Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Prince of Persia

Go To
Who needs Jerry Bruckheimer?

It is a time of darkness. While the Sultan is off fighting a foreign war, his Grand Vizier Jaffar has seized the reins of power. Throughout the land, the people groan under the yoke of tyranny, and dream of better days.
You are the only obstacle between Jaffar and the throne. An adventurer from a foreign land, innocent of palace intrigues, you have won the heart of the Sultan's lovely daughter. And in so doing, you have unwittingly made a powerful enemy.
On Jaffar's orders, you are arrested, stripped of your sword and possessions, and thrown into the Sultan's dungeons. As for the Princess, Jaffar gives her a choice, and an hour to decide: Marry him—or die.
Locked in her room high in the palace tower, the Princess rests all her hopes on you. For when the last sands drain from the hourglass, her choice can bring only a throne for the Grand Vizier...a new reign of terror for his long-suffering subjects...and death for the brave youth who might have been...
Prince of Persia.
— The game's story as laid out in the manual.

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 to rescue the princess, all the 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 is an incredibly skilled swordfighter and the hardest opponent you'll face until you face Jaffar himself.
  • A.I. Breaker: In the SNES version, sword-fighting is a simple minigame where you block, attack, block, attack, block, attack until either you or your opponent messes the timing up. Easier enemies mess up sooner than harder ones. However, the game assumes that you are going to attack as soon as you block, and then block again (if you don't block as soon as you attack, you get hit). BUT, if you wait a split second after blocking and then attack, you will hit the enemy every single time. This works on the very first guard, the captain, Jaffar, and every other swordfighting enemy in-between. Could also be used as a speedrunning tactic, as blocking, waiting a second and hitting them is much faster than clanging swords with them for 15-20 seconds per hit. This same trick works on the original as well. In fact, this is required to actually beat Jaffar in this version, because when he starts swordfighting, he never messes up the counterattack chain. You HAVE to delay your strike back by the right amount of time, or you will NEVER hit him.
  • 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 sequestered in her bedroom.
  • Beard of Evil: Jaffar, the evil vizier, has a beard as shown in console ports with stronger graphics, as well as the intro of the second game.
  • 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 Arena Idiocy:
    • The Skeleton boss from level 3, who can only be defeated by pushing it off of a ledge... guess where it fights the Prince? Taken Up to Eleven in the SNES version, where it makes that same mistake twice, and then lets the Prince lead it under a collapsing roof trap to finish it off for good measure.
    • Jaffar makes the same mistake as the Skeleton boss, but only in the original version of the game. In the SNES, he fights in a different arena and cannot be one-shotted in that manner.
  • 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.
  • Counter-Attack:
    • One way to fight is to wait for the opponent to attack, then defend and counter the attack.
    • The first guard encountered in Level 8 actually utilizes this tactic himself; he will patiently wait for you to make your move and attacks only when you try to approach him.
  • 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. The SNES version also features a number of skeletons as enemies in several levels.
  • Direct Continuous Levels: Level 6 ends with you falling down a pit, and Level 7 starts with you falling and grabbing a ledge.
  • Disney Villain Death: Guards can be instantly killed by being knocked back at the platform's end, provided that the fall is high enough or situates over a spiked pit. Even Jaffar can be killed this way, except in the Sega CD and SNES versions.
  • Edge Gravity: When you choose to walk instead of running, the Prince will stop himself from stepping off an edge.
  • Enemy Without: When the Prince must bypass a magic mirror by jumping through it, a Living Shadow version of himself emerges from the other side of it and proceeds to cause mischief for the rest of the game. It can be defeated only by putting away your weapon and merging with it.
  • Evil Chancellor: Jaffar, who tries to force the princess to marry him under threat of death.
  • Falling Damage: Falling two levels will subtract one from your Life Meter, and falling three levels will outright kill you.
  • Fat Bastard: Level six has one enemy who is this. He becomes a proper bossfight in the SNES version, with the manual calling him Politician.
  • Final Death Mode: Survival Mode in the remake.
  • Giant Mook: The fat guard from Level 6. He's noticeably thicker and a somewhat better fighter than most of the other guards. He has five hit points, something the other guards don't have until Level 9, but the guards of Levels 10 and 11 have six hit points. Averted in the SNES version where he's a proper boss.
  • 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. Of course, this can also happen to enemies that get pushed into one, so the things play fair.
  • Heart Container: You can find in most levels a potion that restores you to full health and gives you one additional hit point. They are distinct from regular healing potions only by being taller.
