The sly detectives over on NeoGAF have discovered that Sony has renewed the trademark for The Last Guardian after an administrative error let it expire previously. So keep holding your breath, fans -- you may very well g...
Folks were worried last night when Sony failed to extend the trademark for The Last Guardian. Sony confirmed to GameSpot that it, "can confirm that the Last Guardian is still in development." Failing to renew the tr...
Tomorrow's PlayStation Store update will add two games to the Instant Game Library for PlayStation Plus members. The new freebies are Ico and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (PSP and Vita). I'd also point out that...
Feb 14 //
Vito Gesualdi Jessica – Final Fight
On the surface, Final Fight’s Jessica seems like a rare catch, a high-society gal with a definite knack for fashion and a particular interest in bad boys. Not to mention how hard it can be to find a decent date in Metro City, unless you’re into having beautiful transvestites beat the crap out of you. The real problem with dating Jessica though? Meeting her parents, specifically daddy:
Yes, Haggar is pile driving a shark, and no, he doesn't need to explain why
Meet Mayor Mike Haggar, the man who pioneered the pro-wrestling politician angle (long before Jesse “The Body” Ventura tried to steal his swagger). This is the kind of father-in-law you don’t want to mess with, as one wrong step will result in a literal whirlwind of hurt. Remember, this is the man who tackled his city’s gang problem by punching it to death; the kind of guy who goes to work in suspenders because he knows that he’s just going to rip through any dress shirt he puts on once he thrusts those beefy arms out to his sides and spin-punches the crap out of whatever junior assistant screwed up his coffee order. So, how do you think he’s going to treat the guy who forgets his little girl’s birthday? If your answer was anything other than “pile drive his skull into the pavement,” you've got a lot to learn about Mike Haggar’s America. And don’t even think about trying to report your savage pummeling to the police, because Mike Haggar IS THE LAW. How do you really think Jessica’s former boyfriend wound up in jail?
I really shouldn’t have told her she looked fat in that dress…
Aeris – Final Fantasy VII
To be fair, Aeris actually seems like a pretty fantastic girlfriend. She’s a dedicated church-going woman, maintains her own small flower selling business, and despite being relentlessly pursued by the evil corporate goons at Shinra she manages to maintain that winning smile.
I'm dying Cloud... you'll carry this moment with you for the rest of your life...
If anything is wrong with Aeris, it’s the fact that she’s well… deceased. But beyond the obvious fact that necrophilia is generally frowned upon, the bigger problem is this girl doesn’t know how to stay dead.
And I'm back!
See, one of the great things about dead people is that they stay dead. For instance, I miss my grandfather a lot, but because he has the decency to remain in his corpsebox deep beneath the earth, I’ve mostly been able to cope with the loss. Aeris however, seems to pop her head up in just about every new SquareEnix game that comes along, which has got to be weighing a serious emotional toll on her former boyfriend. What’s that Cloud? There’s a movie sequel to the game where you watched me get a sword jammed through my heart? How’s about I show up and help reopen those terrible wounds? Oh, Square’s making a fun Disney tie-in game meant for preteens? How do you feel about my dead ass prancing around? Would a corpse woman tormenting her former lover be appropriate for this E-rated title?
Thing is, though it’s creepy to watch Cloud chase his dead girlfriend through the streets of Toontown, watching Tifa continue to pursue that spikey-haired jackass is even worse. Seriously, girl, it’s time you stop crushing on that mopey loser and get with a real man. Might I suggest a little bit of brown sugar to spice up your life?Catherine - Catherine
Many men hope to wake up with a beautiful woman in their bed, though before you start pining for the titular character of Atlus’s Catherine, know that this privilege comes with a horrible price. You think it’s bad when your girlfriend forces you to watch some crappy Ashton Kutcher romantic comedy? Imagine if instead she forced you to fight for your life in a terrible nightmare realm, featuring the two worst things in the world: trippy demonic manifestations of your darkest fears, and CRATE PUZZLES.
To be fair, main character Vincent totally deserves to be impaled by a giant fork. He’s got a perfect girlfriend already (Katherine), and he wants to sleep around with some blonde hussy. Why? Because he’s afraid of commitment?
Get it together jackass.
Point is, if you happen to be dating a fantastic woman and some random chick with a suspiciously similar name starts flirting hard up on you, it might be time to GTFO.
