Prince (Prince of Persia)
|Prince of Persia character|
The Prince, as seen in The Forgotten Sands
|First game||Prince of Persia (1989)|
|Created by||Jordan Mechner|
|Voiced by||Yuri Lowenthal (Sands of Time, The Two Thrones, The Forgotten Sands)
Robin Atkin Downes (Warrior Within)
Nolan North (Prince of Persia 2008)
|Portrayed by||Jake Gyllenhaal|
The Prince is the title given to the collective group of protagonists from the Prince of Persia series of video games. There are three different princes in the series; the original prince from the first three games, the prince from the Sands of Time series and the prince from the 2008 reboot. These characters are not all born princes of court but obtain the title as their corresponding series progresses.
Each prince appears in a universe almost unrelated to the other princes. All princes share the common traits of swordsmanship and acrobatic prowess while fighting the forces of evil, though the Sands of Time prince also had mystical powers. Throughout the history of the franchise, the protagonists are never given any given names or family name except for the film and the graphic novel installments.
The prince, together with the series, has been linked with several different leaps forward in game design and story-telling, with the most notable being the use of the rotoscope technique, a precursor to motion capture, for animating the prince in the first two games, and the heavy narrative and strong characters as shown in the Sands of Time.
Although the protagonist of every Prince of Persia video game is referred to as the prince, there are actually three different, unrelated princes. The prince in the original 1989 video game, Prince of Persia, was designed by the series' creator Jordan Mechner. For the Japanese computer ports, Arsys Software and Riverhillsoft redesigned the character's appearance in 1990, introducing the classic turban and vest look. This variation of the prince appears in later ports of Prince of Persia, and then in Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame (1993) and Prince of Persia 3D (1999).
The remake of the first game, Prince of Persia Classic, however, features the prince as he appears in the Sands of Time trilogy, rather than the original trilogy. This second prince also appears as the protagonist in the second series of games, which rebooted the franchise. The series includes Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2003), Prince of Persia: Warrior Within (2004), Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones (2005) and Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (2010). When Mechner originally wrote the story for Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, it was suggested the game was a prequel to the original trilogy, the prince being the same character in both stories. After the release of Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, Ubisoft Montreal stated they intended the new series to be a separate entity, because its players would be unlikely to be familiar with the storyline from the original games.
A third variation of the prince appears in the reboot game Prince of Persia (2008). Ben Mattes, producer of 2008's Prince of Persia, explained that the inspiration for the character design of the prince was to express how he will eventually become a prince through an epic journey. Additional inspiration was drawn from characters such as Sinbad from One Thousand and One Nights, Han Solo from Star Wars, and Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings. Mattes explained that when designing the character, Ubisoft wanted to communicate visually the dichotomy of the life of an adventurer. The prince wears red and blue cloth as a turban and scarves, a sign of wealth. However, he also wears plain leather leggings to help protect his legs, instead of opting for fashion. In addition, the prince wears a single metal gauntlet on his left hand, and wields a sword with his right. Mattes also said: "We never felt that it was the Prince of Persia. It's a Prince of Persia. There are many Princes of Persia within this fantasy universe that we call Prince of Persia."
For the film adaptation, the prince was given a name and portrayed by American actor Jake Gyllenhaal, noted for his early role in Donnie Darko. Gyllenhaal said that there were several reasons that he chose to accept the role of the prince, including the character's appeal (he said that Prince Dasdan was "wry and funny and had a good time, but at the same time kicked some ass,") and the fact that the film was based and on the video game and he "[liked] to do things that people have tried their hand at and haven't succeeded." Part of preparing for the role was an intensive training regime, managed by professional coach Simon Waterson; even while filming, Gyllenhaal and Waterson continued their regime. Gyllenhaal's looks and especially his haircut for the role were ridiculed by several sources, but Ghazzal Dabiri, a lecturer and coordinator of Iranian studies at Columbia University, said it was historically accurate, comparing the portrayal of Persians in the film positively to those of the film 300 and adding: "An Iranian warrior-prince would have had those kinds of muscles! They did train in martial arts from very young ages. Some accounts say as soon as they were old enough to be taught reading, writing, arithmetic, and so on, martial arts ... was part of their curriculum."
