With the release of the new Prince of Persia movie you can be assured that everyone and their mother will be revisiting old games to relive the fun of yesteryear. Fear not, for the newest title “The Forgotten Sands” has hit the Nintendo Wii with focus placed on the use of the WiiMote.
The Forgotten Sands reverts to a linear romp, more in keeping with the older Sands of Time. This time around however he has help from a djinn (female obviously to keep the geeks interested) and she offers advise when our hero needs it, as well as a variety of new powers. She also supplies a blistering repertoire of unneccessary and sometimes amusing dialogue.
Our hero – the Prince, has a vast array of powers at his disposal which allow him to conjure objects into the game world. This is when things differentiate from the Xbox title however as the Wii version of the game relies very heavily on the Wiimote. In theory this sounds fantastic, however the reality is less than intuitive as you are relying on almost pixel perfect platformer style controls from a somewhat clumsy motion controller. Many actions are placed into motion by pointing the Wiimote cursor at specific areas on screen then pressing the B button. By doing this the gamer can create platforms to aid on the journey however these are designated to various colours.
Only one colour of a platform can be created at any given time, meaning the game takes on a strict puzzle type styling as you figure out which platform to place, and when. The game eases you into this mechanic initially by offering guides and pointers, but as the game progresses they vanish leaving you to struggle on your own. And boy, struggle you do, but for all the wrong reasons.
After playing the Xbox 360 version, the Wii incarnation is deeply unsatisfying …. perhaps it is just me, but I found the somewhat clumsy Wiimote hindered fine positioning and enjoyment of the title. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like the Wiimote, because in certain situations it offers a method of control you just can’t get elsewhere. Sadly however the implementation in Forgotten Sands is sadly inappropriate and I frequently felt like chucking it through the screen of my television. Thankfully my blood pressure tablets eased the pain … a little.
It also fails because quite often the game asks stupifying tasks from you and while I am sure the developers had high hopes for the system, in reality you end up standing in a room swinging your arms around like a demented madman. Placing platforms in the middle of a complex jump for instance leads to a level of frustration I have rarely encountered with a Wii title.
If the control issues were just limited to the puzzle areas of the game it might be forgiven (after a stiff drink), however the combat is equally as frustrating. Again you rely on the Wiimote to despatch death to the hordes of enemies, and again hair loss is inevitable. The enemies are tough, have huge resources of stamina and by the time you have cleared a room, you need a cold shower. Heck, maybe I just need to work out more and am seriously out of shape. More than once, I had just navigated a difficult puzzle, walked into a room full of enemies and died … just before a save point (arggghhh). I can not even try and convey the sense of anger I felt when this happened although I could take a picture of a hole in the door to perhaps get the point across.
The Forgotten Sands is best enjoyed on the Xbox 360, it not only looks much nicer, but it relies on a simple pad control system which works much better inside the contexts of a puzzle action romp like this. The Wiimote really just doesn’t suit this kind of game. Thank god this review is over, my poor heart just can’t take it.