Anybody - Fire Emblem: Awakening
When battling your way through Nintendo’s blistering tough series of strategy RPGs, it’s hard to not get attached to the game’s many capable women. Beautiful sorceresses, graceful Pegasus knights, even scantily clad immortals, so the Lolita-fetishists can pretend they don’t have a problem.
She's 1000 years old! IT'S NOT CREEPY!
Problem is, as attractive as these women may be, your chance of forming a lasting connection is slim. Because let’s face it, you suck at strategy RPGs. Half these girls are going to die before you even make it through the tutorial missions. Rose – Metal Gear Solid 2
Making a relationship work definitely requires a lot of communication. Thing is, while many men complain about their girlfriend’s constant texting, imagine how it would be if you had a stealth communication device implanted in your ear canal, and for no good reason, the military decided to give your girlfriend the frequency code.
I know a lot of people weren’t fans of Metal Gear Solid 2’s Raiden, but regardless of how you feel about long-haired pretty boys with samurai swords, you have to have some sympathy for a guy who’s busy trying to rescue the goddamn President of the United States, only to get forced into a conversation about his “feelings.”
Hey baby, I’m about to fight an immortal vampire atop an oil platform. Can we maybe talk about this later?
Yorda - Ico
Look, I get it, there’s a certain exotic appeal to having a foreign girlfriend. Hell, there’s even an entire industry catering to supremely lonely creeps who would rather buy a wife from abroad than take the chance on becoming a decent person. That being said, somehow the weird glowing girl from Ico leaves much to be desired. Thing is, it’s going to become very hard to make a relationship work when the only conversation topics your significant other understands are “climb that crate” and “dammit, you stupid girl, I’m all the way over here -- will you please get away from those shadow monsters, please!”
Seriously, don’t even get me started on those shadow monsters. What’s that, all your guy friends are having a poker night? Sorry, buddy, but you’re stuck at home making sure your significant other doesn’t get pulled into a swirling portal to oblivion.
Pass.Tails – Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Look, I’m not personally into the whole “furry” thing, but even if you were going to pick an animal partner I think you could do much better than Sonic’s stupid fox girlfriend. Not only does she have one of the most annoying voices in all of gaming, but--Wait, Tails is a guy?Oh. Well he still sucks.Sakura – Street Fighter
Though I understand the whole schoolgirl thing definitely appeals to many fellas, you may want to seriously reconsider breaking your state’s statutory laws for a fling with this spunky street fighter. As cute as Sakura may seem, her methods of showing affection are borderline psychotic. I mean let’s be honest, Sakura has a major crush on Ryu. Though rather than express her affection in a sane and rational manner, she instead decides to basically become his female clone. So while taking to wearing a similar headband is on par with your typical teenage obsession, putting in countless hours of training to learn all of a man’s signature fighting moves? That’s beyond the realm of creepy obsession.
Do not want.
Every male game protagonist ever
Sorry fellas, but you’ve gotta admit that for every lackluster gaming girlfriend, there’s about fifty muscle-bound morons who offer literally nothing in terms of dating potential.
Just take a look at some of our most beloved gaming stars: a fat middle-aged Italian plumber who still hangs out with his brother; a guy who thinks mullets are still in style; a physics nerd. This douchebag. And of course, legions and legions of muscle-bound morons whose only real method of communication is some indiscernible grunting and a burst of fire from their plasma rifle.Point is, as much fun as it is to jump into the shoes of these digital heroes, real girls aren’t hiding in castles. As nice as fantasyland might be, maybe it's time for losers like us to turn off the console and get ourselves a real date.
[Haggar image courtesy of jnkboy]
Suddenly my prom date seems alright If you’re anything like me, Valentine’s Day is a very special time of year. A time to be reminded that your crippling social anxieties and complete lack of desirable personality traits mean you’re likely to ...
I'll be damned! Remote Play on the PS Vita actually does something now. A new update, out today, will let you play both the God of War Collection and the Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection on your PS Vita via Remote Pl...
Jan 23 //
Although more commonly known as the spiritual predecessor to Shadow of the Colossus and the upcoming The Last Guardian, Ico is a game of some renown. The player takes the role of the title character Ico in his attempt to escape from a mysterious castle after being exiled and imprisoned there for the sin of growing horns. Before long, the young boy finds himself accompanied by the ethereal Yorda, an older girl subjected to the captivity of her mother, the Queen of the castle. The game is minimalistic in narrative style, meaning the sparse characterization is primarily drawn from nuance and inference.