In video games
The prince appears in the original Prince of Persia (1989) as the protagonist and sole playable character. He is an adventurer from a foreign land who has never experienced royalty, but wins the heart of the Sultan's daughter on a trip to Persia. The prince is thrown into the palace dungeons when the Sultan's evil vizier Jaffar the wizard seizes power. However, he escapes from the dungeons, and ascends the palace. At one point, the prince inadvertently creates a doppelganger of himself by jumping through a magical mirror, but they become one again later on. When the prince reaches the top of the tower, he defeats Jaffar and saves the princess. He is offered anything he wants by the Sultan of Persia as a reward for saving the kingdom. The prince requests to marry the princess, and becomes the prince of Persia.
In Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame, the prince approaches the princess one morning, but an impostor posing as the prince is already there. The guards are ordered to arrest the prince, who leaps through a window and escapes Persia on a merchant ship. While on the vessel, the prince dreams of a mysterious woman who asks him to seek her. The prince awakens on an island after the impostor destroys the ship. He makes his way back to Persia, the woman from his dream reappearing to explain that Persia was once his father's kingdom, and the prince was the only one who survived an onslaught. The prince finds a blue flame in a temple, and uses the shadow doppelganger of himself from the previous game to obtain it. The prince then returns to Persia and vanquishes Jaffar with the flame.
In Prince of Persia 3D, the prince is ambushed at a party, and is once again thrown into the dungeons, but he escapes. He then witnesses the Sultan of Persia's demise at the hands of Assan, the Sultan's villainous younger brother. The prince pursues and defeats Rugnor, Assan's son, and saves the princess.
A different prince character appears as the main protagonist in the Sands of Time series, consisting of the original game, The Sands of Time, and its sequels Warrior Within, Battles of Prince of Persia, The Two Thrones, The Forgotten Sands and the Wii edition which had an alternative story. While his father's army is laying siege to the palace of an Indian Maharajah, the prince collects an artifact called the Dagger of Time, soon discovering it can manipulate time. In the kingdom of Azad, the prince is deceived by the vizier of the Maharajah into using the Dagger of Time to unlock a giant hourglass, which releases the Sands of Time. The sands ravage Azad, but the prince pursues and catches up with Farah, the Maharajah's daughter who had been captured as a slave. He learns that using the Dagger of Time to pierce the hourglass will lock the sands away once more. During their adventures, Farah and the prince begin to fall in love, but he still mistrusts her and that eventually leads to her death. When the prince finally reseals the sands, refusing the vizier's offer of power and immortality, he is transported to the time before the attack. He returns the Dagger of Time to Farah, killing the vizier in the process and exposing his treason.
In the years that follow, he and his brother Malik go on a new campaign and come across a new store of the sands, unleashing the erroneously-titled "Solomon's Army", an army of sand monsters and demons, led by the Ifrit Ratash, who hated humans and Djinn existing in peace and vowed to kill the ancient king. The prince finds an ally in the form of Razia, a queen of the Marid, who helped imprison the army. During the ensuing battles, Ratash possesses Malik and the Prince is forced to kill Malik with a mystical sword found in an ancient Djinn city, coupled with the magical power of Razia. This destroys Ratash permanently and vanquishes the army, with the Prince keeping his half of the army's ancient seal as a keepsake. This latest use of the sands prompts the arrival of a dark entity called the Dahaka, a creature who repairs the timeline and must kill the prince because of his repeated interference. His only attempt to face it has the prince releasing dark spirits called the Daevas, so he is forced to re-imprison them and go on the run from the Dahaka. During this period, the prince gradually becomes world-worn and more prone to violence.
This is potentially explained by the plot of the Wii game which is set sometime later and involves the Prince setting off on a quest to find a Kingdom to rule. The Prince is lead by a Djinn called Zahra to the kingdom of Izdahar deep in the desert of Persia and attempts to rid the kingdom of the venomous Haoma plant that is choking it's life. He succeeds in freeing it from the curse, but only after he has lost everything he has and everything he was looking to gain. Izdahar collapses into the sands, taking all with it except the Prince himself. Worn and tired, he wanders into the desert a crushed and broken man, with the memories of the kingdom, it's princess, and Zahra all weighing heavily on his heart.
Finally, seven years later, he finds out that if he can travel to the Island of Time and confront its empress, the creation of the sands can be averted and the Dahaka will be shaken off for good. During his voyage, his ship is attacked and destroyed by the empress' guardian Shahdee. Against all odds, the prince reaches the island and finds himself transported to the time when the sands were created. Eventually, he meets and kills Shahdee, saving a mysterious woman called Kaileena. As events transpire, Kaileena is revealed to be the empress and she is determined to kill the prince to avoid her prophesied death, which would create the sands. The prince eventually kills the empress, unwittingly creating the Sands of Time and becoming what he describes as "the architect of [his] own destruction". But, with the help of an artifact called the Mask of the Wraith, he returns and manages to force Kaileena into his present, hoping that doing so will allow the timeline to proceed as predicted, but spare him from the Dahaka's fury. The Dahaka, however, arrives again, this time for Kaileena, who has become an anomaly in the restructured timeline. The prince, using a powerful weapon called the Water Sword, finally destroys the Dahaka and returns with Kaileena to Babylon, seemingly beginning a relationship with her.
