In The Shadow Of Shadow Of The Colossus

By Kieron Gillen on June 14th, 2010 at 10:00 am.

This spoils the surprise, somewhat, but I'm not sure you'd have clicked it otherwise.

TheBlackBandit, quite impressed, pointed us in the direction of this free platformer. Heir is clearly inspired by – but, I stress, not anywhere in the league of – the Team Ico’s critical colossus, but in 2D and without having to ride the annoyingly wonky horse through that fucking forest or having to deal with Edge’s equivalents of John Walker boo-hooing over it whenever it’s mentioned. The move to 2D actually immediately moves it closer to Prince of Persia, which – for me – sits at the head of this particular family tree.. Its three levels are a stylish example of the genre. It’ll be a fine way to start the week.

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82 Comments »

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  1. TotalBiscuit says:

    The horse in SotC was the best horse in any game, it wasn’t wonky at all. Good day sir!

    • Scypher says:

      It’s true! Horse of the Year, all years!

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      One man’s wonk is another man’s best, of course.

    • vanarbulax says:

      [spoilers]

      Indeed forget about this Aeris or whoever, I cried when Argo died.

      [/spoilers]

      Well not really, but still felt a great deal of sadness.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      *Facepalm* Those aren’t real spoiler tags.

    • Dominic White says:

      The horse was only wonky if you tried to drive it like a car. It’s pretty intelligent and willful – you point it in the direction you want to go, and it’ll figure out the fine details for you.

    • The Great Wayne says:

      ***Spoiler***:

      Argo doesn’t die. He’s just badly wounded, as you can see in the end credits.

      ***/spoiler***

    • Spacewalk says:

      [SPOLIER]

      You must have missed the special extended ending where they had to put him down and sent him off to the glue factory.

      [/SPOLIER]

    • Nick says:

      He rides off on Shane’s back at the end, he was just slumped over because he was tired.

  2. Omroth says:

    SotC is just incredible aesthetically. I kind of think it deserves the ballyhoo.

  3. jimmy says:

    not all that great

  4. Vadermath says:

    The best horse to control is any Mount & Blade horse.

    Good day to /you/, sir!

  5. Okami says:

    You are the most wrongest man on the internet, Mr. Gillen. Agro is the best horse in gaming history, the only in game equine that feels like a real animal and not some kind of four legged motor cycle.

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Yeah but horses are creature of the devil which the average right-in-his-mind man can only appreciate with some salt and pepper.

      Why would you want a digital one to act like a real one ?! maybe in a silent hill, or a butchery tycoon, but certainly not in this kind of game.

  6. Biggles says:

    Whoa, this has nothing on its inspiration. SotC is a truly beautiful game from the concept down to the tiny details. This is just a sluggish, boorish rip off. And to compare it to the original prince of persia? Methinks you need to replay these games, sir!

  7. Jakkar says:

    Gillen, you’re ruffling feathers. Stop ruffling!

    Whatever was wonky about that wonderful creature? Even RDR’s don’t hold a candle, and Assassin’s Creed’s weren’t particularly impressive. Still haven’t seen a movement system for man or beast that could quite beat SOTC – Rockstar’s last two efforts come closest thanks to Euphoria. As for AI and emotional connection to an animal, it wins again. Can’t say Miss Alyx Vance had my affection that much. The one creature I loved most in all HL2 was a sentry gun I picked up in Nova Prospekt. I eventually tried to take it with me into the teleporter, which violently crashed the game ._.

    Anyway.

    That was utter rubbish :(

    I don’t know whether to think of it as an ugly, repetitive and dull homage that does harm by the comparison, or a ripoff that failed to rip off anything worth ripping off, but stuck whatever did unadhere onto the screen in a crude collage.

    I dub it Cargo-cult Colossus.

    When a game fails on the internet, does it matter why it was made?

  8. Premium User Badge

    Vitamin Powered says:

    If you try and ride Argo at full speed through the forest, then you probably don’t have a soul.

