Plenty of things are ruined by lasting longer than they should or by existing in quantities far greater than any human needs. Whether it’s a movie quickly going from excellent to boring because it drags on and on or a meal that starts out awesome and ends with a food coma and the thought “Why the hell did I eat that much?” we’ve all had good experiences go bad because something was overdone. Unfortunately, this is the exact feeling that I had as I tapped my way through 3D action-adventure Prince of Persia: The Fallen King. While it features some impressive visuals and even more impressive use of the DS touch screen, its novelty quickly wears thin as repetitive level design and a sometimes glaring lack of control options weigh it down.
While the touch screen makes The Fallen King more immediately intuitive, this functionality isn’t always necessary. Your stylus controls the Prince; tapping or dragging it across the screen makes him move, jump, fight, or perform deft acrobatic maneuvers. The stylus controls work surprisingly well, given the Prince’s array of actions — though in heated moments, furious tapping occasionally elicits unwanted responses (I rolled off more than one platform instead of jumping like I’d intended). I’m all for creative controls…I just wish that I had the option of using the D-pad for movement and a button for some of those tense live-or-die situations.
Click the image above to check out all the Prince of Persia: The Fallen King screens.
The controls work well enough for most situations, but they’re not worth extending the game so that you can keep using them. The Fallen King feels artificially long, as though a few good ideas were tossed into a random level-generator and then slapped together until a game of desirable length formed. The first few times I learned a new move, I was excited to conquer obstacles with it…but the game makes you repeat every action to such a degree that you eventually run into a room and think, “Yeah, this is like the other billion times I did this exact same series of moves.” It’s a lot like attending a magic show night after night — you eventually get bored because you already know exactly how the next few moments will play out.
If the team behind The Fallen King had just made it a lot shorter and perhaps added some additional challenges, like time trials, it might have helped with the diminishing returns I felt from each successive level. In the end, I felt like I’d purchased a large tub of popcorn at the movies — filling and delicious at first, but way too much in the end.