Missing the PS2 was one of my biggest regrets in life because there seemed to be a lot of stellar games that released for it. Thankfully, a lot of the games in the library are being ported to the Playstation 3, and some are even getting the remaster treatment. Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are two games that deserved to be seen again in HD, and I was grateful to have played these two games.
Ico is a great adventure game where you will be controlling a young boy who was sacrificed in a castle for having horns. He was imprisoned in a stone pod but fortunately, an earthquake released him from the prison and he was able to roam the castle. Soon after, he met a young girl named Yolda, who had the power to open the doors that the boy cannot. Together they must escape the castle and find freedom.
The gameplay mechanics are typical for games of its era. There will be platforming and puzzles that you have to solve to advance the game, and while some of them may be a breeze to pass through if you are already a fan of platformers, there will be some moments where you just get annoyed by the sheer difficulty of jumping to a certain place. The puzzles are also the kind that will infuriate you for being to unsolvable, but the next time you repeat the level, you’ll get embarrassed after realizing that it was actually very easy.
You’ll be accompanied by Yolda all the time, and while you seem younger than her, you will act as the elder child. You’ll have to hold her hand at all times or you might leave her behind. You’ll also have to assist her when climbing some walls or jumping through gaps. Yolda will be occasionally targeted by “Shadows” that will emerge from black spots in the ground. They will try to pull her into those black spots and when you fail to save her, it’s a game over. Be sure to keep her safe.
For the graphics and sound, I wasn’t able to see how the PS2 version was so I don’t know how much the visuals have improved, but compared to other PS3 games that were released back in 2006, I’d say it looks just a little bit outdated. The details are definitely there, but it wasn’t HD enough to reach PS3 standards. Ambient sounds are great. There aren’t much background music in the game save for some important scenes. The song at the end of the game are tear-jerking though.
-Shadow of the Colossus-
I actually played this game before I played Ico, because the cover art looked much more intriguing. I’m glad I did. This game is all about defeating giants, and I think this appealed to a lot of gamers out there.
There isn’t really a story told in Shadow of the Colossus, but you are given a goal so you would be inspired to carry out your journey. You carried a girl to a temple where any wish could be granted. It is not established as to what happened to the girl and what is her relation to the warrior that you will be controlling. All you know is you have to resurrect her and you will do this by defeating the 16 Colossi that is roaming the forbidden lands.
A voice will constantly be talking to you, giving you hints of where you will go next and what you will do to defeat the colossus. After you receive the mission, you will then use the Ancient Sword to pinpoint the location of your next enemy. After you locate the enemy, you will use the sword again to determine its weak points. The Sword is the only means to defeat the enemy. You also have a bow but it is mainly used for getting the enemies’ attention rather than to hurt them. You will be riding your horse, Agro, to get to far places.
What’s good about this game is there are no enemies but the Colossi. It’s like going directly to the boss fight without having annoying minions coming at you every minute. Each Colossus aren’t so easily defeated however, and they are like levels themselves. Since these creatures tower over you and are at least 15 times larger, you’ll have to climb them by hanging on to ledges and fur. Each enemy’s body is composed primarily of stone armor and fur, and sometimes you’ll have to do a bit of platforming to expose and get to the monster’s weak point. You can’t hold on to it forever though because you have a stamina gauge, and you’ll have to stand somewhere to be able to replenish it. Thankfully there are safe spots around the Colossi’s body, or you can just climb down to the ground first and return later.
Each Colossus varies from the other, and while some of them may look similar to another, each one will require a different style to kill. There are humanoids, there are flying monsters, there are some that are just three times bigger than you but very agile, each one will be viewing you as another foolish prey, but of course you will be viewing them in the same way. Some of them will keep you at your wits end, although some of them will require only a bit of analysis to defeat. Once you kill four or five of them, you will get a hang of the game and instinct will somehow guide you to victory. May I just note that the final Colossus is one of the best boss fights I have ever had in games?
The map is not really that huge, but sometimes you will get lost on your way to the next Colossus. You will never get stuck however because your Ancient Sword will literally light your path. You may sometimes get annoyed by your horse though. Agro will sometimes turn without you telling him to do so, and getting on him will require a few button presses because sometimes you will just jump up instead of getting on the horse.
Like Ico, I have no idea how much the visuals have improved for this game, but I’d say the graphics aren’t really that important if the gameplay is the bomb. The orchestral music in this game sounds really motivating and helps you conquer the beasts that loom over you.
I’d say the remastering of this game is justified, and it certainly made me eager to buy Fumite Ueda’s next game which is The Last Guardian, although that game has been delayed for too long and I hope it gets released soon. Along with the two games, there are also bonus content such as the Making-of videos for each game and also a dynamic theme for each of the titles.
Aside from being re-released in HD, this game can also be played in 3D so you can better immerse yourself in the castle walls of Ico or while you stand in the shoulder of a dying Colossus. If you haven’t played this game yet, you should because these are games unlike any other.