  • 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 matches the character's clothes and life points. But if it happens to the Prince, 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! Albeit only in the original version of the game.
  • 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.
  • Inertial Impalement: You can either run, jump or fall onto spiked traps, or you can force your enemies to step or fall onto them. Death will be instant for you all. This is one of the easiest ways to kill the Boss in Mook Clothing in Level 8.
  • Interface Screw: One of the large potions in the ninth level (it has green vapor on the PC version) inverts the screen. You have to find a second one to correct it again.
  • Invincible Minor Minion: The walking skeleton from Level 3 can't be hurt with stabs. It can only be pushed off the edge.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: The Game Over screen in at least one version of the game (most notably the Sega Genesis port) describes what happens when you run out of time, complete with depressing music:
    Final hope destroyed, the Princess has no choice but to submit to the Vizier. Jaffar takes the crown, and Persia is plunged into an age of tyranny and fear.
  • 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).
  • Knockback: Any hits on the player and the enemies result in some them being knocked back. This makes it easier to defeat enemies by pushing them over ledge.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: In the Super Nintendo version, the guards are given different colored outfits that roughly correspond to how much health they have. Green guards have the least, blue guards have middling health, and purple guards have the most.
  • 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.
  • Level Goal: The goal of each level is finding the exit gate and opening it with the right Pressure Plate. The sound of an opening gate will let you know you've stepped on the right plate.
  • Literal Cliffhanger: Required many times if you don't want to die from the huge drop below. There's a button that allows you to manually hold on to ledges, and some platform jumps are even calculated or distanced with this mechanic in mind.
  • 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 Knight: In addition to being capable of casting a spell that will kill the Princess within the hour, Jaffar, as the game's Big Bad and Final Boss, is an extremely capable swordsman.
  • 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.
  • Meaningless Lives: Whenever you die, you just restart the current level. The problem is that the timer does not reset.
  • Mirror Match: You have to face a literal mirror copy of yourself, released from a magic mirror you had leaped through earlier. He shares your health bar and mirrors every attack identically. The only way to defeat him is to sheathe your sword.
  • Mirror Monster: Shadow Man is created when the Prince jumps through Jaffar's magic mirror.
  • Mirror Self: Depending on the version, Shadow Man is a spectral or darker version of the protagonist.
  • 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 for a combat example. For a platforming example, on the way back from getting the sword in Level 1, you must climb up onto the pressure plate, walk to the edge and then do a standing jump across, instead of a running jump like in most other cases.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: if the time runs out in the original version, the final cutscene is of the empty room where Princess was imprisoned. Did she die? Was she forced to marry Jaffar? It's never revealed.
  • 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 poison potions just emit blue bubbles instead of red ones. The SNES version also has two large potions placed together, one of which will kill you instantly instead of increasing your life.
  • Protagonist Title: In a unique twist on this trope, the protagonist isn't actually the prince yet, but a foreign traveller who's arrived in Persia. He only becomes the prince once the game's beaten, when he marries the princess. Otherwise in most manual synopses, he's simply referred to as "traveller" or "youth."
  • 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.
  • Ring-Out Boss: The skeleton from Level 3 cannot be defeated in any other way than pushing it into a pit. Jaffar himself can be defeated by pushing him over ledge.
  • Rotoscoping: Used to achieve the smooth animation in the game.
  • Red Is Violent: The Super Famicom boxart has the forces of Jaffar depicted as such, while the Prince, Princess and mouse are all show as white.
  • 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), and dying subtracts a minute from the timer.
  • Title Drop: At the end, regarding the protagonist.
    No longer a stranger, he shall from this day forth be known as... PRINCE OF PERSIA.
  • 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.
  • Unique Enemy: The Giant Mook from Level 6 and Boss in Mook Clothing from Level 8.
  • The Usurper: The sultan's vizier has taken over the palace in his absence and transformed it into a Death Course with Everything Trying to Kill You.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Sheathing your sword is a move that will certainly end up with the Prince being one-hit killed by the guard in front of him, but it is also the only way to get past the Shadow.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: The Princess has blue hair in the SNES port, despite taking place in Ancient Persia.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: