Prince of Persia for ZX Spectrum
Prince of Persia ZX Spectrum - Nicodim, MC Software
Jafar, eh? Why would anyone name part of their ruling body after a biscuit? Maybe that explains the sorry state of affairs afflicting Persia at the start of the game, for the Jafar in question has seized power. This might not be so bad (after all, everyone would have a giggle whenever they addressed him) but he's imprisoned the princess and given her an ultimatum: marry him or die in an hour. To make things that little bit more interesting, the hero - that's you – has been thrown into the dungeons. You need to get to the princess and dispose of the evil Jafar inside of the hour she has remaining to save the kingdom… sound simple?
Well, that much is for, ladies and gents, Prince of Persia - arcade/platform/puzzle classic of everything from the PC to the Master System and the 16-bit consoles in between - has made it to the Speccy. And thanks to some truly amazing programming by Russian software house Nicodim, it's as perfect a conversion as you could hope for on Speccy disk. In Russian. But don't fret: Prince of Persia (or POP as we lovingly refer to it) is about as big on text as an Ocean platformer, so you'll be able to review the few lines given with a cocked eyebrow before settling down to some action proper and play the same game that buckled its swash into the hearts of gamers everywhere about six years ago. Now, this is a bit of a two-edged sword as POP was not perfect when it came out, and the Speccy version has all the joys and quirks of the original.
You spend your time running around a number of dungeons and what look like the palace basement, trying to find the floor switch which will open the exit door – which also needs finding – in order to get to the next level. All this needs to be done with haste as the hour the princess has is a literal hour in real-time as well as game-time, giving you 60 minutes to finish the whole thing. In order to progress through the dungeons you need to jump gaps, navigate floor spike, iron choppers and loose floor tiles, as well as dispatching Jafar's goons with your trusty blade recovered in the first level. Fortunately the dungeon architect was a particularly kind fellow who left potions scattered around which give you health back and some of which even increase your total hit points.
The controls are pretty intuitive and soon(ish) you'll find yourself leaping about, grabbing onto platforms, hauling yourself up and down levels, matching blades with guards and generally having a good time. It feels like being Errol Flynn or someone similar in one of those 50s movies and the sheer degree of control you have makes the game world feel much more alive. It also helps displace the repetitive nature of the levels and the fact that you are basically doing the same thing over and over again.
However, it's not all rosy in the land of Persia's dungeons. To start with, although your character is very able, he's not particularly controllable and you'll soon want to hurt him after he falls down the same gap for the umpteenth time because he takes time to think about jumping after you press the button and a while to stop when you let go of the button. As a consequence, dying comes often and easily and the lack of any restart points on levels means you will quickly resort to saving every 30 seconds on an emulated copy, or crying if you're playing the original.
The dungeons themselves get pretty repetitive after a few levels; they're all you get, and let's face it, doing an entire game in dungeons and keep it interesting is a tricky thing to pull off at the best of times. To be fair, there can't have been much memory left for varied backgrounds after the beautifully-animated main sprite and his enemies, but the repetitive locations is a problem which also plagued every other version. As it is, here's the formula for you to make your own POP level: just randomly arrange the following and sprinkle them throughout two or three types of level: a)dodge spikes b)dodge crushers c)defeat guards d)leap gaps e)navigate falling floors, f)hit switches to open doors before they close again and g) die lots. This formula is repeated, repeated and repeated some more until you finally finish the game, probably with a lot less hair than when you started. Yes, you will eventually finish it, because no one level is that difficult and you get passcodes for each level which give you a fairly generous pre-determined proportion of the time limit regardless of how you were doing when you reached the level.
In the end, the question is whether you have the patience and tooth-gritting determination to see it through to the end. Personally, there came a point when my character fell off a three-storey level for (what felt like) the hundredth time that level (not counting all the levels before) because of his thinking time between button-pressing and reacting and I left him in a bloody mess on the floor.
Life Expectancy: 56% - This bit's personal: how much can you take?
Graphics: 77% - Clear, defined, well-animated, a bit empty… and an alarming lack of variety.
Sound: 39% - What's there is good... but that's not much. And not being able to hear the gates close is not helpful.
Gameplay: 54% - At first it seems great, but then the cracks begin to appear and it all starts dragging.