    And nothing has made me as likely to buy a PS3 as the thought of the upcoming HD version of SotC.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      There’s an upcoming HD version? For PS3? Sweet jeebus, why are you doing this to me? I was so resolved to not buy a PS3. I was like a rock! I wouldn’t budge no matter how much I really really really wanted to play Heavy Rain. Pox on the consoles and so forth.

      Sir, you are a crack dealer. For shame.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Vitamin Powered: Some of us are in a rush to get to the next trial-and-error boss-battle.

      KG

    • Okami says:

      Hmm… Someone really doesn’t like Shadow of the Colossus…

    • Premium User Badge

      Vitamin Powered says:

      @Dawngreeter

      I probably shouldn’t mention The Last Guardian then?

    • Premium User Badge

      lhzr says:

      by the looks of things, kieron’s christmas presents never included any consoles, so he now despises ALL console games (probably even the bestest one of all, GODHAND). grapes being sour and all that.

    • Premium User Badge

      lhzr says:

      @dawngreeter: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/ico-and-shadow-of-the-colossus-emulated-in-hd

      pcsx2 is cheaper than a ps3. plus you’ll prolly have to upgrade your pc for it, so you’ll be able to play all the fancy new pc games as a bonus.

    • Kirian says:

      People in a rush to get from one trial-and-error boss battle to the next were missing a huge, gigantic and important chunk of what the game was trying to do. Which is fine, ’cause game-player instincts are hard-wired into us. Whether trial-and-error is a fair appraisal is another matter. In a game where the target is as blatant as any arcade shoot-‘em-up boss battle. Hey look, I can see the weakpoints! I just need to look around and see where to go to get to them. Like in PoP.

      People who say Agro was wonky may be missing that he’s a reasonable facsimile, for video games, of a real horse (although I haven’t ridden in a few years so the memory may be fuzzy). You know, an animal that agrees to carry you in roughly that direction but still has a mind. For all the fluidity of Epona, she was just a horse-shaped motorbike.

      One of the forest bits was annoying for a short while. Then I just walked through it slowly. “A poor life this” and all that.

      Shadow of the Colossus has problems. Mostly technical ones, which is a shame. We’ll see what they do with their next one (I predict the same: a beautiful set of ideas that take advantage of the properties of video games marred by technical issues, with a beautiful minimalist aesthetic running through all levels from story to visuals to play).

    • Dawngreeter says:

      @ Ihzr – I will sing praises to you for this link.

      @ Vitamin Powered – I know about the Last Guardian, I just got very good at ignoring it until it’s actually finished. Who knows what’ll happen by then. Maybe it somehow turns up on PC? Yeah, that won’t happen. But still, it brings me pain thinking about it. I’m good at ignoring inconvenient everyday facts of life.

  9. Dawngreeter says:

    I call a horse fatwa on Kieron for blaspheming against Argo.

  10. Sinnerman says:

    Reviews of horses in video games.

    Oblivion. Pointless pantomime horse that you can play dolly dress up with. About as lifelike and believable as a preview of an FPS. 3/10.

    Mount & Blade. Well oiled mechanical horse. Good for running over peasants like a wealthy matron in a chelsea tractor taking the kids to school. 7/10.

    Shadow of the Colossus. Behaves somewhat like a real horse and is a joy to control. Utterly unacceptable. Angry spittle in the face/10.

    • Jakkar says:

      *wipes his eyes* Spot on.

      Assassin’s Creed: Loyal Robot, enjoys leaping frantically upon the slightest proximity with a fence. Does not climb towers well. 6/10

      Red Dead Redemption: Alien species of suicidal loyalists, owing an eternal life-debt to John Marston thanks to his intervention in their cataclysmic steam-based civil war in 1899. When not frantically chasing after him into machinegun fire, tends to lose hope and jump wilfully off cliffs while John digs for truffles. 3/10

      Dwarf Fortress: Finger Lickin’ Good! 7/10.

    • Wulf says:

      I wasn’t so fussy on horses in Oblivion either, they moved in such an annoying, wooden way. And the animations were the stuff of nightmares. I much preferred Fallout 3’s ‘horse‘.

