DOS Days

Prince of Persia

Released: 1990
Published by: Brøderbund Software, Inc.
Developed by: Jordan Mechner
Author(s): Jordan Mechner, Lance Groody, Avril Harrison, Leila Joslyn, James St. Louis, Francis Mechner, Tom Rettig

VGA 256-colour graphics
EGA 16-colour graphics

CGA 4-colour graphics


Prince of Persia was Jordan Mechner's second game after the critically-acclaimed Karateka, released in 1986.

Level 1: (Left) VGA graphics and Sound Blaster music + sfx, (Right) VGA with MT-32 music + SB sfx

Following a similar game style, Prince of Persia is a 2D platform game that has you as a young prisoner in the role of rescuing the princess from the evil Jaffar, Grand Vizier to the Sultan of Persia, who wants the throne for himself and so must marry the Sultan's daughter. As you make your way from the deep dungeons of the palace, you will fight the guards, avoid the traps that have been set and keeping your health up by drinking potions [though some of them will harm you]. There are 12 levels to conquer before meeting Jaffar and fighting him.

The game uses rotoscoping techniques for the characters which give the game very realistic-looking animation - this was ground-breaking at the time of the game's release. Prince of Persia requires you to locate the exit on each level to progress higher out of the dungeons. As you do, the guards become more adept at sword-fighting, so your skill with the blade will be important. You have a time limit to reach the princess before she is executed by Jaffar, so don't hang around!

Most of the game you are running or carefully stepping forward, and jumping across cravasses, but when a guard is on the screen you enter a combat mode where there are several attacking moves and a blocking move aside from being able to walk backwards out of reach of the guard's lunges. Between levels there are often small cutscenes that show the princess next to an hourglass to show time is running out, knitting the storyline together and reminding you of your purpose.

Andy's Recommended Setup
"Prince of Persia is not heavy on your PC. It's equally happy to run on an 8088 Turbo XT or a Pentium. I recommend a 386 CPU as this is period-correct, with 1 MB of memory. Any VGA graphics card is good - the game will run in a resolution of 320x200 in 256 colours, and the VGA graphics mode is the one to choose. I highly recommend you play version 1.3, despite a later version being available. Version 1.3 has the most graphics and audio options, and is the least buggy of all the releases.

Sounds-wise, choose "Sound Blaster / Sound Blaster Pro" for music and sound effects - the MT-32 music is not in keeping with the game (see videos above for a comparison).


Having originally been published by Domark in the UK in 1990, the game was re-released under budget label The Hit Squad in 1993, and in this version (a modified v1.1) the potion room is bypassed (so there's no copy protection) and it came with a shorter 6-page manual.

The game was also part of Prince of Persia CD Collection which comprised the original game and Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow & The Flame.

There is also a great forum at (still active in January 2023) that has a load of useful hints and tips on the game - well worth a visit!

System Requirements

System Requirements Intel 8088/8086 CPU, 512 KB of RAM (640 KB for MCGA/VGA version)
Graphics support for Hercules*, CGA*, Tandy/PCjr*, EGA* and MCGA/VGA (320 x 200 max. resolution in 256 colours)
Audio support for Tandy/PCjr, Tandy DAC, PC speaker, Disney Sound Source**, PS/1 Audio Card, Ad Lib, CMS/Game Blaster, Pro Audio Spectrum**, Sound Blaster, and Roland MT-32/LAPC-I**.
Keyboard and joystick supported.
Original Media Two 5.25" 360 KB (DS/DD) floppy disks, or one 3.5" 720 KB (DS/DD) floppy disk. Some versions came with dual formats in the box.
Installed Size (MB) 577 KB
* Versions 1.3 and earlier only
** From version 1.3
onwards - PAS and MT-32 can be used for both music + sfx, Disney only for sfx

From where can it be run?

Prince of Persia can be run directly from the floppy disk(s), or installed to your hard disk.


Copy Protection

Prince of Persia has manual copy protection. During Level 2 of the game, you will be taken to a potion room (actually two rooms) and asked to drink the potion that matches the first letter of a specific word on a specific line on a given page in the manual. Go to the Supporting Documents section for the copy protection lookup, or the actual game manual, though note that different nationality releases will have localised manuals, so the Copy Protection PDF is better.

