Video Games

How Ubisoft Is Bringing Prince of Persia Back as an Anime-Like Metroidvania

The brand new Prince of Persia was fully unveiled at this year’s Ubisoft Forward, and it’s literally in a whole other dimension than the popular Sands of Time game. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, made by Rayman developer, is his 2D game that revisits the series’ platformer roots.

To learn more about this unexpected return, we spoke with three Ubisoft Montpellier developers about how they’re rebooting Prince of Persia as an anime-inspired Metroidvania. I was.

“At Ubsioft Montpellier, of course, we have experience with 2D games with Rayman,” world director Christophe Pic says of the decision to return to 2D with The Lost Crown. “So, first of all, it was [that] We had experience, so it was natural to make choices for the match. I also wanted to go back to the original Prince of Persia. Because it fits our structure and controls and gameplay too. “

“But it’s also 3D,” he points out. Since the world is built in 3D space when viewed from a 2D perspective, the camera can take full advantage of that. “So when you have dynamic combat and you have certain combos, sometimes you control the camera and have a certain point of view. [where the camera moves inside the game world]. So we want to keep it immersive, yet of course modern. ”

When these special camera moves are triggered, the world switches color palettes from stylish yet traditional Middle Eastern swatches to bold, vibrant anime-inspired designs.

“We love contemporary pop culture and we love anime,” says art director Jean-Christophe Alessandri. “We love comics and superheroes, and this is really an act of love for our fans. We’re fans, so we wanted to bring that into the world of Prince of Persia.”

“I would say our own formula is to take strong inspiration and references from mythical Persia and lesser-known histories,” he says. “But it’s so rich and so inspiring.” [we] I combined it with more contemporary inspirations and references. ”

It’s not just visuals that combine ideas from different genres. The gameplay pays homage to both the original 1989 Prince of Persia and the popular Sons of Time trilogy, blending those elements with the core concepts of Metroidvania games.

“We tried to go back to the roots of the series,” explains Mounir Radhi, Game Director of The Lost Crown. “Because there are a lot of signs, trap sequences, movements, etc. Don’t forget what the 3D episode has built, because it’s very important to respect each episode.”

A very important thing in this kind of structure is to empower the player.

“Players who played the original game will find the following in some areas.” [in The Lost Crown with] The big palaces, the squares, the lovely landscapes, it’s all about the Arabian Nights atmosphere,” says Pick. “But like in the original Prince of Persia, it can be difficult to predict, such as areas with lots of traps, or small corridors with traps. There are many sequences of

For the Metroidvania elements, Ubisoft wanted to incorporate all the classic elements of the genre: interconnected maps, challenging combat, and powers that open up new opportunities.

“Our aim was to capture this feeling of isolation,” says Radhi. “Have a black box and be smart.”

Ubisoft used the term “black box” during the development of the Assassin’s Creed series. This refers to a mission structure, first seen in Unity, that allows assassinations to be approached in several different ways. Therefore, The Lost Crown seems to aim to allow players to resolve situations in a variety of ways.

“Lots of rewards and shortcuts to tease players” [with] It’s about coming back with new abilities,” Pick says of the Metroidvania structure. “What’s very important about this kind of structure is empowering the player. It’s also about having the ability to easily go through battles and access previously inaccessible treasure when they return.” It’s very important.”

In its traditional form, the Prince of Persia has the power to manipulate time. For example, you can create a shadow marker and rewind to it so you can escape danger at the last minute. Alternatively, you can speed up and run through the dangers. But while these are cool, they are intentionally very different from the thyme sand powers you may remember.

“We have a time theme, but this is not a prequel,” says Radhi. “Of course, we use ideas and signatures because as developers, when we start thinking about this new chapter, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, we can try to twist all of this. Because it was very important, so it’s kind of a simple idea, imagine the familiar powers of time from the trilogy are back, but this time they’re out of your hands They will fall into the hands of the chief adversary.”

It’s unclear at this time how many powers will be available beyond Shadow and Dash, but Piku promises there will be at least one more that could change your approach to just about anything.

“I don’t want to spoil it, but unlocking certain abilities later in the game allows for a completely different approach to combat, puzzles, and everything else,” he says. “It’s a combination of abilities that gives players a lot of creativity.”

The Lost Crown is in many ways a traditional Metroidvania, but Ubisoft Montpellier decided against the genre’s typical light-touch approach to storytelling. As well as 2D dialogue sequences, you can expect 3D animated cutscenes and an obsession with character development. It all starts with the protagonist, Sargon, a member of the superhero-like Immortals. So, surprisingly, you don’t play as the Persian prince himself. Instead, you are looking for him.

We wanted to play as Vegeta instead of, say, Goku.

“You know, when you have to deal with this Prince of Persia, it’s very easy to make the same recipe,” Rady says. “And it’s the same with any idea we come up with. We talked about simple ideas. I was like, ‘This time I’m not playing a prince.’ You are not alone, you are part of a group. The reason we did that was to create a closer connection with the players this time. I don’t think our audience has that many princes, but we wanted to make sure all players felt a connection with Sargon. And that was very important in creating a story that allowed players to grow with Sargon. This is a coming-of-age story.

“We got a lot of inspiration from anime,” he explains. “We wanted to play as Vegeta, not as, say, Goku. We wanted this because, you know, it was important for him to grow through his journey. can’t be…he’s a prince, of course!But we wanted someone more rough.We took a lot of inspiration from Miyamoto Musashi’s history because this is what Sargon means to be ‘strong’. It’s a journey to understand what it means. What does it take to become strong? 』

Sargon is effectively an anime hero, so it was important to convey his powers through the game’s visuals. So Ubisoft his Montpellier researched numerous art forms, from anime to comics to street art, to get an idea of ​​what Sargon would look like when fighting.

“When the main character Sargon unleashes his superpower, we wanted to give it an epic feel by creating an impactful image,” says Alessandri. “So we use vibrant colors, modern patterns, lines, bold colors, and more to create memorable moments for our players.”

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is set to release next January 18th on Switch, PlayStation, Xbox consoles, Amazon Luna and PC. For more on The Return of the Prince, check out our hands-on preview. Everything else featured in Ubisoft Forward can be found here.

Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Features Editor.

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