Is this Wii-exclusive version of the new Prince of Persia game worth it?
Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, the first entry in the series made specifically for Wii, is exactly what you would expect if you've played any of the other games in the series. There is solid platforming that has you running along walls and jumping over gaps, combat that drags the game down, and a mildly interesting story that wouldn't be out of place in an Arabian Nights storybook. The Forgotten Sands doesn't reinvent the wheel, but since it's coming from such a strong background (the Sands of Time trilogy), it doesn't have to.
The Wii enhancements don't add a whole lot to the game, though they are interesting at times. The hook of the game is found in three Wii pointer-controlled powers. The Spirit Hook, used on walls, allows you to place rings so you can bridge gaps; the Whirlwind, used on the ground, shoots you up into the air to reach new areas; and the Magical Sphere, which you get late in the game, gives you the ability to save yourself from missed jumps. The game doesn't overwhelm you with these powers, and their introductions are very well-paced. The first few hours of the game even throws on a form of training wheels, as you can only use the powers in specified areas. After that, you're allowed to use the powers at will.
For the most part, the pointer control of each power are based on context and work well, except when the Magical Sphere shows up and occasionally causes you to place a Spirit Hook on a wall in the background instead of saving your skin. The powers also have combat uses, but the jerky camera control in combat makes it difficult to train your pointer on a foe.
Wii controls also factor heavily into the combat, which is the low point of the game. Basic gesture controls are used for attacks, which works most of the time. The best part of the combat is the upgrade system that adds more powerful moves as you defeat enemies and complete Heroic Challenges, which are more or less a form of Xbox 360 Achievements. The boss fights sprinkled throughout the game are large in scope, but really boil down to quick time events.
The platforming is spot on. You can move around from area to area with great ease, narrowly avoiding the different obstacles. If you're familiar with the series, it isn't anything too terribly new, but newcomers to the series will likely be wowed by the quality.
Graphically, The Forgotten Sands is hit or miss. The art direction is appealing, but the technical quality of the graphics is lackluster, looking more like a middle-of-the-road GameCube game than a Wii game. The sound is in a similar vein, with some sections having good sound design, and other sections lacking sound in some places.
There are a number of unlockables scattered throughout, including the Super Nintendo version of the original Prince of Persia. Unfortunately, that version is pretty awful, but the rest of the content is solid. The highlight of the unlockables is a retro-styled 2D bonus level that is reminiscent of - and better than - the Super Nintendo game that's included.
The Forgotten Sands is a good game, but it's really just more of the same if you've played a recent entry in the Prince of Persia series. The Wii additions aren't essential, boiling down to basic Wii Remote pointer control. If you're hankering for a new Prince of Persia experience this game is worth it, but it's not going to win any accolades for originality.