If you drink the wrong potion, you lose a bar of energy, so if you have the full 3 bars you have 3 chances to get it right - get it wrong a third time and you die - the game returns you to the title page.
If you drink the right potion, no ill effects occur and the door to the level opens, allowing you to proceed.

If you load from the save game file, you will be taken to the potion room before you can continue.

On Version 1.0, as soon as you enter the potion room you can press Shift-L to bypass the copy protection and continue on to Level 2. This does not work in subsequent versions.

How to Setup

To install Prince of Persia to your hard disk, run INSTALL.EXE from the first floppy disk:

1) You are asked for the source drive letter and the destination drive and directory to install to. The installer expects files to be in the root directory of the source drive you select, so if you are installing the game files from a subdirectory already on your hard disk, use the DOS SUBST utility to mimic drive A: from a subdirectory, e.g. SUBST A: C:\POP_FLOPPIES

If the game disk is not in the source drive you chose, you will be prompted to insert the disk:

Installation complete:

If you hit <ESC> during the installation process, you will be prompted like this:

To configure the game for your graphics and sound card, run SETUP.EXE either from the first floppy disk, or after installation to your hard disk:

1) Main menu:

2) Video mode options:

3) Input device options:

4) Sound Effects options:

5) Music device options:

6) Exit to DOS:

Both CONFIG.DAT and SETUP.DAT are updated when you save your configuration. Neither file is text-readable/editable.

The following command-line parameters can be used to start the game in a certain mode (or override what's in CONFIG.DAT and SETUP.DAT):

Audio options
prince adlib - Starts the game with Ad Lib audio (version 1.0 to 1.3 only)
prince compuadd - Starts the game with CompuAdd Multimedia card audio (version 1.3 only)
prince covox - Starts the game with Covox Sound Master audio (version 1.0 only)
prince digi - Starts the game with DigiDesign sound card audio (version 1.3 and up)
prince disney - Starts the game with Disney Sound Source audio (version 1.3 only)
prince gblast - Starts the game with Creative Game Blaster audio (version 1.0 to 1.3 only)
prince ibmg - Starts the game with IBM Music Feature Card audio (version 1.0 to 1.3 only)
prince midi - Starts the game with MIDI audio device [Roland MT-32/CM-32L/LAPC-I] audio (version 1.3 only)
prince mvpas - Starts the game with Media Vision ProAudio Spectrum audio (version 1.3 only)
prince sblast - Starts the game with Creative Sound Blaster audio (version 1.0 to 1.3 only)
prince stdsnd - Starts the game with PC speaker audio (version 1.0 to 1.3 only)
prince tandy - Starts the game with Tandy 3-voice audio (version 1.0 to 1.3 only)

Video options
prince cga - Starts the game in CGA mode (version 1.0 to 1.3 only)
prince draw - Starts the game and draws directly to the screen (don't buffer output)
prince ega - Starts the game in EGA mode (version 1.0 to 1.3 only)
prince vga - Starts the game in VGA mode (version 1.0 to 1.3 only)
prince herc - Starts the game in Hercules monochrome mode (version 1.0 to 1.3 only)
prince hga - Starts the game in Hercules monochrome mode (version 1.0 to 1.3 only)
prince mcga - Starts the game in MCGA mode (version 1.0 to 1.3 only)
prince tga - Starts the game in Tandy mode (version 1.0 to 1.3 only)

Memory options (version 1.3 and up)
prince bypass - Don't quit if there isn't enough memory
prince pack - Store bitmaps compressed in memory
prince unpack - Store bitmaps uncompressed in memory

Other options
prince demo - Allow the user to play the first 2 levels (version 1.3 and up)
prince j - Enable joystick mode

You can combine these, e.g. "prince ega covox", or "prince stdsnd vga" - the order of parameters does not matter.



Symptom: ?
Cause: ?
Resolution: ?


Keyboard Controls

Use the directional arrow keys to move the player, and Shift as the Fire button.
When Shift is held down, the player will take a careful step left or right, or hang from the ledge.
Without Shift being held down, up or down will climb up/down when near a ledge.
To pick up an item you are on top off, press Down.
To take out your sword or put it away, press Shift.

Joystick Controls

Directional controls to run left, right and jump (Up) - you can jump further if you are running at the time.
Press Down to duck. To hang from a ledge, press and hold the fire button and then press Down.