Summary: Some good ideas, but the execution ultimately fails it: it's just too annoying and repetitive. (Score) - Jon Hyde.
IMPORTANT: (corrections by Tarjan Richard Gabor)
"Nicodim, MC Software", "Russian software house Nicodim" - these are *very* false things, because:
a. Nicodim is not a software house, but a standalone person
b. MC Software is not a software house, but a demo/cracking group situated in Moscow. It is called fully Magic Soft.
Further information about the ex-Soviet software development in my homepage: http://tarjan.uw.hu/zx_gamez_after_93_en.htm
So they only distributed the game.
And for last: how can get only 57% Prince of Persia for ZX Spectrum??? I mean, in the classical times said by the professional press, it can not be done for Spectrum, as the hardware is not enough powerful for realization. But Nicodim did it. In fact, this was the most perfect conversion for the ZX Spectrum ever saw the light! Judge a game respecting the hardware limitations, please! And do not forget, it is not done by a professional software house, but a standalone person!!! So do not say silly things for your visitors.
Both ZX Spectrum and ATM Turbo versions are pirated ones. I mean, authors were made it without the agreement of the original authors. It was very common in the territory of ex-USSR. And PoP for ZX Spectrum was one of the greatest hits in the ex-USSR!
Prince of Persia - ZX Spectrum version (Nicodim/Magic Soft, 1996)
Official version was not developed for the ZX Spectrum from Prince of Persia, and nor for Commodore 64. By the contemporary press, it is impossible to write the game for the ZX Spectrum, because the hardware is too weak.
Initially Entropy Group (Simon Cooke and Chris White), who were developing the Sam version of Prince of Persia, contacted Domark with the idea of a ZX Spectrum game. Here they get negative answer, as 1993 was the last (half) year of commercial life of the Spectrum. And it was impossible to publish it by themselves, as too many licence royalties were asked.
The ZX Spectrum version of Prince of Persia finally saw the light in 1996 in Russia. Funnily enough, despite of the prognostications of professional press, this became the best conversion ever made for the Spectrum!
Strictly sad it is a pirated release, because the program made without the permission of original developers. Very probably they did not know even about the existence of it for a long time. Additionally, also not think, that Spectrum between 1991 and 1998 with nearly 90% of market share was the most popular computer in the territory of ex-USSR. So the developer and trader of program could earn nice money with it.
We have to know, that originally Soviet Union signed the international copyright laws, and interpreting words by words the paragraphs, they are not relevant for the post-states, so not for Russia too. Certainly, the post-states resigned after this agreement, but when the program was born, this fairly uncertain situation was stand - so unlawful piracy was not forbidden. The situation is getting more strange: another groups also pirating this pirated edition, like it was their own game. Above Nicodim and Magic Soft, numerous cracked versions were available in the quite huge area of country: Another World Corp, ChuckaByte, Omega (Hackers) Group, Phantom Family, Phantasy all had their own versions. Last group is also released it on tape, and further more promised the Euro-conform Plus D floppy version too. These groups even competing with each other's, who can crack faster the game. Of course, it was resulted in decreased number of sales of the "original" game.
If it is even not enough, there are persons, who further pirated these pirated editions. Mac Buster from Magic Soft made the .SLT version of the game, which is easy to load into the European emulators (SLT = super loader track - where levels are putted after each other's in sequence). This was probably done because the ordinary emulators could not handle the Russian originated emulator formats at this time (.TRD, . SCL etc.). With this, Prince of Persia among the firsts (or it was the very first?) could prove, what the machine can do, as well to introduce, that in Russia ZX Spectrum still a living platform.
This .SLT version was restored to tape version by the ex-Yugoslavian Tomac Kaz. Version of Phantasy was 615K and Tomac's only 465K... This was partly realised by removing the picture of the floppy disk while loading, which was anyway unnecessary with cassette loading. He also made some bugfixes.