  11. Leelad says:

    My PS2 died before I got chance to play SotC. Even more gutted when sony removed PS2 playback from PS3’s

    • Jakkar says:

      My sympathies, Lee – wait for the inevitable re-release in the runup to ‘The Last Guardian’, the next game by Team ICO.

    • Wulf says:

      The Last Guardian? That’s the game featuring the last of the gryphons, as I recall.

      I won’t be able to buy or play that, because as Penny Arcade pointed out, there’s only one of two ways that can end (and I’ll quite readily believe this due to my irritation at death-happy anime), either the boy dies or the gryphon dies.

      I’d probably have the urge to drop my PS3 out of a third storey window if I had to watch a gryphon die.

      But that’s one of the reasons I moved away from Asian-influenced games: Melodrama. Though some of them manage to escape it, like blessed Okami. If more games were like Okami, I’d be a proud console owner. Le sigh, if only.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      I’m somewhat convinced tragedy did not cease to be a valid storytelling genre. I might be wrong here, not exactly being up to speed with the latest genre memos. The Central Drama Authority could’ve declared it abhorrent in their sight to form stories which are tragic in nature and execution. This does not seem very likely, though, because those CDA chaps seem a rather nice bunch of people who mention Shakespeare with some reverence.

      That said, I am fully supportive of your decision to not engage a narrative whose outcome is predictable (or, rather, assumable?). Even when the outcome is of no actual consequence to what the narrative is trying to accomplish. How about those movies who show you the ending in the first scene and then proceed to tell you for the reminder of the duration how this came about? What a load of horse droppings.

      Even worse, we’re talking about prequels here. As in, Ico is the last in the line, preceded by Shadow of the Colossus and. in all likelihood, the Last Guardian will be the prequel of a prequel. Why the hell would anyone be interested in that when we know it all ends with Ico?

    • neems says:

      Chill out dude, he just doesn’t want to watch a Gryffin (sp?) die. It’s a throwaway comment on the internet. I doubt it’s one of his major lifestyle choices.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      Stop denigrating my soapbox. man.

    • Wulf says:

      I suppose you’re both correct, really.

      I love fantastic creatures and seeing one of those die is murder for me, and where they are concerned I want the death to be meaningful, not just some sort of cheaply written kneejerk reaction that has little to do with the story but everything to do with the audience going “OHNOZ!” and collectively covering their mouths in shock. For example: Ianto Jones from Torchwood, his death was something that could only be considered to be a Kneejerk Trageroffle™. I facepalmed, and then I radiated hate towards RTD.

      Then you have another sort of thing, which I don’t like, where the writer really goes over-emotional, emo, so to speak. Emo almost came from anime, melodrama, Squall with his endless “Whatever.”, oh so tortured Cloud, poor, poor Cloud, and so on, and so on, ad nauseum, where they just overdo it. They hit you with a daisy-chained trainwreck of tragedies leading up to one big one, and lots of angsty angsting characters, filled with teenage angst, because they’re angsty. And then a big tragedy hits, and I sort of just can’t bring myself to care, because they just bloody overdid it.

      Then you have great tragedies, which are incredibly well written but are oh so rare. They don’t go for the kneejerk reaction, and they aren’t there just to get a plot from point A to point B, instead usually they end a storyline. You didn’t really see them coming, but when it hits you could see how the plot was building up to it. Falling Down, to give what’s probably a common example, I hope? Falling Down was one of my favourite, few, well written tragedies. Falling Down’s tragedy made complete sense from a storytelling perspective, it was just meant to be there, and the story was written around the tragedy.

      Now, I love fantastic beasts, me, see… I love them to bits. I love them dearly. Dragons, gryphons, unicorns, werewolves, …I’m just that sort of person. I’m a huge dog person too. So, if they’re going to kill off a gryphon, they’d better have a bloody good reason for it. It’d better be a Falling Down thing, one such tragedy that makes complete sense, one that doesn’t involve the characters being uncharacteristically idiotic or impotent. A tragedy that just… is. One that I couldn’t pick apart. It matters more for me than a tragedy involving a human.