When they arrive at Babylon, they find it in flames. The reason soon becomes apparent: in erasing the creation of the sands, he has reversed all the events of the first game, meaning the vizier is alive and determined to use Kaileena and the Dagger of Time to gain immortality. He achieves this, killing Kaileena and transforming his army with the sands. The sands also affect the prince (because he discarded his protective amulet after his departure from the Island of Time, thinking it of no more use), infecting him and splitting his mind, manifesting a dark prince. These two sides of him are in constant conflict, with the prince often transforming into a Sand Monster hybrid until he is soaked in water. On top of that, he encounters Farah again, who now has no memory of him. The two work together and finally get to the vizier, with the prince suppressing his dark side when he finds his father's body and decides to accept his mistakes and their consequences. After battling him, the prince stabs the vizier with the Dagger of Time, undoing the spell which gave him his power. In doing this, he releases Kaileena, who takes the Dagger and the sands from the world. The dark prince makes a final attack, but with Farah's help, the prince overcomes his dark side and begins his relationship with her anew.
Another prince appears as the protagonist in the 2008 reboot of the franchise, Prince of Persia and its Nintendo DS spin-off Prince of Persia: The Fallen King. In the beginning of the game, the prince gets lost in a sandstorm and falls into a valley where he encounters Elika. The prince soon aids Elika in her quest to contain the dark god Ahriman in the Tree of Life at the center of the valley. They ultimately fail, but make every effort to lock Ahriman back into the tree. They succeed at this, but Elika dies. The prince, mirroring the actions of Elika's father which originally released Ahriman, decides to bring Elika back to life, freeing the dark god once again. Ahriman chases them to an underground palace, where Elika ultimately abandons the prince in search of her people.
The spin-off has the prince fighting against a strange new evil created by Ahriman's corruption in the King of New Dawn. He is aided by Zan, a strange magus who turns out to be the King's other half. With the help of a mysterious being known as the Ancestor, the King of New Dawn is killed, with Zan dying with him, and the Corruption is purged from the kingdom. The Ancestor leaves the prince with a message of hope, saying that a new ally and an inner power would be found.
In other media
Dastan, portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal, is the protagonist of the 2010 film Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, as well as its prequel tie-in comic book series Prince of Persia: Before the Sandstorm by Jordan Mechner and Todd McFarlane. In the film, he is a commoner adopted by King Sharaman as his son and a prince of Persia along with his two adoptive brothers, Tus and Garsiv. Taking part in the capture of Alamut, he comes into possession of the Dagger of Time, and meets for the first time Tamina, princess of Alamut and the Dagger's guardian. Framed for the king's murder by his adoptive uncle Nizam, Dastan escapes with Tamina, eventually finding out that Nizam engineered the attack on Alamut to gain both the Dagger and the Sandglass (the film equivalent of the hourglass) and use their combined power to change a past event in the life of Sharaman and make himself king. But doing this would trigger a power within the sands that would destroy the world. Eventually, after defending themselves from Hassassin attacks and making their way to the Sandglass chambers beneath Alamut, Tamina, who has grown to love the prince, sacrifices herself so that Dastan can reach Nizam and stop him. Dastan succeeds and activates the full power of the Dagger, reversing time to before the siege of Alamut. He exposes Nizam (causing the man's death at the hands of one of Dastan's adoptive brothers) and marries Tamina as a good will pact. At the very end of the film, Dastan hints at his true knowledge of the Dagger to Tamina and tells her that he looks forward to their future together.
In the 2008's Prince of Persia: The Graphic Novel, which tells an original story unrelated to neither the games or the movie, there are two prince characters, named Guiv and Ferdos. In Guiv's time (9th century), his wicked brother Layth wants to kill him and gain the throne. In Ferdos's time (13th century), the daughter of the ruling overlords, Shirin, has run away in disguise from the decadent and corrupt court, only to be met by Ferdos. All the characters are drawn to the same ruined citadel by a magical bird called Tulen and brought together by magic, so they can set their respective eras right.