Let's see now the background of the game. Nor Nicodim, and neither Magic Soft were not software companies in usual terms. Nicodim (Yaroslavl B. Roman Romnaov) was a very talented programmer. He was assembled his Pentagon 128 clone in 1993, and in the next year, purchased an Amiga 600. Green light for game conversion! He made the coding and graphics works by himself alone. Music was converted by D. J. Musicsoft (Dmitry Hiseynov). Nicodim above the PoP, adopted Pirates for the Spectrum too, but after the military service, he did not published another programmes. Magic Soft (often shortened to: MC Soft) is a cracker, demo, swapper group from Moscow. They were ranked among the elite groups, in fact they were the leader distributors of Moscow. Magic Soft worked in the same way, as most similar groups: they made different game collections, disc magazines, which they sent from the centre of Moscow to smaller villages, where "regional dealers" (mostly enthusiast youngs) sold it, getting royalties from each sold software.
Their co-operation with Nicodim is not a fortune, because early demo versions of PoP and Pirates also spreaded by MC Soft. They were copied as appetisers them into the previously mentioned discs.
The program was originally promised for November of 1995, at last it was ready for February of 1996. It was counted into the five best and well-known games (another classics are: Star Inheritance: Black Cobra , Black Raven and UFO 1-2). Almost unbelievable, but succeed to realise the smooth sprite animation too.
The password entering method was inspired by NES version, as different versions of Nintendo clones, the Dendy consoles were the most popular gaming platform beside the Spectrum (and later the Amiga). So, in that way Nicodim never see original Spectrum, also did not get in contact with original NES consoles, only with the clones.
Curiosity of the game is the contraction of last three levels, making the game a harder.
Some sources regard a little bit tenuous the version of PoP for ZX Spectrum, mainly because of lack of sprite details. Well, it has got also its own reason. Those, who tried to convert games directly from Amiga, soon faced with the lack of memory. Most of Russians had only 128K ZX Spectrum clone, as well Nicodim himself. The very talented programmers (for example XL Design: Mortal Kombat, Alien Factory: Walker) nearly unbelievable, but succeed to realise the smooth animation on an 8 bit, 3,5MHz machine, but simultaneously they run out from 128K. Until now, all conversion examples show: minimum 256K needed to realise an Amiga game in Spectrum. But with this, they commercially failed, because not were very widedspreaded the 256K or more memory machines. Mortal Kombat and Walker were terminated mostly because of that reason.
We can declare, that Nicodim surely should do a more faithful Amiga-conversion if he had a 256K clone, but that would be practically unsalable. This is also proven by the fact, that the 8 bit SAM version also runs on a 256K machine...
In April of 2002 the Russian ZX-News Internet magazine published an article, which hinted, that Domark was finally released the game. Of course, it was only a 1st April joke, the screenshots were grabbed from the Entropy game from 1993.
All these things show, we faced with a programming excellence. So worth to try the program, to get know, how expanded the limits of the hardware to the maximum in the territory of ex-USSR.
Comparison of the different versions:
Nicodim/Magic Soft: the original version
Another World: password generator, cheat mode
ChuckaByte: only copy protection was removed (?)
MacBuster: .SLT format conversion
Omega Hackers Group: only copy protection was removed (?)
Phantasy: trainer mode, cassette version
Phantom Family: passwords of the levels in the intro, compression
Tomac Kaz: optimised, bugfixed tape version
Esztergom (Hungary), 06 January, 2008.
Tarjan Richard Gabor (www.tarjan.uw.hu)
In this page:
Prince Of Persia (1995)(Nicodim - MC Software)(Ru)[h Another World] 260 Ko
Prince Of Persia (1995)(Nicodim - MC Software)(Ru)[h Phantom Group] 135 Ko
Prince Of Persia (1996)(Nicodim - Omega Group)(Ru) 249 Ko
Prince Of Persia (demo) (1996)(Nicodim - Magic Soft) 27 Ko
"h Another World" is an another cracking-group, which I did not mention in my article. Seems, they made cracked-trained version of Prince of Persia for ZX Spectrum.
As too many cracker/demo/swapping groups were existed in the mid 90's Russia, it is impossible to take into count every of them. I take my list here, which is the most reliable information site:
About the following screenshots
They are released as April 1st joke in the ZX-Next site. They announced, that an offical version will born... but it is not true.
Anyway, quite nice screenshootz from Russia. Now I am wiritng a comprehensive review about all PoP verisons for the ZX Spectrum I know. You will be surprised.
Details will be come soon. ;) Also contaed the man with the Enterprise 128 version. Richard.