      However, there’s an 80% chance from my view of things that they’ll go for the standard Japanese daisy-chained melodrama, Cloud Strife syndrome. “Oh, I’m hunted and angsty, I’m so angsty. I’m going to die some day, do you care? Oh, I have no hope. Whatever. Whatever.”

      *drags Cloud Strife and Squall out behind the barn and shoots them.*

      That’s what I’m so bloody terrified will happen to the gryphon. I don’t want to watch a gryphon die anyway, but if they do it badly then it’ll just be insult to injury. And yes, I dig gryphons. Gryphons are bloody amazing.

      And if they do it wrong, I’m not going to cry, I’m just going to be angry and annoyed.

      Therefore I think it might be better if I avoided The Last Guardian. If they get it right, I may end up sad. If they get it very right, I may end up both sad and happy. If they avoid tragedy together I know I’d be elated (sorry). But if they did it wrong… D:<

      But yes, I know this is hard to understand. I've accepted before that my brain and everything in it is pretty much a totally alien concept to everyone else, and that actually gives me some kind of comfort.

      So, yes, these are just the opinions and viewpoints of an individual, feel free to not give a damn (please don't give a damn!) and not bust a gut over them or anything, yeah? :D

    • Heliocentric says:

      There is a third way the new Team ICO game could end, they could both die.

    • Meat Circus says:

      I’d say Team Ico’s record of ambiguity in endings will come into play here. Obviously the Guardian will die, but maybe it’s not quite as dead as you thought.

  12. Wulf says:

    The best Horse–by leagues–is Epona. Epona puts the Shadow horsey to shame.

    Sorry.

    Nintendo might do a lot of repeat performances, but they have gameplay honed to a fine art, and Twilight Princess was one of my all time favourites. Mostly because they married great gameplay with not just one but two animals.

    Epona felt great to move around with, but so did Wolf Link. I loved that they used synaesthesia as well to simulate scent, that was something really a bit special.

    Compared to Epona, the Shadow horsey felt primitive. Some will say ‘eccentric’, some will say ‘lifelike’, but you can attribute any of these things to something primitive. You can say that a ZX Spectrum has a character all of its own, that it’s something a bit eccentric and silly, but the only thing you’re really doing is anthropomorphising limitations.

    I know I’m guilty of that, sometimes, but I really didn’t feel compelled to anthropomorphise Shadow’s horsey, but perhaps it’s because I had a past love affair with Epona, and all other horsies feel simply primitive and basic by comparison, not very horse-like at all, and I can’t bring myself to make excuses.

    Shadow of the Colossus was absolutely amazing artistically, but the developer really didn’t know how to marry great gameplay to those visuals, it was really all about the visuals in Colossus, and I won’t be an apologist because I don’t think it’s needed. Shadow was shamelessly about the visuals, and that was all it really needed. Though it might have worked better as a short animated feature.

    But yes, for animals that handle well, Nintendo does that, also Clover Studio, because the handling of Okami was equally appealing.

    [ This post was supplied by Wulf, who is very keyed into animal type things. ]

    • Mr_Day says:

      Huh. I might have to go play OoT again – for some reason I remember Epona being a simple reskin for the player that moved faster.

      And had the sudden ability to jump on command, which Link never mastered.

    • Wulf says:

      Do try the Twilight Princess version.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Epona jumped when needed in oot, just like link. No buttons, just sufficent speed.

  13. Dreaded Walrus says:

    WHY ARE YOU GUYS ALL SAYING ARGO? The horse’s name is Agro.

    • Chris D says:

      Yeah, that’s what I thought

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Maybe because they don’t want their sweet pony memories to be wasted by a phonetic proximity with mmo slang ?

      That said, you are a-right.

    • Chris D says:

      I did think it was a strange choice of name at the time. I assumed it meant something else in Japanese.

    • vanarbulax says:

      Yeah official documents say Agro but it sounds to close to MMO slang and creepy Australian puppets.