Critical reaction to the prince has varied over the years, reaching various highs and lows. These criticisms came to the fore during the Sands of Time trilogy. The portrayal of the prince in The Sands of Time was generally well received, while his dark transformation in Warrior Within became one of the game's main failing points for both fans and critics, along with its overly-stylized female non-player characters and numerous bugs. The prince from the final part of the trilogy, The Two Thrones, came between the previous two versions in terms of reviews, gaining a more mixed reception. The prince from the 2008 reboot was generally poorly received. In 2012, GamesRadar ranked the character in his various incarnations as the 27th "most memorable, influential, and badass" protagonist in games, commenting: "The original and best modern prince came in the form of the Sands of Time 's foppish, arrogant storyteller, a charmingly conceited chap who proved that showboating heroism and borderline camp need not be mutually exclusive long before Jack Sparrow did. His angsty Warrior Within incarnation had a certain naïve charm, and was at least a more capable combatant, and his calmer Twin Thrones form reconciled both a newfound maturity." Empire also included Prince on their list of the 50 greatest video game characters, ranking him as 35th.
GamesRadar gave the prince the title of "Mister 2003" in their article on the sexiest new characters of the decade, describing his appearance as "rich in swarthy, Mediterranean good looks". His Prince of Persia: Warrior Within incarnation was also cited by GamesRadar as an example of the "brooding pretty boy" among the "lazy character clichés" in video games. They also included him in a list of characters they knew less about, citing how he grew from a character with no personality or dialogue into someone contemptible as well as possibly being a "diagnosed schizophrenic". However, they stated that the prince found in the Prince of Persia reboot in 2008 was even worse, describing him as a "cocky fratboy type who spouted lame one-liners, dressed like a Final Fantasy reject." GameDaily listed his transformation into a "dark character" as one of the prince's worst moments, describing him in The Sands of Time as a likable character, while his change in Warrior Within was a change for the worst, turning off fans as well as original series creator Jordan Mechner. In an article about the sexuality of Prince of Persia, Gamasutra editor Tom Cross stated that he finds the rejection of both the game and its protagonist incomprehensible. He compared Uncharted protagonist Nathan Drake to the prince, stating that it was not just because he was voiced by Nolan North, but also because the sexual tension that Nathan Drake holds reminds him of the prince. He addressed the criticism of his voice, stating that people found it annoying and improper for him to sound so much like a Han Solo-type character considering the video game is located in the Middle East. Cross found this criticism unfair, arguing that no one criticized female protagonist Elika's North American accent and added that the prince was a harder character to like than Nathan Drake, due to him being an "unrepentant jerk" instead of a "lovable jerk," but that merely makes him a harder sell.
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- Prince: So, this is the thanks I get for saving your life. / Farah: You don't understand. I need that dagger to undo.. / Prince: To undo what I have done. Truly you must think I am a fool / Farah:You are right to be cautious, but fight as bravely as you may, you cannot defeat this enemy. [...] I have heard it said that you are kind, as well as brave. Please believe me. - Ubisoft Montreal (2005). "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time". Ubisoft.
- Prince: Live forever? When those I loved are dead and I to blame?! I choose death. - Ubisoft Montreal (2004). "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time". Microsoft.
- Razia: Do you know what your brother has unleashed? That army did not belong to King Solomon - it was sent to destroy him. The Army was formed from the desert sand itself. It is a disease. The more sand it touches, the more soldiers it will create. If you do not trap it quickly, it will cover the world. - Ubisoft Montreal (2004). "Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands". Microsoft.
- Prince: I am the architect of my own destruction. [...] In my quest to destroy the Sands of Time, I have been the one to create them. - Ubisoft Montreal (2004). "Prince of Persia: Warrior Within". Microsoft.
- Prince: What if Kaileena didn't die in the past, but in the present. The Sands would be created, but the Maharaja would fail to find them. They'd never be brought to his palace and I would never release them! The Dahaka would have no business with me! My goal is clear then: use the Mask to force Kaileena into the present where I can kill her. It's simple, or sounds simple. - Ubisoft Montreal (2004). "Prince of Persia: Warrior Within". Microsoft.
- Prince: You are right; I have been like a child, naive and arrogant, always rushing to undo my mistakes, never facing the consequences of my actions. No more. I accept what I have done and all that it implies. - Ubisoft Montreal (2005). "Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones". Ubisoft.
- Farah: Wake up. Wake up! / Prince: Farah? / Farah: Are you alright? / Prince:I think... I think it's finally over. - Ubisoft Montreal (2005). "Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones". Ubisoft.
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