing trap to finish it off.
    • The Shadow. First you meet an impassable Magic Mirror after opening the door to level 5. Jumping through it breaks it, releases the Shadow and leaves you with one unit of health. When you meet him next time, he pushes a switch to prevent you from proceeding anywhere but downwards. When you get to fight him, hitting him hurts you too. You need to Sheathe Your Sword and merge with him.
  • Rotoscoping: Used to achieve the smooth animation in the game.
  • Sequence Breaking: It is possible with a well-timed jump to bypass the guard on the first level without ever picking up the sword (a trick exploited by speedrunners). Thankfully the game assumes you picked it up and it is available to use from the second level onwards.
  • Sheathe Your Sword: Sheathing your sword is the only way to defeat your shadow.
  • Timed Mission: You have unlimited continues, but you have only an hour to save the princess. Two in the SNES version.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: If you're playing the game for the first time blind without a walkthrough in hand, you will NOT be able to beat it, guaranteed. Despite unlimited continues, the 60 minute time limit ensured that there was no way you could navigate the mind-bending labyrinth in time to reach Jaffar before the Princess was executed. Finding your way to each level exit (and finding the switch to open the exit door so you can proceed) was a very time-consuming task, even if you could avoid falling prey to the various deadly traps and opponents in your path, not helped by the occasional requirement to make a Leap of Faith (most infamously near the start of level 3 where you need to make a blind jump off the screen to the right to find a pivotal switch). The idea was that you would explore as far as you could in your hour, then after you ran out of time you'd start again, this time going through everything you'd already worked out faster to explore new ground, until you got to Jaffar, eventually forcing you to effectively complete a mandatory Speedrun to beat the game.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: The Princess has blue hair in the SNES port, despite taking place in Ancient Persia.


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