The Great Prince of Persia Story – The World’s Most Famous Persian Aristocrat [RETRO]

RETRO – The Prince of Persia franchise has been conquering our screens for twenty years with its fun and exciting adventures. The „Persian Prince” is so famous that it is an integral part of gaming history…


Back in 1989 and although a lot of classics have already been created, the video game industry was still in its kid’s shoes. A young man called Jordan Mechner decided that he will record his brother running, and he digitized the movement that later become famous. Thus, the technology was born that not only was the foundation of Prince of Persia but revolutionized the video game industry.

Jealousy, and envy: ruiner of life

Although Jordan Mechner was always proud of his writing skills (Besides game development he wrote and directed movies), but the first Prince of Persia was simple – and great. There was a nameless young Prince the son of the Persian Sah is in love with a princess without a name. While the Sah is battling in foreign lands, Jaffar who is the Vizir of the Sah gets full control of the area. He is in love with the Princess, but as she does not love him, the Vizir has no chance for his love to be requited.

Out of jealousy, he locks the Prince and Princess and gives an ultimatum for the princess. Either marry him or she will die in an hour. Our hero the Prince escapes and evades traps and enemies to save the Princess finally. The game was released for Amiga, and later was ported to other machines also, the game was a hit and raised Mechner to fame. Four years later in 1993, we got a sequel called Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow & Flame that excels the first game in every aspect. It was the first developer for the PC, as back then there were not many action games for it, so the sequel was also a huge hit.

In the sequel, Jaffar uses magic to mimic his appearance and to look like the Prince. He claims that the real Prince is the impostor, and throws him into jail. Of course, the Prince escapes again and defeats Jaffar once and for all to reclaim his throne. Mechner’s great story and the PC graphics were able to make us forget that the gameplay remained relatively the same. Meanwhile, Tomb Raider was released, and its clones, so by 1999 when the third game was released Prince of Persia in 3D. Although the basic concept was great, the execution was horrendous and destroyed the game in the end.

The controls were bad, and the story (which was not written by Mechner, at this point he was only a consultant), was boring and lacked any significant twists. Also, the level design was poor regarding quality. All in all the third game failed both critically and commercially.

Sands of Time trilogy: new winds are scattering the sands of time

Everybody was expecting that the Prince would be forever locked away and forgotten. However, Ubisoft decided to try to revive the franchise with their Montreal studio. Sands of Time was a resurrection for the franchise: A brand-new hero in a brand new trilogy. Mechner was a consultant again, but the story (unlike with POP 3D) he wrote it. Because of this, we got a top quality story, which was one of 2003 biggest surprises. The great story and gameplay were complemented by the new mechanic of having the ability to slow or rewind time.

While we do play as a new Prince, it is interesting that some of the story elements remained: Here we have to battle against an evil Vizir, and save the Princess (who is called Farah here). However, everything else has been completely changed so that the player will not feel bored and think that this is a remake of the original game.

That is why they made the sequel Warrior Within much darker and mature – at times even full of horror. In the sequel, we do not fight for country or a princess, but for our very own life. According to the story by using the Sands of Time, the Prince has sealed his fate and created the Dahaka a monster that will not rest until the prince dies, and corrects the timeline.

The combat system was better designed, and the killing of monsters, enemies had way more blood and spectacle. The Prince does not meet Farah in this game but falls in love with Kaileena – Empress of Time (but only if the player gets that ending that is harder to achieve). While Sands of Time was universally praised, Warrior Within divided the fanbase – some considered this the best entry in the series and the most fun.

The heads at Ubisoft, however, wanted an ending to the trilogy that everyone liked, and that is why Two Thrones combined the first game’s magical feeling with the second game’s darker tone. It seemed that the Prince’s story would end with this trilogy in 2005….

Never say never!

The storyline was closed for a while, but then Ubisoft decided to release a new Prince of Persia (without any subtitle name). Ubisoft tried to update the game further by having not a Prince but a loud mouth adventurer in this new game.

The problem was with this game that you could not die, and it was easy. The enemies could be defeated if you figured out the tricks but then the enemies would die so quickly you could not even blink. Such a radical shift divided the remaining fanbase once again, and while the story, the atmosphere, and the graphics were great, but it did not reach the expected sales by Ubisoft. However this was not the primary cause of bringing back the previous Prince, it was due to the movie adaptation of the franchise.

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands does not take place after Two Thrones, but between Warrior Within and the last game. This 2010 game was the last Prince of Persia for Ubisoft’s as the license expired in 2013. The license returned to Mechner, and he wrote the Prince of Persia movie’s script, so he probably got a lot of money out of the film.

The Prince’s alter ego

It is interesting that in the Prince of Persia games the motif of fighting doppelgangers always returns. In the first title, the Shadow is created when he enters a magic mirror, and the enemy always appears to halt our progress. In the second game Shadow and the Flame, there is a Shadow again, but here the Prince can turn into one.

This motif appeared again Warrior Within where our hero meets the Sand Warrior, who turns out to be the Prince in a different timeline when he picked up the mask. The Sand Warrior’s health is steadily draining, but he can control time better.

Finally, the last Alterego is in Two Thrones where the Dark Prince is a much more acrobatic and skilled fighter, but his life force is also always draining, so he has to get magical sand to stay alive.

The Prince of Persia games’ success can also be seen in the Guinness Book of Records, as the series has been entered into the book six times


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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines - including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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