30 days of Xbox: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

It’s no Assassin’s Creed, that’s for sure.
My trek through the obscure (and in this case, in-no-way-at-all-obscure) Xbox library continues with Ubisoft’s classic 3D reimagining of Jordan Mechner’s platforming Arabian prince. Well, if you ignore Prince of Persia 3D, and by all means, you should.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is, of course, one of the “lucky 13” games you can actually play on an Xbox One presuming you’ve still got a disc handy.
Now, I could have gone down that route (and I’m somewhat fascinated to see if it would view what is still solidly marked as a “review disc” as legitimate code), but there’s one significant snag to that approach. The way that the Xbox One handles Xbox backwards compatibility is to verify the disc, and then download a complete copy of the game digitally. That takes time and data, and the disc ends up being nothing more than a “key” to verify that you’re still allowed to play the game when you want to.
Or, y’know, I could put it directly into the Xbox and play straight away. No prizes for guessing which approach I took.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a classic for a reason, but it’s been a good long while since I’ve ventured into its particular realm. It’s rather obviously the inspiration behind Ubisoft’s now long-running Assassin’s Creed titles in terms of its dizzying platform gameplay, but where the Creed games rest on the idea of genetic memory and high tech, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is instead a classic fairy tale told by the eponymous prince, with overtones and a haze that gives it a lovely fuzzy dreamlike quality.
Sure, it’s visually a little dated, but that same fuzzy visual approach means that it’s not immediately apparent. I’m all too quickly caught up in re-learning wall running, jumping and even the very simplistic combat, while being swept away with the charming narration. I mean, how many games have the narrator chide you when you die that this wasn’t how it actually happened?
The key gimmick here is one of time reversal, something that Microsoft swore blind could only be achieved through the power of the Xbox hard drive… which it then used on the instantly forgettable Blinx The Time Sweeper. A game so forgettable, I had to look up the full title of the thing, because even I had forgotten what it was!
How long did I play for: About an hour, but I could have easily have gone two or more if sleep wasn’t beckoning me. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time isn’t a tough game to get hold of thanks to its backwards compatible status and multi-platform approach, and while its sequels got muddied with regrettable attempts to be “grimy”, it’s still a love letter to great game design and aesthetics, even if just about everything it does is mired in simple clichés.

Fat Duck Tech Retro Xbox Game Rankings

  1. Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time
  2. Outrun 2
  3. Spy vs Spy

Genuinely a tough choice here, but I can play Outrun 2 for quick bursts, because, hey, it’s an arcade game. Prince Of Persia: Sands of Time is a game that I feel like I could play forever.
Next up: The street beckons…

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