A great video review of what makes the new Prince of Persia game so unique

A former coworker tipped me off to this video, originally posted here. It’s a video review of the author’s choice for “game of the year,” and it’s not what you might think.

Well, OK. I know you’ve read the title of this post. So yes, it’s probably exactly what you might think. He makes a compelling case for what is so unique and revolutionary about this game.

As I mentioned in a recent post, I got Prince of Persia from my parents for Christmas and have been playing it for the past few days. I’ve gradually been coming to realize on my own what this reviewer is talking about.

At first I was kind of shocked (and a little disappointed) when I realized that you couldn’t die in the game. Too easy! I thought. But I have had many game experiences in the past like what he describes, where if you screw up you have to start over at the beginning of the level. Extremely frustrating. With Prince of Persia, I was initially somewhat put off by the discovery of this “no death” policy, but as I played on I realized that the developers built in the proper challenges and rewards in other ways.

When you’re battling a boss for instance, when you do something that would have caused you to die in another game, in the few moments while you’re being rescued by the princess who accompanies you on the adventure, the boss regains some of its energy. So, in other words, you do still get “punished” — it will now take longer to beat the boss — but you’re never thrown completely out of the experience and forced to repeat your steps again and again until you just happen to get it right.

That’s the thing that’s really revolutionary about this game: it allows you to keep on with the necessary trial and error until you learn what to do, not in a pathetically easy way, but in a non-frustrating way. You still have to figure out what to do, and develop skill with certain maneuvers, or you’ll never get past certain obstacles. But unlike with other games that force you to go back to well before the point where you’re currently stuck, and then repeat several minutes of things you’ve already done, you can just keep at it until you get it right. Imagine having to do that “repeat several minutes” thing 10 or 15 times when you’re up against a challenge you’re particularly struggling with, and you’ll see why I’ve left so many games unfinished. And I’m an “experienced gamer!” Sort of.

How did they make cardboard feel like leather? (And why?)

prince_of_persia08_le360boxart_160wChristmas is officially over, and this year my video game collection increased in size by one game: Prince of Persia (Limited Edition) for the XBOX 360. My initial assessment: great game, cool visual style, engaging gameplay, nice re-imagining of the series. I look forward to playing it more.

One thing I do not look forward to more of is touching the box. The Limited Edition version of the game comes packaged in a special outer box, which is designed to look like an antique leather-bound book. Artistically it is very well-done, but what is profoundly disturbing about it is the feel of it. There is some sort of coating on the cardboard that makes it feel eerily like real, well-worn leather. But not exactly. It mostly just feels like there’s some kind of weird fuzzy/sticky/highly unnatural (and probably toxic) film smeared all over the box. Yuck.

Luckily, inside the box is a regular plastic game case (featuring the standard cover art), which is what I’ll be keeping on the shelf. And I’ll store the cardboard box away in a secure location where it cannot contaminate my life further.