One of the most anticipated titles at this year's Tokyo Game Show was without a doubt The Last Guardian. From the talented Team Ico and Fumito Ueda, it has been kept in the dark ever since it was first made official, that is until now or so we were led to believe.
As it turned out the TGS showing of The Last Guardian was a bit of an anticlimax, and a large portion of the hour long presentation was spent on the upcoming HD-versions of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus that are due out next spring on Playstation 3. Apart from the trailer that was first shown earlier that morning on the showfloor, nothing was shown from The Last Guardian. And here I was thinking that I might get to see the game played in front of me. Instead the only live gameplay I saw was from the high resolution version of Shadow of the Colossus.
The session was sort of set up like a question and answer session, with the U.S. producer asking Fumito Ueda a number of general questions about the new trailer, and The Last Guardian, as well as the PS3 editions of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus.
Not shying away from the question on most people's mind the first thing he asked Mr. Ueda was why things have been so quiet.
"On both previous titles we were doing R&D (research and development) and game design in parallel and sometimes production was delayed. Therefore this time we decided to do the R&D side first, lock the core elements and then progress with the rest of the game.
At this point I'm confident in the product, it's the end of the trial phase of development and it's time for us to go into full production, crunch mode."
The trailer ended with the words "Coming holiday 2011", but Fumito Ueda himself said, "We'll do our best - holiday 2011 is our target". And what more could we possibly ask?
If you're interested in The Last Guardian you have probably watched the new trailer a few times by now. According to Fumito Ueda, the main thing he wanted to show was the way animations and the movement of Trico had progressed since we saw the game last. He also wanted to sow a seed of uncertainty into the minds of fans, who assumed that The Last Guardian would be yet another game with a sad ending. In fact, the trailer is rather cheery and shows off the playful interaction between the hero and Trico.
After this the host allowed questions from the audience. The first question uttered by an esteemed colleague went something along the lines of "Will Ico and Shadow of the Colossus come on separate discs or on one Blu-Ray in the States?". This was the burning question this particular journalist most wanted to ask Fumito Ueda, one of the most interesting game developers in the world, after having listened to him and his translator talk up The Last Guardian and the HD-release of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. Interested to learn the answer? Read on. If you're not interested just skip the last sentence.
There were more interesting and urgent questions asked later on, so we (games journalists) are not completely useless. At least not all of the time.
One journalist asked whether the destruction of the environment and the relationship between the boy and Trico were dynamic. Ueda answered that he felt this was shown in the trailer, the Playstation 3 is more powerful and allows for a more dynamic game. It also allows for a grander scale, and "levels that may dynamically change". It seems as though the boy will use the relationship with Trico to transform the environments in ways that allow you to progress in the game.
Then one of the few females in the audience asked whether there was any relationship between The Last Guardian and the previous titles.
"Even these two titles [Ico and Shadow of the Colossus] started out as completely separate, then towards the end of development we thought that maybe we could connect them. With The Last Guardian we started out fresh. Maybe there will be a connection, maybe not", said Ueda.
The last question asked was perhaps the one best answered. One member of the audience observed that the main characters in all three games were young boys and asked about the reason for this.
"For all three games this is by coincidence. For instance, when working on The Last Guardian, Trico is a very powerful creature, to balance that, to design the game balance, to have a beefed up character would kind of throw that off. And so, the design drove me to create a main character that was more adolescent.
"A nice little point here, that you may want to write about. When I first started designing this game the main character was supposed to be a girl. But, again from a game designer perspective, a little boy compared to a girl would have a little more grip power to be able to climb Trico. Another element would be girls wear skirts", Fumito Ueda said and that concluded the session.
There you go, no up skirts camera angles of little girls climbing giant catdragons. I never got to ask my question about the dreamlike worlds Ueda and his team have created and what role he feels the world plays, but I'm sure there will be another opportunity to do that before the game comes out.
Sony and Team Ico are definitely keeping their secrets well guarded, but what they have shown and given the track record of the team there is no reason to think any less of The Last Guardian. Oh, and Ico and Shadow of the Colossus will ship on one Blu-Ray disc (Ueda didn't know the answer, but he was assisted by the U.S. producer).
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