Fire button(s) - Press and hold along with left or right to take careful steps. A single-press while over an item picks it up.

When fighting, press the joystick button to strike. To block, push the joystick up at the right time. To stop fighting, press Down to put your sword away. To draw your sword again, press a joystick button.

In-Game Keys

Ctrl-J : Recalibrate joystick - the game auto-calibrates your joystick when the game starts, but if it's 'off' this can be used to recalibrate.
Shift-L : Advance to the next level (levels 2-4 only). This activates 'Practice' mode where the game time is reduced to 15 minutes, not enough time to finish the game.
Ctrl-A : Restart the level.
Ctrl-R : Restart the game.
Ctrl-K : Select keyboard mode.
Ctrl-J : Select joystick mode (if joystick detected).
Ctrl-S : Sound on/off.
Ctrl-Q : Quick the game (returns you to DOS)
Ctrl-V : Display game version.
ESC : Pause game. Press any key apart from ESC to continue.
SPACE : Show how much time is left.


To activate the cheat shortcuts, run the game with PRINCE MEGAHIT on versions 1.0 to 1.2. For version 1.3 and beyond, use PRINCE IMPROVED. You can even choose the level to start on by running with PRINCE IMPROVED <level number> (from 1 to 14).

When the game has started you can also use the following shortcuts:
Ctrl-T : Add a bar of energy
Shift-W : 'Featherweight' mode - fall really slowly (press once to activate for about 30 seconds)
Shift-I : Invert the screen
Shift-B : 'Blind' mode / Blank out non-animated objects
Shift-S : Drink small potion (up to max. 3 bars)
C : View coordinates
Shift-C: View more coordinates
R : Revive
U : View screen above you (if available)
H : View screen to the left (if available)
J : View screen to the right (if available)
N : View screen below you (if available)
K : Kill enemies on the player's current screen (does not kill on other screens, despite showing the kill animation)
+ : Increase time
- : Decrease time

To Quit the Game

Press Ctrl-Q at any time to return to the DOS prompt.


Supporting Documents


Additional Files, Drivers and Utilities

  • POPTrain - save game editor for DOS. Allows you to set the number of remaining minutes, starting level, and no. of health bars in your PRINCE.SAV file.
  • apoplexy - a Windows-based level editor for Prince of Persia 1 and 2 for DOS.
  • RoomShaker 1.80 - a Windows-based level editor for Prince of Persia 1. By Brendon James.
  • POPMap - a Hungarian DOS-based editor for PoP 1. By rainman (Csaba Tóth).
  • PrincEd v.25 FINAL - a DOS-based level editor for Prince of Persia 1. By Enrique P. Calot.
  • Princedit 2 - a DOS-based level editor for Prince of Persia 1, by Alexandr Larionov.
  • allows you to create and download a customised PRINCE.EXE file for you with a ton of modifiable game parameters.

Save Games

From levels 3 and beyond, you can save your progress by pressing Ctrl-G - "GAME SAVED" will appear at the bottom of the screen.

To reload from the save game file, when on the title screen press Ctrl-L. The game will resume from the start of the level you were on when you last saved it.

The file that stores your saved progress is called PRINCE.SAV in the game's installation directory (or on the floppy disk).


Versions of the game known to exist

Version Date Comments
Demo (Unknown) Playable demo, containing the first 2 levels, and textual reviews at the end.
1.0 March 1990 Initial public release.
1.1 April 1990 Unknown changes in-game, but INSTALL.EXE and PRINCE.EXE have different file sizes over v1.0.
1.3 April 1992 Setup utility added, allowing you to select your video, audio, and input device options.
Added audio support for Disney Sound Source, Pro Audio Spectrum, and Roland MT-32/LAPC-I.
Cutscenes can now be skipped by pressing ESC.
This is the only version with proper MT-32 sound effects samples. All other versions play MIDI sound effects via OPL on AdLib and MT32.
Game Blaster option is actually removed from the SETUP.CFG file but support does exist in the game code. To fix it, Search PRINCE.EXE for: 2B DB 8E C3 E8 E7 FF and replace: 8E C3 -> 90 90, though the audio will be messed up compared to how it's supposed to sound (try v1.0 to compare)
1.4 Late 1992 Removed all video modes apart from MCGA/VGA 256-colour mode.
MIDI samples are played back via OPL.
Known to be more buggy than v1.3 - joysticks trigger an annoying debug screen which fills with debug messages showing the JoyX and JoyY coordinates. These can be avoided by running prince > nul to redirect debug output to NUL.