Gameplay consists of two general operations: puzzle-platforming, wherein Ico traverses terrain and solves environmental puzzles in order to create a path for Yorda to get from A to B, and combat, which tasks the player with fending off specters as they seek to recapture Yorda for the Queen. Although the player can jump, climb, swim, swing, push crates, pick up objects, use levers, attack monsters, and so on, Yorda's abilities are limited to rudimentary movement and the opening of doorways. Since this latter function is otherwise unavailable to Ico, it is for this that the player must drag her around.
Despite being her primary function in the game, Yorda opens doorways through proximity alone, courtesy of some magical properties innate to her. This is par for the character -- Yorda's absence of will defines everything about her, from her incompetency at performing basic commands issued by the player to her inability to register the danger of the Queen's minions. Even when the time comes for Yorda to carry out her most useful (and only) duty, it is a passive ability that requires her to do absolutely nothing but smile and look pretty. Yorda is burdensome, vapid, and weak; she is the lobotomized archetype of the damsel in distress.
Sadly, Yorda determines a significant proportion of Ico. The gameplay mechanics are framed by Yorda's feebleness and Ico's need for her continued survival. Since a language barrier reduces communication to basics, their relationship largely consists of the dynamic described by these mechanics. A primary expression of this is Ico's method of directing her about the castle, either by hollering at the lass to grab her attention or by holding her hand and physically moving to the desired location. The former, however, tends to be rather time-consuming as Yorda often finds it difficult to concentrate on the matter at hand, while the latter feels more like Ico is hauling cargo by an elastic rope. Meanwhile, the unfolding narrative impinges on the player growing emotionally attached to Yorda on the basis of this physical interaction.
As evidenced by her vacuity of will and her incapability to act, Yorda is severely lacking in agency. If she is not being rescued by Ico, Yorda is waiting for him to make a path that suits her relative immobility. In contrast, our steadfast protagonist spends his time in willful activity, solving puzzles and battling monsters as the situation demands. While it is of course quite easy to imbue a character with agency by drawing a comparison with Yorda, Ico is nevertheless propelled by actions in his own right, to his own end. Ico wants to escape the castle and will do everything in his power to achieve this goal.
So too does the player, by virtue of wanting to play and advance in the game. Ico's agency here is compatible with the player's, making the filling of his shoes all the more comfortable. The gameplay functions of the player-character meet the expectations and desires of the player, engaging him or her with the game under a loose role-playing pretense. For the most part, this is made all the more facile in Ico through the minimalistic style -- the less reason we have to dislike a character, the more tolerable we tend to find that character and his/her actions.
Unfortunately, at several points in Ico, the agencies abruptly diverge. So long as the player-character is expected to cart around Yorda as a glorified key card, her company is a necessary burden for the sake of game progression. There comes a time, however, when freedom is at hand and her abilities are no longer needed, yet the player is obliged by the narrative to reunite with Yorda and sacrifice any newfound chance at liberty. Attempts by the player to treat Yorda's literal stumble at the last hurdle as destined-to-be (or in my case, as a chance to thank my lucky stars) is met with a resolute "Game Over" screen.
What develops is an odd entanglement of the agencies of player, developer, and player-character. The developer requires the player to instinctively want to prioritize Yorda over escaping the castle. The player-character of Ico wants to return to Yorda's side in much the same way, we are retroactively told. What the player wants, on the other hand, is very much conditional.
Whether or not the player wants to reunite with Yorda depends on how tolerable they find her character to be. In the possibility that the player finds her company to be a far greater burden than she is worth, as is quite the likelihood given Yorda's chronic uselessness, the player will act contrary to the developer's wishes and the narrative will hit a dead end. The subsequent "Game Over" screen is not one resulting from a lack of skill on the part of the player or from misfortune but of a denial of the player's agency.
But the player's agency is never anything but a false pretense, an illusion maintained by successful manipulation of the player on the part of the game's makers. The actions of a player, and therefore the fulfilled agency of a player, only exist so far as they are entertained and permitted fulfillment by the developer. Likewise, the agency of the developer is only realized by the actions of the player. This is a universal principle across all videogames whenever a developer creates a virtual world and invites a player to participate within it.
