Character Background: The Prince of Persia is not a single character, but rather a group of eponymous princes that players take control of in order to navigate through a magical world inspired by Middle Eastern folklore. Every iteration of the Prince is known for his fluid motion, extreme agility, and penchant for swordplay. Perhaps the most famous version of the Prince, the one that made his debut in 2003’s The Sands of Time, is also known for his ability to control the flow of time itself through the use of a mystical dagger.
That logo is definitely in the background. What’s he trying to jump over here?
The Prince of Persia franchise, debuting in 1989, consists of over a dozen titles that have sold over 20 million copies combined. Originally developed by Brøderbund, the rights to the game were acquired by Ubisoft in 2001. The 2D entries into the series pioneered a genre known as “cinematic platformers.” Games in this genre are characterized by the realistic movements of their protagonists (often through the use of rotoscoping techniques.) Other well known cinematic platformers include Oddworld, Blackthorne, and Flashback.
Nothing quite like wall running and precision platforming while using that GameCube Analogue stick.
Reasons for inclusion: As mentioned in the Rayman article, Ubisoft and Nintendo have a long history as collaborators. Ubisoft is arguably Nintendo’s strongest source of Western third party support, and the Prince himself has a strong Nintendo legacy of his own. The first game in the series, simply titled Prince of Persia, was originally released on the Amiiga but quickly found its way onto both the NES and SNES. Every main line entry into the franchise since then, with the exception of 2010’s Prince of Persia reboot and 1999’s Prince of Persia 3D, has appeared on a Nintendo home console. In addition to this, the franchise has also released several games as hardware exclusives on Nintendo handhelds.
As a brand, Prince of Persia is a very well known commodity. The game series was adapted into a major motion picture by Walt Disney Pictures in 2010. The film set out to be the “next Pirates of the Caribbean,” but unfortunately fell far short of that lofty goal. The film was a critical failure (it currently sits at a 36% “rotten” rating on RottenTomatos.com,) but it did manage to earn a worldwide gross of $335,154,643. That number is enough to make the Prince of Persia the highest grossing video game adaptation of all time. The commercial success of the movie, as well as the wide variety of movie merchandise and tie-ins created for it, give the Prince a notoriety far beyond that of most video game characters.
You know who doesn’t have his own Lego set? Sonic. +1 to the Prince.
Reasons for exclusion: Many of the general issues that affect Rayman’s chances also adversely affect the Prince. Chief among them is the somewhat strained relationship between Ubisoft and Nintendo. Still, the two companies remain on friendly terms and there is no reason to think that a deal could not be worked out if the demand is there. The other main point is that the Prince is a character created by a Western game studio. The only character of this type to make it into Smash as of yet is Diddy Kong.
16-Bit Prince looks like Toad. If that doesn’t make Nintendo fans want him, I don’t know what will.
The Prince himself is also known to use realistic weaponry, such as daggers and swords, in his game. This is likely not a huge issue. Many of the characters that are already playable in the Smash Bros. series are sword users, and his daggers are far removed from most real world knives due to their ornate design.
The series has largely been supplanted by Assassin’s Creed in recent years, another game that focuses on an agile protagonist with many Middle Eastern themes. These games are still quite different from the Prince’s games, though, and Ubisoft has expressed interest in revisiting the Prince of Persia franchise in the future.
What is Smash Bros. without music? Here are a few tracks you can look forward to if the Prince of Persia makes it in.