Original Floppy Disk Contents

The floppy disks have a specific volume label depending on the game version. Version 1.0 has the label of "PRINCE". Version 1.1 has the label "P O'PERSIA". Version 1.3 has the label "Prince 1.3". On 5.25" floppy disk versions, both disks have the same volume label. Here are each disk's contents:

    Version 1.3, Disk 1 of 2 (5.25" 360 KB DS/DD):

    Directory of A:\
    CONEDIT  COM             10,996 02-04-1992  0:00
    CONFIG DAT 28 02-04-1992 0:00
    DESKTOPD CFG 55 02-04-1992 0:00
    DIGISND1 DAT 50,101 02-04-1992 0:00
    DIGISND3 DAT 31,008 02-04-1992 0:00
    IBM_SND1 DAT 3,684 02-04-1992 0:00
    INSTALL EXE 11,321 02-04-1992 0:00
    INSTALL PDM 4,233 02-04-1992 0:00
    MIDISND1 DAT 7,096 02-04-1992 0:00
    MT32SND1 DAT 3,833 02-04-1992 0:00
    PRINCE DAT 25,600 02-04-1992 0:00
    PRINCE EXE 125,115 02-04-1992 0:00
    SETUP CFG 225 02-04-1992 0:00
    SETUP DAT 28 02-04-1992 0:00
    SETUP EXE 35,983 02-04-1992 0:00
    15 File(s) 309,306 Bytes.


    Version 1.3, Disk 2 of 2 (5.25" 360 KB DS/DD):

    Directory of A:\
    CDUNGEON DAT              9,407 02-04-1992  0:00
    CPALACE DAT 12,889 02-04-1992 0:00
    DIGISND2 DAT 32,426 02-04-1992 0:00
    EDUNGEON DAT 10,165 02-04-1992 0:00
    EPALACE DAT 13,876 02-04-1992 0:00
    FAT DAT 6,521 02-04-1992 0:00
    GUARD DAT 6,950 02-04-1992 0:00
    GUARD1 DAT 117 02-04-1992 0:00
    GUARD2 DAT 117 02-04-1992 0:00
    IBM_SND2 DAT 3,784 02-04-1992 0:00
    KID DAT 37,149 02-04-1992 0:00
    LEVELS DAT 37,031 02-04-1992 0:00
    MIDISND2 DAT 18,958 02-04-1992 0:00
    MT32SND2 DAT 1,129 02-04-1992 0:00
    PV DAT 25,829 02-04-1992 0:00
    SHADOW DAT 4,715 02-04-1992 0:00
    SKEL DAT 3,868 02-04-1992 0:00
    TITLE DAT 36,799 02-04-1992 0:00
    VDUNGEON DAT 10,933 02-04-1992 0:00
    VIZIER DAT 6,111 02-04-1992 0:00
    VPALACE DAT 14,212 02-04-1992 0:00
    21 File(s) 292,986 Bytes.


    Version 1.3, Disk 1 of 1 (3.5" 720 KB DS/DD):

