The Game Boy Advance version of this game is, for obvious reasons, quite a bit different than the PC and console versions. On the surface, it seems like just another 2D platformer - hell, the sprite of your character even looks very much like the one of Aladdin in the eponymous Sega Genesis game. Nonetheless, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a quite engaging game - probably among the best of its genre. In fact, were it not for a few irritating bugs and gameplay quirks, I'd say that this game is about as perfect as a platformer can get.

Let's start with the good, though. The graphics are superb for a handheld; the detail in both the backgrounds and the sprites is incredible considering the relatively low resolution of the GBA. The background music is not only beautiful, but wonderfully atmospheric; I don't know how culturally accurate it is (probably not at all), but it certainly conjures up images of Persia.

The gameplay and controls, too, are excellent (with a couple exceptions that I'll get into later). While you have only one type of attack, there are a variety of moves and abilities you gain as the game progresses: Wall-walking, projectile absorption, double-jumping, and many others. You can use the Dagger of Time to stop you from falling to your doom or to an opposing blade (though this ability is far from unlimited), slow down traps and enemies, or stop time itself. There are also some minor RPG elements to the game; killing and draining the sand out of enemy "Sand Persians" (People who've been transformed by the Sands of Time) gives you experience which allows you to "level up", each time increasing your maximum health, attack damage, and resistance to damage. The best part of the gameplay, however, is the variety and difficulty of the enemies you face. This isn't your standard platformer where you just run through slashing or shooting as quick as you can; all the enemies in Prince of Persia (with the exception of a couple one-hit kill types) require a certain measure of tactics - you have to figure out what weaknesses the various enemies have, and how you can use them to your advantage - not always an easy task.

Perhaps most importantly, the game is rather long without being exceptionally repetitive - I believe I spent at least 40 hours total (though it would have been less if I had gotten through more of the areas on the first try), and while I sometimes stopped out of frustration with a room or boss, I never quit out of boredom. Not bad for thirty bucks.

Additionally, if you have a GameCube and its version of this game, you can link the two together for extra content. Extra levels appear in the GBA version when three switches have been hit in the GameCube version; if you hit the special switches in the former, you unlock a copy of the original Prince of Persia game on the GameCube. The simple act of linking the two games gives players in each "automatic health regeneration" (or as I like to call it, a "mutant healing factor").

So what's bad in this game? Mostly little things. There are quite a few bugs in the game, and this being a GBA Game Pak and not a PC or console game, there's no way to patch them. For the most part they're harmless animation glitches and sound problems (sometimes a sound effect that's supposed to occur only once will continue until you leave the room, and there are times when the music will simply go away for no reason), but there's at least one which can cause some gameplay problems: when dropping down from a sheer cliff, if there's empty space on the other side of the wall, you will sometimes begin to "ooze" through the wall upon hitting the ground, ending up in a completely different part of the room. (The first time this happened to me, I was rewarded with a face full of whip.)

There are a couple other factors which, while not so bad as to make the game unenjoyable, can be somewhat irritating. Perhaps the biggest of these is the extremely inaccurate health meter: At times you can have as little as a tenth of your maximum possible hit points (which are shown in numerical form in the Pause menu), and yet the health meter will show you as having a full half of your hit points. There's also the invisibility sand (or whatever it's supposed to be) which has to be used in order to get through certain areas; not only does it make you invisible to the traps, but the actual character is all-but-invisible to the player! (Whether or not you can see the Prince when he's "invisible" seems to depend solely on the background colors of the room - in darker rooms, it's pretty much impossible to see what you're doing.) Disappointingly, there's really no way to block or defend yourself from attacks (except from projectiles), and Farah's presence is very minimal (she seems to exist at all only to make it easier for you to get killed).

However, these deficiencies are pretty easy to overlook; they may not even bother many people. So with that said, I highly recommend this game to all GBA owners; it's well worth the money.