With Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands on Wii, Ubisoft managed to resist the temptation to port over the Xbox 360/PS3 game and develop the game uniquely for the Nintendo console instead. This isn't a cut down port of the game that's available on Xbox 360 and PS3, but a version made to make the most of the platform. With ideas all of its own and some impressive production values, this Wii exclusive might well be the best version of Forgotten Sands you can buy.
The Forgotten Sands hardly has the most inventive storyline ever to grace a video game, but it sets up a platforming adventure that will span the course of at least 12 hours, with plenty of combat and puzzles thrown in for good measure. After buying a genie at a market, the prince is granted three things: power over death, a magnificent kingdom, and the love of a beautiful princess. Disappointingly for the prince, the kingdom is in ruin, and an ancient blade, plunged into a monster which then escapes, holds the key to returning it to its former glory.
Whereas the Xbox 360 and PS3 game featured some pretty complicated water-freezing puzzles and the ability to bring back fallen pieces of the palace, this Wii game has three abilities all of its own. First up are magical plates which can be activated by pointing at them with your Wii Remote and then used as grapple points. Later on these can be placed wherever you please, allowing the prince to create his own paths along the walls of the dilapidated palace. Second up are whirlwinds of sand which raise the prince into the air, letting him reach areas that were seemingly out of reach or skip past traps by jumping straight over them.
Towards the end of the game you gain the ability to encase the prince in a floating sphere, and in combination with the other two abilities you get the sense that you can approach getting from A to B however you like. In reality the end areas have been created in a way that force you to use these abilities, so there's not as much freedom as you might think, but the illusion is still there and works extremely well. There's not quite the same degree of finger gymnastics required as in the next-gen console version, but the challenge is still one that casual gamers might baulk at.
Sadly, just as is the case with Forgotten Sands on Xbox 360 and PS3, combat plays a major part in the campaign, and is poor, but for different reasons. You don't have the large-scale fights that you get in those games, with encounters usually limited to a handful of foes, and your range of attacks seems more varied, but you have to perform them all using gestures with the Wii Remote and Nunchuck.
Even though you'll gain lots of attacks, you'll end up simply thrusting the Nunchuck and waving the Wii Remote until enemies die. Enemies are also extremely dumb, often refusing to move until you approach them. This can lead to situations where they're clearly stood in the path of traps, refusing to move and then wiped off the face of the game world as a spinning blade cuts them to pieces.
It's always hard to tell just how good Wii games look, but Forgotten Sands is definitely one of the prettier titles I've played on Nintendo's console. The game world is large, enemies are nicely modelled and the lighting is excellent - even if it has that heavy bloom look that was all the rage during the PS2 era. The camera can get a bid lost at times, but for the most part it does its job, giving you the best view of the action.
Audio work is more mixed, with an excellent score being accompanied by some rather out of place voice work for the Prince and his genie companion. The addition of a narrator is a nice touch, but the voices just seem slightly off, which isn't helped by the Prince's odd facial expressions and bizarre, scary eyes.
The sheer number of unlockables and nods to the series' history round off a really impressive package. As well as a number of areas in the main game that are played on a 2D plain just as the original Prince of Persia was, the classic 16-bit version of the game can be unlocked, there are numerous secret costumes and challenge modes. In all it's a lot better than the meagre set of bonus content included in the Xbox 360 and PS3 game.
It really isn't often that a Wii version of a multi-platform title comes out on top, but that's exactly what's happened with The Forgotten Sands. While the Wii game still has its fair share of problems, it's one of the best action adventure titles the console has seen. Get over the waggle-heavy combat and you've got a thoroughly enjoyable romp through an often gorgeous game world, complete with some really clever gameplay mechanics.