    Directory of A:\
    CDUNGEON DAT              9,407 02-04-1992  0:00
    CONEDIT COM 10,996 02-04-1992 0:00
    CONFIG DAT 28 02-04-1992 0:00
    CPALACE DAT 12,889 02-04-1992 0:00
    DESKTOPD CFG 55 02-04-1992 0:00
    DIGISND1 DAT 50,101 02-04-1992 0:00
    DIGISND2 DAT 32,426 02-04-1992 0:00
    DIGISND3 DAT 31,008 02-04-1992 0:00
    EDUNGEON DAT 10,165 02-04-1992 0:00
    EPALACE DAT 13,876 02-04-1992 0:00
    FAT DAT 6,521 02-04-1992 0:00
    GUARD DAT 6,950 02-04-1992 0:00
    GUARD1 DAT 117 02-04-1992 0:00
    GUARD2 DAT 117 02-04-1992 0:00
    IBM_SND1 DAT 3,684 02-04-1992 0:00
    IBM_SND2 DAT 3,784 02-04-1992 0:00
    INSTALL EXE 11,289 02-04-1992 0:00
    INSTALL PDM 4,233 02-04-1992 0:00
    KID DAT 37,149 02-04-1992 0:00
    LEVELS DAT 37,031 02-04-1992 0:00
    MIDISND1 DAT 7,096 02-04-1992 0:00
    MIDISND2 DAT 18,958 02-04-1992 0:00
    MT32SND1 DAT 3,833 02-04-1992 0:00
    MT32SND2 DAT 1,129 02-04-1992 0:00
    PRINCE DAT 25,600 02-04-1992 0:00
    PRINCE EXE 125,115 02-04-1992 0:00
    PV DAT 25,829 02-04-1992 0:00
    SETUP CFG 225 02-04-1992 0:00
    SETUP DAT 28 02-04-1992 0:00
    SETUP EXE 35,983 02-04-1992 0:00
    SHADOW DAT 4,715 02-04-1992 0:00
    SKEL DAT 3,868 02-04-1992 0:00
    TITLE DAT 36,799 02-04-1992 0:00
    VDUNGEON DAT 10,933 02-04-1992 0:00
    VIZIER DAT 6,111 02-04-1992 0:00
    VPALACE DAT 14,212 02-04-1992 0:00
    36 File(s) 602,260 Bytes.


    Version 1.0, Disk 1 of 1 (3.5" 720 KB DS/DD):

    Directory of A:\
    CDUNGEON DAT              9,407 29-03-1990  0:00
    CPALACE DAT 12,889 29-03-1990 0:00
    DESKTOPD CFG 55 29-03-1990 0:00
    DIGISND1 DAT 48,545 29-03-1990 0:00
    DIGISND2 DAT 29,143 29-03-1990 0:00
    DIGISND3 DAT 31,000 29-03-1990 0:00
    EDUNGEON DAT 10,165 29-03-1990 0:00
    EPALACE DAT 13,876 29-03-1990 0:00
    FAT DAT 6,521 29-03-1990 0:00
    GUARD DAT 6,950 29-03-1990 0:00
    GUARD1 DAT 117 29-03-1990 0:00
    GUARD2 DAT 117 29-03-1990 0:00
    IBM_SND1 DAT 3,684 29-03-1990 0:00
    IBM_SND2 DAT 3,784 29-03-1990 0:00
    INSTALL EXE 11,449 29-03-1990 0:00
    INSTALL PDM 4,233 29-03-1990 0:00
    KID DAT 37,149 29-03-1990 0:00
    LEVELS DAT 37,031 29-03-1990 0:00
    MIDISND1 DAT 9,368 29-03-1990 0:00
    MIDISND2 DAT 18,408 29-03-1990 0:00
    PRINCE DAT 3,278 29-03-1990 0:00
    PRINCE EXE 123,335 29-03-1990 0:00
    PV DAT 25,829 29-03-1990 0:00
    SHADOW DAT 4,715 29-03-1990 0:00
    SKEL DAT 3,864 29-03-1990 0:00
    TITLE DAT 36,725 29-03-1990 0:00
    VDUNGEON DAT 14,220 29-03-1990 0:00
    VIZIER DAT 6,111 29-03-1990 0:00
    VPALACE DAT 14,226 29-03-1990 0:00
    29 File(s) 526,194 Bytes.


    Version 1.1, Disk 1 of 1 (3.5" 720 KB DS/DD):