This mutually characterizing relationship between the player and the game's makers produces a phenomenal experience born from both party's collaborating agencies. The agency at play during the course of a game is neither solely the player's nor the developer's but rather the two combined. We always talk about our personal experiences with a game as if we authored them, and insofar as the developer enables us, we are indeed the authors. Be that as it may, authorship isn't authority. He who brings to life an act is no more automatically the highest authority on his action than the player is of his/her decision to take Yorda's hand.
Not that any of this invalidates the authenticity of a player's experiences. There are hundreds of thousands of videogame tales that are intimate to the player who pseudo-co-authored them, each tale reflexively offering its own story on what player agency entails. Sleep Is Death is one game in particular that relates to this phenomenon, as is the above Half-Life 2 mod The Stanley Parable. Ultimately, the game experience is a shared one, just as any agency exercised within a game is collaborative.
So long as the illusion of choice is maintained, the discomfort of a non-existent player agency can be whitewashed. In the case of Ico, the problem is not linearity but that the feedback insufficiently matches the player's natural inclinations. The solution as always is to successfully enrapture the player until they are blissfully unaware that their strings are being pulled.
In philosophical terms, "agency" is the capacity for a person to make decisions and act according to those decisions. The ability to decide one's own actions entails a substantial degree of self-expression and so is quite a s...
We are getting ever closer to the busiest shopping day of the year. Kmart has some pretty good deals going on. Here's a short list of what you can expect to find should you choose to do shopping there:
$199.99 - Get a $25 gi...
I may have confessed to not being a fan of Team ICO's games, but that doesn't mean I can't celebrate its success. The ICO & Shadow of the Colossus Collection has topped the multiplatform sales chart in North America and J...
Ever wanted to check out the Uncharted, Resistance or God of War series and are picking up the ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection tomorrow anyway? Well, this is a better time than any because if you stop into Best Buy ...
Sep 24 //
My wife adores Jeff Buckley, as do a fair few people I've met over the years. They say his music touches their soul, speaks out to them, and provided the soundtrack to a considerable majority of their lives. I've heard his stuff, and I just don't get it. It doesn't sink in. There's something interminably frustrating about that, to know that somebody is getting so much satisfaction out of something, and you can't access whatever font of pleasure others can merrily tap into at will.
Having played a little of the ICO & Shadow of the Colossus Collection, I found that I still couldn't penetrate whatever depth there was to these games. ICO, to me, is a glorified escort mission with poor controls, while Colossus is a slower, less interesting Prince of Persia with ... poor controls. I tweeted this past weekend that I just didn't get why they were so popular among "hardcore" gamers, and was swiftly buried under a torrent of desperate and invested appeals.
Many of these retorts said the same thing: the atmosphere, the visuals, the rich artistry of it all -- that's why these games are enjoyed so much. A few even admitted that the gameplay of both titles wasn't quite up to par, yet still contended that the aesthetic pleasure was enough to make up for it. I understand that; I've been there before. I've had games speak to me from beyond a veil of poor interfaces and aged gameplay. I am not here to argue whether or not Team ICO's games are good or bad. I'm here to tell you that my low opinion of these games is not something I revel in.
In fact, if you love ICO or Shadow of the Colossus, I'm quite jealous of you. I wish I could join you in gushing over these amazing works of art. I love videogames that can make an emotional connection with the player, and to try these games and come away with nothing but exasperation and regret that I wasted my time completely confounds me to an unpleasant degree.
To use an incredibly nerdy -- but game-related -- comparison, I feel like the Heartless from Kingdom Hearts, or really any stock character that is born without feelings and watches enviously as the "normal" people laugh, cry, and love, and feel things that I can't. There's an almost crushing emptiness when these games are brought up, a black hole where I know unfettered adoration ought to be. Some people think that I dislike certain games for fun and profit, but the truth is this: it's deeply uncomfortable.
The same is true of fighting games, although there's a far more scientific reason for my disliking them -- I just can't play them. Of all the genres of games out there, the one-on-one fighting game is something I've never been able to wrap my head or hands around. Of course, it didn't help that Rise of the Robots and Primal Rage were my fighters of choice as a child, but the fact remains that, when people get excited for a new Street Fighter or Marvel vs. Capcom, I'm on the outside looking in. I can see the passion, but I cannot feel it, and I envy all of you who can.
When Street Fighter IV released and fans begun to gibber with excitement, it was like I was a man without feet, surrounded by people who'd just bought the hottest new pair of shoes.
