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Battles of Prince of Persia Package Art
Turn-based Strategy
Ubisoft Montreal

Battles of Prince of Persia

The unique configuration of the DS encourages developers to take more risks in development. This means that where publishers might have simply placed a watered-down port of a console game on a handheld, they must now at least think of doing something different for Nintendo's dual-screened machine. This difference is most evident when looking at Ubisoft's most recent handheld release in the Prince of Persia series. While the Sony PSP got what was essentially a slightly-upgraded port of Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, the DS's Battles of Prince of Persia is a completely new release, and one which also happens to be a huge departure from the series trademark, leaving behind the mechanics of platforming and close combat for turn-based strategy.


The Battles of Prince of Persia are presented somewhat sparsely. During an attack, the top screen features simulated action with 3D models, which are fairly attractive but used in a minimal sense. The bottom screen, which is primarily used for commands and a view of the battlefield, is less detailed. Units and formations are expressed as squares on a chess-like board, and while the backdrop does manage to feel like looking at a hand-drawn map, some actual character models instead of the colored squares would have been nice. The Prince and various other commanders also appear in 2D poses throughout the story scenes and in portions of the battles.


The game's music conveys a true Middle-Eastern feeling, and although it is repetitive in some places, it never grates or seems out of place. With no voice acting to speak of, the game's story is conveyed entirely through text. Swords clash, and cavalry horses whinny when struck, which enhances individual attacks during combat.


Taking place between the first two Prince of Persia games, the story begins as the Prince returns home to Persia, only to discover that he is being hounded by an ancient beast, unleashed by the Sands of Time. Campaign mode follows the Prince as he attempts to find a method of containing or destroying it, and in the meantime, clashes with several of his neighbors, as well.

Battles are divided into hours. Each hour, the player selects a card from the Prince's deck, which allows him to give orders to a predetermined amount of units per turn. After that amount has been reached, the opponent has a chance to do the same. Technically, one hour of battle could continue until every single unit has been used at least once, but each side can end the hour early by passing. When both sides pass or are out of units to command, the hour ends. Cards can have special effects beyond just ordering units around, for instance, the Charge! card, which causes two units to proceed to the nearest foe and attack with a bonus--the downside being the unit must attack directly, without a direction change or long-range attack. Cards are won through battle, and the decks can be customized between battles.

Victory depends on any number of factors, which are given individualized point values at the beginning of a battle. In some cases, more than one objective exists, and achieving one but not the other can still ensure a win for the Prince. Even if the Prince is defeated, the battle can still be won by his subordinates, though they will have to continue on without any of his special abilities.

In addition to Campaign mode, players can choose a general and go head-to-head against an AI-controlled opponent in Skirmish mode, which plays much the same as the battles in the story. Each army's leader has a customized deck and differing soldiers (sometimes monsters) to take the field.

Touch control is used in conjuction with the buttons. For instance, touching a friendly unit on screen will activate it and give it orders, but holding Up on the Control Pad while touching the screen will instead scroll the map wherever it needs to go. During turns, the top screen will be used to display victory conditions, a smaller version of the map or the status of each army, all of which can be cycled through with the shoulder triggers. The combination of touch control with the buttons, which is basically a requirement, may seem overly complicated for novice players or Prince of Persia fans who are not fond of or familiar with turn-based strategy.


Battles of Prince of Persia allows for two players to clash in multi-Card play. Essentially, the two-player game is nearly identical to the single-player, save for the inclusion of a human intelligence guiding the other side's moves. In fact, the Prince's opponent is always called "Player 2" even in the story mode.


There's no question that Battles of Prince of Persia feels different from a Japanese-developed strategy game, like Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics, and the differences go deeper than just the character designs. Battle plans must be developed on a much larger scale and in different timeframes, and the addition of a card-based bonus system will probably be a shake-up for seasoned strategy players.

While it's refreshing to see Ubisoft make an entirely different DS game as companion to its console counterparts, there are still a few flaws in this game. The presentation could have been a little cleaner, especially with the colored box units that are present throughout entire battles, and the forced combination of touch screen and button control could be a stumbling block for some players.

final score 7.5/10

Staff Avatar Aaron Roberts
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