      Plus I always here his name called out as “ah-go” in the game which sounds closest of Argo.

  14. Krimson says:

    In my book, Epona will always be the best horse. /Argument.

    Regarding the game, I liked it. Not having played Shadow of the Colossus, I thought it was a fun and clever platformer. the sense of scale was really well handled, and the bits where the camera zoomed out so you could get the full picture of the beast were impressive. Vector graphics are cool.

    In conclusion, this is a FREE FLASH GAME, and comparing it to a fully featured retail release is just foolish, in spite of the (overwhelming, I’ll admit) similarities. Enjoy it for what it is, and you’ll have a grand old time.

  15. Jymkata says:

    Surely that ending is a contender for the stupidest videogame ending since Bioshock

    • Krimson says:

      Yeah, Kings are dicks.

      The story was kind of superfluous to the game anyway.

  16. TotalBiscuit says:

    So Mr Gillen, what do you have to say for yourself?

    “Some of us are in a rush to get to the next trial-and-error boss-battle.”

    Oh right, you’re just bad at the game.

  17. Rinox says:

    Somewhat unfortunately I have never owned a PS so I will likely never play SOTC or have an opinion about it. Where does everyone here get the money to AND own a good gaming PC, AND a PS (and often an Xbox 360 often too) AND to buy games for all these systems? Genuine question.

    I mean, more power to you, and I’m kind of jealous, but I work a full-time job at a univerisity degree wage and I really can’t go all that nuts over games, gadgets and books every month if I want to save a decent amount. So do I misjudge the cost of these systems? Or is everyone just much richer than me? :-) Mind you, I do live alone, so no bills to split. Probably a piece of the puzzle

    • Chris D says:

      I had a PS and PS2 back once you could pick them up for cheap and buy all your games pre-owned. Now the entire world has moved online and you need a PC to live it worked out cheaper to upgrade that rather than pick up a 360 or PS3. Steam sales help out a lot too.

    • TheApologist says:

      I found me a wife to pay half the rent :)

    • capital L says:

      The PS2 is pretty cheap now, you could still scoop one up and catch up on a lot of neat games on the cheap.

    • DXN says:

      @Rinox:

      PS/2’s are mad cheap nowadays (no more than £50 for a refurbished one, less if it’s just plain second-hand) and PS2 games are mad MAD cheap (if you buy used from GAME or wherever, getting 3 excellent games for £10 is run-of-the-mill). Considering how many classic, must-play games there are for the system I think it’s a good investment for a cash-strapped student type.

      P.S. AGRO FOREVER

    • Rinox says:

      Ah, SOTC is on the PS2? I mistakingly thought it was for the (very expensive) PS3 only. Yeah, I think I can pick up a PS2 on the cheap – that also explains how so many others seem to be able to do so. I had the impression that all those people commenting on SOTC owned a gaming PC (RPS being a PC gaming site and all) in addition to a PS3. Now that would have been expensive living.

      @ TheApologist: yeah, that would seem the cheapest way to go. And most enjoyable allround! :-)

    • Urthman says:

      PS2 emulation is pretty good for both Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. And unlike most console emulation, you don’t have to pirate the games to play them. You can buy the real thing, run it in your CD-ROM drive (or rip it for better performance) and play in HD.

  18. xxstyxx says:

    Ok…its a funny J&R Flashgame but, have someone see the Ending?? O.o
    WTF is wrong with this guys?
    You beat the Game and get killed as reward?

  19. RagingLion says:

    I just wanted to say I didn’t notice anything wrong with Agro when playing SotC and I didn’t notice anything special about the forest affecting things either.

  20. Alexander Norris says:

    The thing I most liked about this is that zooming out is called “scouting” and is accompanied by your character kneeling down to examine tracks. As if actually scouting.

    Yes, I’m easily intrigued.

  21. Meat Circus says:

    KIERON GILLEN HAS DONE A WRONG AND MUST BE REPLACED.

  22. Mr_Day says:

    Have faith! Leap!

