Prince of Persia and Karateka, were two of the best action games of their era. Why? Because they gave us an inkling of what real, fluid graphical motion would look like in a few years’ time and, more important, were pretty much amazing if you were used to the Atari 2600 and River Raid. I remember playing Karateka before school at age ten, chopping my way through enemies on my way to save my sweetie and then, a few years later, playing PoP. Both were amazing.
Why? Because he created smooth, believable animation at eight frames per second on machines that were more suited to games like The Oregon Trail. He also created action games that led to realistic titles like Tekken that used real, human motion in order to add amazing realism.
A funny thing happened about ten years ago. The creator of these games, Jordan Mechner, apparently lost the original PoP source code and hunted all over for it, asking former Broderbund employees and digging through old files. The files – stored on 3.5-inch floppy disks – contained the original machine code for the game. The only way to actually play the game, until today, was to run an emulated, extracted ROM.
Mechner, however, just received a box from his Dad. In it were a few Amstrad cassettes of his games and, more important, the original Apple II source code. That’s right: PoP will be back in its original form as soon as Mechner figures out how to pull data off of the ancient disks and handle the 6502 processor code.
In short, it looks like PoP is back. This is a great day for 1980s motion-cap action/martial arts/run and jump games.