What a coincidence! Just as the Prince Of Persia movie hits cinemas, Ubisoft releases a new Prince Of Persia game on every system known to man! And so, along with the Wii version (not to mention the PS3, 360, PC, PSP and - knowing Ubisoft - probably the Mega Drive and CD-i versions too), here's a new DS title looking for our hard-earned £30.
The Forgotten Sands should be very familiar to anyone who played the previous DS Prince Of Persia game, The Fallen King. Most immediately obvious is the graphical style: the Prince and his enemies are chunky, almost cartoony in appearance, and it gives the game a sense of style that, while a bit too similar to its predecessor, still sets it apart from the versions you'll play on other systems.
When you start to play, you'll quickly realise that it's not just the graphics that are recognisable, it's the gameplay as well. The game is still controlled entirely with the stylus. You hold the stylus in front of the Prince to make him walk in that direction, swipe an enemy to attack them and tap an enemy to jump over them.
Leaping over gaps and climbing walls is as easy as tapping the location you want the prince to go and the art of moving crates has been lifted from the Zelda DS games, with directional arrows appearing once you approach one. It all works nicely.
And herein lies the game's problem. It works too well. For huge chunks of the game's platforming sections all you really need to do is hold the stylus where you think the Prince should go next (you don't even need to lift it off the screen at any point) and he'll do all the work for you. It doesn't really feel like you're in control: more that he's your personal slave, performing increasingly difficult tasks for you as you sit back in your comfy recliner and simply point to the next place you want him to go.
Yes, it makes the game easier to play, and we're sure younger gamers will get a kick out of it. But we don't see what's wrong with a game that offers a bit of a challenge. Strange as it sounds, it'd be nice to miss a jump every now and then and send the Prince hurtling to his doom. It'd be rewarding to methodically make your way up a huge construction made of platforms, walls and ledges, rather than simply telling the Prince "jump over there, then climb up there, then hop along there" knowing he won't mess it up. It's also very short - you'll have it all licked in five hours, and there's little to no replay value.
The Forgotten Sands is undoubtedly a pretty game and its touch controls are slickly implemented, particularly during combat. But the fact that it's so difficult to mess things up detracts from its fun factor. Well put together, but ultimately disappointing.