    “Ok!” *SPLAT*

    Also, keep holding to the….oh. Ooh. Nasty.

  23. Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

    I would of kept playing this game, if it werent for that annoying water level.

  24. Stabby says:

    Frankly I’d put the original PoP above this – and I’ve never even got past the first level. So I’m not sure what to think…

    However, to those who no little about Shadow of the Colossus this review is a good starting point to understand the praise it got: http://tap-repeatedly.com/Reviews/Shadow_of_the_Colossus/Colossus.shtml

  25. Acosta says:

    And I thought you was a sensitive man, Kieron… :P

    Agro is the best horse ever and the bets moments of SOTC was trot with him and exploring the dreadful place, I can’t believe anyone would want to rush to each colossi like it was a boss rush.

    And Epona can die in a fire, the only Zelda “mount” that matters is the Dragon Boat.

    • PleasingFungus says:

      The King of Red Lions! Yes.

      My brother and I sailed across the world, early-midway through Wind Waker. Just boy and boat, travelling together, at the mercy of wind and current and THOSE @*$&(!#@$ GIANT FLYING HAT THINGS. Aside from hats, quite a fine experience!

      Imagine our chagrin when we completed our voyage, went back to the main quest, and found (as the very next thing) the spell that let you control the wind. Whoops!

    • Bret says:

      Sounds fun.

      And, well, the opposite “IE, those stupid hat things and the photo quest if attempted towards completion.”

  26. Helm says:

    Don’t want to seem betterer-than-thou or anything as I did kinda zoom through Shadow of the Colossus too on the horse, but I still appreciated what they were trying to do with how he handled, as when [that thing] happened I was pretty moved emotionally. If it had been just a motorbike-horse I wouldn’t have.

    You can get to the next boss fast and still appreciate this, I hope.

  27. Auspex says:

    Isn’t Gillen bad at most games?

    And yet he still enjoys them, I think there’s a lesson for a lot of us there.

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Like: to become a RPS writer it takes to see videogames like most of the participant to that thread see women ?

      Because for sure the nerd horde around here discussing ponies must have some difficulties !

      Bazinga !

  28. Web Cole says:

    My my, all these arguments are making me long in the face.

  29. PleasingFungus says:

    RPS has reached an Angry Man Singularity. There is no possible post that will not incite FURIOUS RAGE from the commenter-bloc. Especially if that post is made by Gillen.

    Slightly more on topic, I played the game, and thought it was all right – couldn’t stop myself comparing it to SoC, though, which was both totally unfair and quite ruined the experience for me.

    (The Last Guardian is probably the game that will finally sell me on a PS3.)

    Oh, and Web Cole: I just got your pun as I was writing this comment. Shame on you.

  30. Palmsy says:

    SotC is one of, if not *the* best game ever made. It’s not perfect, but it is a complete work of art, from beginning to end, which I don’t think any other game can claim. Guillermo Del Torro has said that the only works of art in the video game world are the two games of Team Ico’s catalogue.

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Yeah, and GdT’s word about what is art and what is not is to be taken seriously guys, he’s made Mimic and Blade 2.

    • Palmsy says:

      He also made Pan’s Labyrinth, which won an oscar and earned almost unanimously positive reviews, as well as Hellboy 2, also favoured by critics (and a whole load of other well-received films). Sure, he’s no Stanley Kubrick, but he’s a fairly well respected auteur with a distinct artistic style. I’d say he’s more qualified to distinguish what is an isn’t art than most people.

      Also, attempting to discredit an artist by pointing out his lesser works is a little ridiculous. Yes George Lucas made the 3 star wars prequels, but he also made the original 3, the first 2 of which are amazing regardless of the sequels (although I’d hardly call the fat turd an ‘artist’). Back to Kubrick, who despite making some of the best films ever still managed to end his career on a stinker. Incidentally, I’m not a massive GDT fan; I think Pan’s Labyrinth was good but over-hyped, but as I said before I think his opinion as an auteur is still valuable.

  31. Alex Bakke says:

    I- I pointed you in the direction, too :(