Topic on forums
Topic on forums: http://popuw.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3587
Level 1: http://maps.speccy.cz/maps/PrinceofPersia01.png
Level 2: http://maps.speccy.cz/maps/PrinceofPersia02.png
Level 3: http://maps.speccy.cz/maps/PrinceofPersia03.png
Level 4: http://maps.speccy.cz/maps/PrinceofPersia04.png
Level 5: http://maps.speccy.cz/maps/PrinceofPersia05.png
Level 6: http://maps.speccy.cz/maps/PrinceofPersia06.png
Level 7: http://maps.speccy.cz/maps/PrinceofPersia07.png
Level 8: http://maps.speccy.cz/maps/PrinceofPersia08.png
Level 9: http://maps.speccy.cz/maps/PrinceofPersia09.png
Level 10: http://maps.speccy.cz/maps/PrinceofPersia10.png
Level 11: http://maps.speccy.cz/maps/PrinceofPersia11.png
Level 12: http://maps.speccy.cz/maps/PrinceofPersia12.png
.ZIP 1-file download: ftp://ftp.worldofspectrum.org/pub/sinclair/games-maps/p/PrinceOfPersia.zip
If you can't open the maps, go here http://zx-spectrum.wz.cz/rubriky/princeofpersia.htm and click on "mapa".
Level 1: http://www.ep128.hu/Games/pic/!Map/Prince_of_Persia_Level01.png
Level 2: http://www.ep128.hu/Games/pic/!Map/Prince_of_Persia_Level02.png
Level 3: http://www.ep128.hu/Games/pic/!Map/Prince_of_Persia_Level03.png
Level 4: http://www.ep128.hu/Games/pic/!Map/Prince_of_Persia_Level04.png
Level 5: http://www.ep128.hu/Games/pic/!Map/Prince_of_Persia_Level05.png
Level 6: http://www.ep128.hu/Games/pic/!Map/Prince_of_Persia_Level06.png
Level 7: http://www.ep128.hu/Games/pic/!Map/Prince_of_Persia_Level07.png
Level 8: http://www.ep128.hu/Games/pic/!Map/Prince_of_Persia_Level08.png
Level 9: http://www.ep128.hu/Games/pic/!Map/Prince_of_Persia_Level09.png
Level 10: http://www.ep128.hu/Games/pic/!Map/Prince_of_Persia_Level10.png
Level 11: http://www.ep128.hu/Games/pic/!Map/Prince_of_Persia_Level11.png
Level 12: http://www.ep128.hu/Games/pic/!Map/Prince_of_Persia_Level12.png
Review for Enterprise, CPC and ZX Spectrum (128K): http://www.ep128.hu/Ep_Games/Leiras/Prince_of_Persia.htm
Maps can also be found.
Emulator online version
worldofspectrum.org Information Page
Prince of Persia
Prince of Persia 1996 (Magic Soft)  Rus 128 Arc
Additional info: The TR-DOS image requires the TR-DOS Operating System (and possibly a Pentagon or Scorpion)
Remarks: A Prince of Persia Playable Demo was released a year before
Prince of Persia Playable Demo
Prince of Persia Playable Demo 1995 (Magic Soft)  128 Arc
Additional info: The TR-DOS image requires the TR-DOS Operating System (and possibly a Pentagon or Scorpion)
Remarks: The full game Prince of Persia was released year later.
The ZX Files - Issue #3
The ZX Files is a disk magazine aimed at fans of the ZX Spectrum, both running the real machine and emulation.
Issue #3 talks about Prince of Persia.
Playing tips for PoP1 - ZX Spectrum
Click on the picture to enlarge it.
Zx Spectrum: Prince of Persia 1 - Introduction Video
If you can't watch the movie, click on the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5ApyNW6q5I.
Zx Spectrum: Prince of Persia 1 - Game Video
If you can't watch the movie, click on the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_qnLmfxhS0.
Prince of Persia ZX Spectrum version has even the torch with loose floor tile.
In this version, the torches are stored separately from the level data, so theoretically any tile could have a tile+torch version.
And yes, level 10 and 11 are swapped:
In the ZX-version, Level "10" (11 in DOS version) they're not loose floors, only regular. So in other words, you would not have to jump over a loose tile and the potion will not disappear.