Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

After the debacle of Prince of Persia 3D, the swashbuckling action-adventure series made a remarkable return in 2003 with Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Developed by Ubisoft Montréal, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was a fresh take on the series with innovative gameplay, action-packed platforming, and a very compelling Arabian Nights story.

Prince of Persia is a legendary video game franchise that’s suffered from a large share of misfortunes. From the perspective of fans, one of the greatest misfortune is the fact that they’ve been waiting for a new Prince of Persia game for more than ten years. To add insult to injury, leaked footage of Prince of Persia Redemption showed us just a hint of what a modern PoP game could be like, but that project has long been abandoned.

However, a remake of The Sands of Time was announced in 2020, giving hope to the fans.

Initially, the remake was to be handled by Ubisoft’s Pune and Mumbai studios in India, with an early 2021 release date. Based on the quality of the announcement trailer, it seemed like the remake was pretty deep in development, and that we’d start seeing a buildup in promotional momentum as Ubisoft prepared for the 2021 launch.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Unfortunately, the game’s visual style did not go over well with the PoP fan base. The backlash on Twitter was immense, and comments on the trailer on YouTube were overwhelmingly negative. Some fans even said that the original 2003 version was far better than this remake attempt. It seems that after almost two decades, the fans expected a lot better. I admit, I agree with most of their views — if not all of them.

Following the backlash, Ubisoft’s Indian studios responded quickly with the claim that they have heard the fans’ feedback, and that the game release has been pushed back to ensure that fans are happy with the product. The release date moved from January of 2021 to March of 2021.

A few months later, just as we were thinking we would have a great product, we received another announcement from Ubisoft that the game has been delayed indefinitely.

The most recent news on this much-awaited remake is that Ubisoft Pune and Ubisoft Mumbai studios are no longer working on the game, which has moved over to Ubisoft Montréal. We still don’t have a new release date, but it’s now become clear that the game won’t be out by the end of the 2023 Fiscal Year.

Sands of Time

In my opinion, It was fortunate that The Sands of Time received backlash on its first look. Ubisoft has now got ample time to take swift and appropriate actions. They can rectify their mistakes. It has been nearly two years since the announcement, and I suspect that the development team is probably making the remake from scratch.

Leaving this remake up to Ubisoft Pune and Ubisoft Mumbai was the wrong decision in the first place. Ubisoft Montréal was the pioneer of the 2003 version, and they even consulted with series creator Jordan Mechner to make sure they did it properly (Mechner would end up overseeing the game’s story). I would argue that ever since Ubisoft acquired the Prince of Persia IP, there has been no better development team than Ubisoft Montréal.

That is not to say that subsidiary studios cannot work on a previously established triple-A project, but If we go back in history, Ubisoft India (A.K.A. Ubisoft Pune) did work on the classic Prince of Persia: The Shadow and the Flame for iOS, which is a remake of Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame. The original Prince of Persia 2 is still a highly lauded action-adventure game in the retro category, but the remake fell short of expectations in terms of the gameplay and overall scope. Had that remake been better handled, it could have opened doors for future Prince of Persia projects. In my opinion, it was a huge lost opportunity.

Today, is there anyone who talks about that remake? Hardly ever. Whenever people get a chance to talk about The Shadow and the Flame, they tend to remember the original 2D version rather than the 2013 remake.

With that in mind, the decision to hand over something as important as the Sands of Time remake to Ubisoft Pune was not the right move in the first place. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was Ubisoft Montréal’s baby, and now the baby is back in its cradle.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Like every other hardcore Prince of Persia fan, I am disappointed by not having an all-new Prince of Persia game with an all-new storyline and fresh levels. Regardless, this remake is like a cool breeze, and it is better than having nothing at all.

I should say that, in my personal opinion, the first trailer for the Sands of Time remake was actually not that bad, but it was not amazing either, considering the technological day and age we are living in. It should have been a little more refined in terms of graphics and character models.

And I’m hoping Ubisoft Montréal will add some extra gameplay into the initial levels while staying true to the original game, similar to what Capcom did with the opening sequence of the Resident Evil 2 remake.

From a commercial standpoint, this remake is important because it’s a huge opportunity to revive this legendary franchise. Who knows? Maybe this remake turns out so big that it sets the stage for a brand-new Prince of Persia title. Oh, I am dreaming.

The original Sands of Time launched to critical acclaim, but it didn’t see blockbuster sales. With the remake, the game will have access to a larger audience. Fans of the original game will most likely want to play the remake, and then there’s a new generation of kids who missed out on the original who might discover it for the first time.

At the end of the day, we’ll have to wait to see how this remake turns out in terms of scope and overall value. With Ubisoft Montréal at the helm, they now have everything they need to steer this ship to success.

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