    Directory of A:\
    CDUNGEON DAT              9,407 26-04-1990  0:00
    CPALACE DAT 12,889 26-04-1990 0:00
    DESKTOPD CFG 55 21-03-1990 0:00
    DIGISND1 DAT 48,545 26-04-1990 0:00
    DIGISND2 DAT 29,143 26-04-1990 0:00
    DIGISND3 DAT 31,000 26-04-1990 0:00
    EDUNGEON DAT 10,165 26-04-1990 0:00
    EPALACE DAT 13,876 26-04-1990 0:00
    FAT DAT 6,521 26-04-1990 0:00
    GUARD DAT 6,950 26-04-1990 0:00
    GUARD1 DAT 117 26-04-1990 0:00
    GUARD2 DAT 117 26-04-1990 0:00
    IBM_SND1 DAT 3,684 26-04-1990 0:00
    IBM_SND2 DAT 3,784 26-04-1990 0:00
    INSTALL EXE 11,445 10-07-1990 13:26
    INSTALL PDM 4,233 21-03-1990 0:00
    KID DAT 37,149 26-04-1990 0:00
    LEVELS DAT 37,031 26-04-1990 0:00
    MIDISND1 DAT 9,368 26-04-1990 0:00
    MIDISND2 DAT 18,408 26-04-1990 0:00
    PRINCE DAT 3,278 26-04-1990 0:00
    PRINCE EXE 122,167 11-06-1990 0:00
    PV DAT 25,829 26-04-1990 0:00
    SHADOW DAT 4,715 26-04-1990 0:00
    SKEL DAT 3,864 26-04-1990 0:00
    TITLE DAT 36,725 11-06-1990 0:00
    VDUNGEON DAT 14,220 26-04-1990 0:00
    VIZIER DAT 6,111 26-04-1990 0:00
    VPALACE DAT 14,226 26-04-1990 0:00
    29 File(s) 525,022 Bytes.



Installed Directory Contents

Once installed, the following directory structure exists in the game directory:

    Verssion 1.3 Install (with default options chosen)

    Directory of C:\PRINCE
    CDUNGEON DAT              9,407 13-01-2023 11:12
    CONEDIT COM 10,996 13-01-2023 11:12
    CONFIG DAT 28 13-01-2023 11:30
    CPALACE DAT 12,889 13-01-2023 11:12
    DESKTOPD CFG 55 13-01-2023 11:12
    DIGISND1 DAT 50,101 13-01-2023 11:12
    DIGISND2 DAT 32,426 13-01-2023 11:12
    DIGISND3 DAT 31,008 13-01-2023 11:12
    EDUNGEON DAT 10,165 13-01-2023 11:12
    EPALACE DAT 13,876 13-01-2023 11:12
    FAT DAT 6,521 13-01-2023 11:12
    GUARD DAT 6,950 13-01-2023 11:12
    GUARD1 DAT 117 13-01-2023 11:12
    GUARD2 DAT 117 13-01-2023 11:12
    IBM_SND1 DAT 3,684 13-01-2023 11:12
    IBM_SND2 DAT 3,784 13-01-2023 11:12
    INSTALL PDM 4,233 13-01-2023 11:12
    KID DAT 37,149 13-01-2023 11:12
    LEVELS DAT 37,031 13-01-2023 11:12
    MIDISND1 DAT 7,096 13-01-2023 11:12
    MIDISND2 DAT 18,958 13-01-2023 11:12
    MT32SND1 DAT 3,833 13-01-2023 11:12
    MT32SND2 DAT 1,129 13-01-2023 11:12
    PRINCE DAT 25,600 13-01-2023 11:12
    PRINCE EXE 125,115 13-01-2023 11:12
    PV DAT 25,829 13-01-2023 11:12
    SETUP CFG 225 13-01-2023 11:12
    SETUP DAT 28 13-01-2023 11:30
    SETUP EXE 35,983 13-01-2023 11:12
    SHADOW DAT 4,715 13-01-2023 11:12
    SKEL DAT 3,868 13-01-2023 11:12
    TITLE DAT 36,799 13-01-2023 11:12
    VDUNGEON DAT 10,933 13-01-2023 11:12
    VIZIER DAT 6,111 13-01-2023 11:12
    VPALACE DAT 14,212 13-01-2023 11:12
    35 File(s) 590,971 Bytes.


Review: Prince of Persia

If you are completely unfamiliar with this game, I recommend you go to the top of this page and read the introduction first.

Prince of Persia won awards for its slick animation that was based on a film concept called rotoscoping, where the character animation is made up of many still images taken at different angles and put together. It really makes this game what it is, since the rest of the graphics are pretty but quite elementary.

You're on a mission to rescue the princess who is about to be married to the evil Grand Vizier of Persia, Jaffar. She's been given an ultimatum, and been locked in the palace's tower while you're way down in the dungeons. You need to run through about 12 levels which take you from the lowest dungeons to the palace rooms, and finally to the tower. Within each level you will be confronted with hazards like spikes, "chompers" that will cut you in half(!), and natural drops that will kill you. There are also floorboards that will quickly collapse when you run over them (so in some cases you need to jump over these, as they're a one-hit thing - if you touch it, it will fall and break into pieces below).

