BATTLES OF PRINCE OF PERSIA / Ubisoft / Nintendo DS



Y'know what really grinds my gears? Even more than Generic Animu RPGs? Card battle games. Specifically, games that take an established genre that everyone is already familiar with, and then clumsily fuse a "card battle" system onto them, needlessly complicating everything and forcing you to learn all sorts of random abstract rules.

This is even worse when applied to Prince of Persia, which has always been an action-adventure series, and really has no business being anywhere near cards at all, much less turn-based strategy.

The turn-based strategy choice is an inexplicable one, but I guess it could have worked out well. It didn't, but it could have. The card thing, I suspect, is more insidious - given the generally low production values and horrible art of the game, I suspect it was nothing more than a gambit to keep from having to hire a proper animation team. You see, field units are now represented by generic cards that just sort of slide around the map, which certainly would have cut down on what would have been a significant amount of unit animations to create. Outside of the ugly automated battle scenes, all graphics in the game are static.



The game is intended as a plot bridge between the first two Playstation 2 games. I have not played those, so I can't much comment on the story and how well it works out, but coming in from a newbie perspective, I found it unimaginably dull. The only point of interest to me was how much of an unrepentant prick the Prince seems to be - apparently he jammed himself nicely by playing around with time in the first game, and in his attempts to save his own ass from some time-beast that is chasing him and trying to kill him to restore balance to the universe, he draws Persia into needless war with three other countries and eventually manages to get most of his family killed or captured. Stay classy, Prince of Persia.

Ubisoft seriously seems to me to be the new Acclaim. "Need a hackjob done on one of your popular franchises for quick cash? Send it on over here, we have no shame!" A mediocre-at-absolute-best strategy/card game seems superfluous on a system that has Advance Wars, Fire Emblem and the whole back catalog of GBA strat-RPG type games. The battles are just ugly to look at, and the AI is weak - the only place where it is a challenge is where it is vastly more powerful than you in missions toward the end of the game. The card system also makes the battles horrendously random - you get a random load of cards each turn, each of which has different effects and different amounts of turns in which you can move units. If you happen to draw a bunch of cards with crap movement, and the foe draws a bunch of high-movement cards, they can swarm all over you and flank you and there's not much you can do about it. There's also a bizarre "point system" by which you can end up winning a battle automatically by killing enough crap common enemies, without ever even engaging the enemy commanders or moving into the positions they are trying to defend.



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