If you ever want to know why it's so important that video game history be preserved, ask Jordan Mechner. The creator of the Prince of Persia series recently used up all of his remaining luck when he discovered the lost source code to the original Prince of Persia dating back to the 1980s on Apple II disks. Now Mechner has told the complete story of how he rescued that obsolete data from the memory hole in a fascinating tale of archival drama.
I didn’t need the source code for anything; and it wasn’t as if POP had been lost to history — vintage Apple II POP copies (and their disk images) were widely available — but still, it bothered me to think that something I’d spent years working on was just gone. I felt dumb for not having kept a copy.
This was eight years ago. I gave up the search and forgot about it.
Until two weeks ago, when my Dad shipped me a carton of my stuff he’d found cleaning out the closets of his New York apartment. Inside was the source code archive I’d mislaid in 1990.
It's great news to hear that the original Prince of Persia source code has been preserved. Other famous franchises aren't so lucky. For instance, rumors persist that Capcom lost the source code to its Mega Man titles for the original Nintendo Game Boy. Konami is missing lots of 1980s and early 1990s Castlevania artwork and related material thanks to earthquake damage. Everyone involved with creating video games needs to make the extra effort to preserve valuable information. Not everyone will be as lucky as Mechner down the line.
(Photo: Jordan Mechner)