The controls work amazingly well with a combination of running and jumping, coupled with tip-toeing gently forward to get to the very edge of a platform in order to make the jump. Also, being able to grab a ledge as you fly through the air, or hang from one to make a drop possible are both great additions that help you feel you're controlling a human being. There is no annoying risk of accidentally falling off a ledge if you tiptoe towards it - the game is very fair in that regard, and the fact the game isn't a side-scroller (it's flip-screen) makes you take care when entering the next room.

If the static hazards are not enough, the dungeon and palace rooms have guards of increasing swordsmanship and strength.

Since you start off without any weapon, your first task is to find a sword. Swordfighting is actually really fun and fluid in movement, and doesn't have many moves to learn. Your character will automatically enter 'fight mode' when you are on the same level as a guard, though you can choose to use your sword or sheath it to leave this mode. You can move backwards away from the guard and forwards towards him - the trick I learned is just to take your time and be defensive, especially as the difficulty ramps up in the higher levels. Your skill with the blade becomes most important because near the end of the game you have to defeat the Grand Vizier, Jaffar himself, and not only is he tough, you're also looking at a deadly drop behind you, so retreating backwards is very limited! One thing that can occur is that you can switch around to push the Sultan off the ledge instead of defeating him hit-points wise - this is very cool when it works!

The game automatically keeps track of the level you've reached once you get to Level 2, so you don't have the concept of save games. And if you happen to struggle to the point of giving up, there are numerous cheat codes available.

What really helps keep you going through the levels and breaks up the monotony of 'yet another level' are the cut-scenes that you get to watch at the end of most levels, which bring you back to the story and your purpose. You see the princess presented with an hourglass, denoting that time is running out for her to make her decision. In others, a little mouse appears which the princess kneels down to pet (and the mouse helps you out later on!). A simple, but genius way to help tie the story to your gameplay.

The game has no points and no concept of lives - you simply have 3 bars of health at the start, and you can drink potions that will either take health away or add more bars (up to a maximum of 10). When all your health bars are gone, you're dead and you must start from the beginning of the current level.

It becomes apparent that it's really a maze game set in a 2D platform style. There are dead ends you will reach, and often you will need to backtrack through the level, since the ledge to step on that opens the exit door is usually far away from the actual exit.

The game adds more interesting twists, including 'the ghost' which you meet on Level 2, and he comes back in later levels - you even fight him at one point.... or do you? ;-)

Overall, Prince of Persia is a really fun classic that must be experienced by anyone either coming back to retro DOS gaming, or is experiencing it for the first time. It's not over-engineered and the graphics and sound seem 'just enough' to set the mood and setting of the game. Add to this the fact it will run on almost any old PC, and you've got a very accessible and entertaining game.

    Graphics: Pretty good for 1990. The game runs in 320x200 and looks good in its VGA 256 colours. As mentioned, the rotoscoping adds a lot to the level of realism for a platform title. Subtle changes between the levels give you the indication that you're emerging from the dungeons into the palace, and finally into the tower. 7/10

    Sound: The opening Ad Lib / Sound Blaster tune sets the scene and the age in which the game is set (Persian Empire, so about 400 BC). There is no music during the game aside from when the cutscenes are shown, but the sound effects when you run, the swords clashing, gates opening and closing, chompers slamming down, etc., are all done really well. Oh, and a small amount of digitised speech is also present when, for example, you run into a wall! 7/10

    Gameplay: It's fun! There's not a great amount of brain power needed, but it's not that type of game - it's ultimately an arcade platform with puzzles to solve (think of it as a pre-Tomb Raider 2D Tomb Raider!), but the storyline helps keep things moving forward and acts as a good reminder of why you're doing what you're doing. There is no AI in the game aside from fighting the guards, but that is more random actions than AI - the more difficult guards will be more aggressive, attacking more frequently and are better at parrying your strikes. 7/10

    Lastability: After completing all the levels, there is little to pull you back in, since there's no different way to play it. Still, it will probably take you a while to get through the game, especially if you're new to it. 5/10

    OVERALL: 6.5/10