11 January 2011 | TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews
Wait, what is this grainy stuff I'm walking on, again?
At some point(I have no idea where this fits into the Sands of Time trilogy, since it has none of the titular time powers, but it must be after the first and before the second, and that makes no sense as there's no mention of the Dahaka... anyway, it's the same dude), the Prince(who's back to incessantly whining) goes out in search of a kingdom to call home. He's led to the cursed ruins(complete with a trapped princess) of one(that he has to clean up before he could possibly claim it... I guess because otherwise, there'd be no game) by the genie(or djann... a female djinn; and no, I hadn't heard that word, either; no three wishes thing though, she's just his sidekick throughout, granting him magic powers that I'll describe later) Zahra(who a friend of yours can join in for co-op to play as... then again, it's really "meh" what they'll get to do, so you may not be doing it much), who enjoys long walks along lethal areas, being called by her name and going into stone statues and asking Prince to kiss her(I guess making up for the fact that her lips never move... she also badly needs to start paying her hairdresses to get those scissors out, she's liable to slip in it... or would be, if she weren't flying all the time). The theme this time around is plants, and it's just as lame as it sounds. This has by far the least memorable enemies(and little versatility), though the scenery sometimes makes up for it with breathtaking scope(and outer space! Sort of). You'll go through some areas more than once, similar to Warrior Within. Thankfully the level design is reasonable(so it isn't too bad), if there are few challenging spots, especially early on, and the puzzles don't get tough until late. This has an appropriate length, around the same as the other recent ones. The visual FX are pretty simple(a *lot* of glowy crap, it seems like they went through the entire color pallet on that one), and this even cannibalizes the "eerie life-up" area of SoT, and it's far less effective here. This has about the same game-play as worked in the others(one great thing is that we get a white trailing line showing if you can make a manoeuvre and the like... they should have implemented this way sooner; they do streamline the crap out of this, and it takes away a lot of danger), if the fighting(with only one sword at a time now... and he holds it backhandedly, I guess to show off) is slower(...why? It's also less like a speedy chess match now... and awkward, for no reason; you do still "enter" combat, and the amount is appropriate; they also seem to eliminate a lot of moves; and the Gauntlet punching(from the '08 one that I have not tried yet), for breaking the opponent's block, is largely useless), they try to epic the heck out of the usual jumps(that you can do all the time(and it now doubles as special action)... the roll got its own key, a hard to reach one) and such(slow-motion? In fantasy?). What adds to it, and makes the acrobatic aspect that is key to these seem fresh anew(quite an accomplishment) is the Creation Powers. Pointing the Wii-Mote(note that this console version appears to be completely different from the one for the others) at a wall and you can create a hook to grab and climb by or at the floor and you can create a tornado to hurl you upwards, and if you press the button mid-air, you can create a sphere to float in. They won't move from where you activate them, and you can only do one of each at a time, so you still have to use the path they want you to... if you can occasionally customize the exact approach. This does get to be fun, exciting and intense, and all in all, if you enjoy these(I can't get enough of them), you'll want to get this one, too. There's a hint system that can come in handy(some are really "duh"). The camera can really screw you over, you can partially turn and then it'll reset it automatically, and it'd be nice if it showed you if you'd die from going over a ledge or if there's something down there for you. Panoramic view is excessively distant. There's a retro 2D portion(also one map(there are a handful, they vary in quality) that is kind of cool, one of the surprisingly few and unremarkable unlockables... only four videos, and all about animation?), it's nowhere near as good as the experience in the old and feels thrown in. This comes with either the original '89 one or the '92 re-release(the cover and the disc disagree on the matter, and I haven't gotten access to it yet). There are a couple of bosses and you tend to go up against them at least twice, and you dodge a bunch then slash, rinse and repeat. The final one is the easiest since the one from the '03 one, and I honestly wonder if there was some last minute change or decision(there's only one difficulty setting, further lowering the replayability). This only has one "push this, gesture this way at this time" bit, reminding us how awesome those are(well, this one is no big deal to complete... at least they learned their lesson from Rival Swords) and making us wish it wasn't the only one in this. You can "cheat" your way past some traps. There are bugs in this, if they tend to be minor. AI is poor(I've seen them kill themselves on "death zones"). The ending is... strange, if OK enough of a conclusion(the twist is obvious right off the bat). There is disturbing content and mild violence(no blood, I think) in this. I recommend this to anyone who loves these(if you don't, you may be disappointed), if it could be a bit better. 7/10