Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
A few notable exceptions aside, platformers became pants during the transition to 3D, especially on PC. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was one of the first to win me back over, a slick, stylish, wall-running take on Jordan Mechner’s classic 2D games. It’s a grand adventure through – and over, and edging around parapets of – a colourful Arabian palace in a fairytale of swords, sorcery, sweet flips, and sand monsters.
The Sands of Time was the first 3D platformer I played that really made levels come alive. You scale pillars, swing from flagpoles, and run across walls, each grand room being one big jumping puzzle. Interesting architectural details turn out to be critical paths. And if you cock it up, well, you can rewind time.
Because magic, the Prince holds a dagger that can rewind time a short while, letting you recover from mistakes. The game’s story is wrapped up as him retelling past events to someone else, so if you die it rewinds time and is cleverly treated as him making a mistake in the tale, rolling failure into the game. Though I’d doubt the credibility of a storyteller who says “And then I fell and the spikes speared me from groin to throat… wait, that’s not what happened” seven times.
We wouldn’t have Assassin’s Creed without Sands of Time, would we?