Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is the first critical darling of 2024. In my own four-and-a-half star review, I call Ubisoft’s new game “a monumental achievement in approachable, seamless Metroidvania design.” I definitely recommend you pick that game up once it launches on January 18. And I think that it’s a fantastic fit for Nintendo Switch in particular.
If you’ve already played through The Lost Crown’s demo several times and are wondering what else you can play to whet your appetite for Ubisoft’s latest, then I recommend checking out these games on the Nintendo eShop.
The Lost Crown is a Metroidvania, so it’s helpful to understand why the genre’s name partially honors this franchise. Developed by Mercury Steam and released in 2021, Metroid Dread was the first original 2D Metroid game in almost two decades. The formula didn’t lose any of its luster during that time. Dread is another tightly designed platformer that plays to the genre’s strengths. It offers a satisfying feeling of progression with each new room or ability discovered, alongside eerie worldbuilding.
Metroid Dread lives up to its name, as this is one of the tensest games Nintendo has ever released. Encounters with enemy E.M.M.I. robots are particularly nerve-racking, as those enemies can easily kill Samus and only get smarter throughout the adventure. Most of the time, you’re the most powerful being in a room in The Lost Crown; the opposite is true for much of Metroid Dread. As a result, that means the games pair together quite nicely. Once you recognize that The Lost Crown can stand toe-to-toe with a Metroid game, it’ll give you a better sense of just how well-crafted this new Prince of Persia game is.
If you want to better understand the historical context of how the Prince of Persia franchise came to be, you should check out The Making of Karateka. Jordan Mechner is the creator of the Prince of Persia, and this interactive documentary thoroughly delves into the creation of Karateka, a game Mechner made earlier that heavily influenced the series. Because The Lost Crown is a throwback to the franchise’s 2D era, gaining an understanding of what led up to the creation of Prince of Persia should give you a better appreciation for everything like it that has come after.
Regardless of the Prince of Persia connection, this is also an incredibly innovative “remaster,” expertly capturing the cultural impact of a classic by emulating it for modern consoles. It’s a museum exhibit come to life as an interactive game, and you’ll never look at remastered collections the same again after playing The Making of Karateka. It flew under the radar in 2023, but if you’re a fan of gaming history, play it prior to The Lost Crown.
I recommend checking out Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition so you can see the roots of The Lost Crown‘s developer, Ubisoft Montpellier. For the last decade, this team has been relegated to mobile games like Rayman Mini and Valiant Hearts: Coming Home, but it’s actually the team behind Ubisoft’s classic PC and console platformers. The most recent of these is Rayman Legends, which initially launched in 2013 before being remastered for Nintendo Switch in 2017. By going back and playing this one, you’ll understand why The Lost Crown feels so great to play. This is a team that knows how to refine their platforming mechanics and controls into a buttery smooth state, and Rayman Legends also looks beautiful thanks to its utilization of the gorgeous 2D UbiArt engine.
From the more standard platforming stages to musical levels, Rayman Legends is a joy to play. Unlike The Lost Crown, Rayman Legends also supports co-op, so you can share the experience with a friend. It’ll give you a better understanding of the talent behind the games at Ubisoft Montpellier, as well as an ever greater appreciation for the fact that Ubisoft finally let that team make another 2D console platformer. The results are fantastic, so I hope it gets another stab at working on Rayman or Prince of Persia in the future.
Most of the time, platforming in The Lost Crown isn’t too difficult; the adventure even features a Platforming Assist accessibility option that allows players to skip the more difficult story-required platforming challenges. That feature doesn’t apply to certain side areas though, and that’s where some of the game’s most exhilarating platforming obstacle courses are hidden. When Ubisoft’s new Prince of Persia is shining in these moments, it’s reminiscent of the darling indie Celeste. Released in 2018, Celeste is about the titular character’s journey to reach the summit of a mountain.
Underneath that simple premise is a story addressing relatable topics like anxiety, depression, and identity. That alone is worth experiencing, but Celeste also offers one of the most enthralling 2D platformer experiences of the last decade. With just an air dash and jump, Celeste gets the most out of the character’s ability set with some really challenging, yet captivating level design. You’ll die often, but respawn quickly and often not too far away. If you play Celeste, you’ll already be familiar with how to best use some of Sargon’s abilities, like the air dash, in The Lost Crown, and you’ll have a better idea of how to obtain Xerxes collectibles, as that process is similar to obtaining Strawberries in Celeste.
Finally, Hollow Knight is yet another Metroidvania I’d recommend you check out. It exemplifies the differences between the tense tone and worldbuilding of Metroid Dread and the Souls-inspired elements and combat of The Lost Crown. It excels at both, which makes this 2017 indie yet another Metroidvania genre great. The Lost Crown’s amulet system also takes inspiration from the charm system in Hollow Knight. Players can equip these to expand their skill set and gain minor, yet helpful new abilities.
Hollow Knight is on the more difficult end of the spectrum for Metroidvania games, but The Lost Crown might draw even more inspiration from it than Metroid Dread. As such, you can’t go wrong playing Hollow Knight before The Lost Crown. There’s also a very good chance its highly anticipated sequel, Hollow Knight Silksong, could drop this year, so that should offer yet another reason to finally play this indie classic.
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