The worst part is, disliking some of these games makes one feel like less of a gamer. Destructoid itself voted Shadow of the Colossus as its greatest game of the last decade. A game that means absolutely nothing to me, voted by my primary employer as the best game of an entire ten-year span. How can one not feel something of a fraud when confronted with a fact like that?
There are plenty of gamers out there who would happily help that attitude to fester, as well. One reader told me that he'd lost "huge respect" for me after finding out that I didn't appreciate ICO or Colossus. Others in the past have entreated me with incredibly patronizing language, as if attempting to explain nuclear physics to a three-year-old. Telling hardcore gamers that you hate ICO is like telling a Tea Party supporter that you're gay ... only with a significantly decreased threat of being shot.
Is it really so wrong to not love what everybody else loves? It certainly is frustrating, but gamers these days are so quick to jump down the throats of anybody who doesn't march in step with them that they might have forgotten that we're not all the same person. The phrase "if you hate this game, you're not a true gamer" is one that I've seen far too many times over the years -- sometimes the wording is different and the games are never the same, but the sentiment is identical across the board. If you don't like a certain game, you are a fraud, and you deserve nothing more than to become a pariah.
"We have this weird attitude that if we don't like a popular game either we're wrong, or the game is bad," Ars Technica editor Ben Kuchera told me after my Team ICO confession. "Games aren't objectively good and bad, and we don't need to connect with every one."
Ben is right, of course. No gamer needs to love the same games as everybody else. There is no one game good enough to define the difference between a gamer and a non-gamer, and thinking that one exists is extremist thought of the highest order.
Knowing this truth doesn't take away the sting of disliking games that so many others adore. It doesn't make one feel more justified or soothe the jealous pangs. Writing this definitely helps, though. Attempting to communicate exactly how one feels about hating the games you love is somewhat cathartic. And while there are definitely trolls out there who will take a contrary stance just to watch the feather fly -- who will say they hate a game simply to rile up its fans and make them dance like puppets -- there are others with legitimate, valid reasons for not enjoying the same things as you, and chances are good that they don't get off on it. Quite the opposite, in fact.
So, what can you do when a videogame beloved so many is like oil on water to you?
But you can at least write a fancy little blog post about it, and hope people understand.
I've played videogames for the vast majority of my life, to the point where I've been fortunate enough to make it part of my life. I feel I could confidently challenge anybody to rival my passion for the medium, my respect fo...
Hiya, fellas! Sorry I'm late on posting yesterday's episode of The Destructoid Show, but Max and I stayed up all last night playing Dead Island with some of the guys from Bitmob. The things we do for work!
Yes, yes, Dale has already gotten to play and review The Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection. The game isn't out until the end of this month, painful as that may be to hear. The folks at the PlayStation Blog have amped ...
Viz Media has announced that they will publish author Miyuki Miyabe's novel ICO: Castle in the Mist, on August 16th. The new book will be published by the company’s Haikasoru imprint and will carry an MSRP of $15.99. It...
Sony has revealed that ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection will be getting bonus content when it finally ships on September 27.
Those picking up the HD re-releases of Team ICO's classic games will receive two dyna...
Two new trailers have popped up, dedicated to the two halves of the long awaited ICO/Shadow of the Colossus Collection. The video above is for ICO, the one below is for Shadow of the Colossus. They're both fairly lovely.&nbs...
I have been looking forward to the ICO/Shadow of the Colossus HD collection every since it was first announced, and now I know I will be playing it this September ... in 3D!
It's nice to know the game will be offic...
I thought it would never happen. Hell, it still hasn't really happened for us. At least Japan has a solid release date for the PS3 remakes of the Team ICO PS2 classics, Shadow of the Colossus and ICO. It all goes down on S...
Sony has announced, by way of SCEA producer Tsubasa Inaba, has confirmed that The Last Guardian and the ICO/Shadow of the Colossus Collection, have both been delayed. Originally pegged for release this year, Team ICO's u...
In an interview with Edge, Team Ico creative director Fumito Ueda talks about how he thinks their upcoming PS3 game, The Last Guardian, will sell better than their previous titles. In a response to a question about how well w...
If you've played Team ICO's Shadow of the Colossus and ICO, you'll definitely notice some ties between the games. Those that have finished both titles will have seen even more of a relation. But can we expect to see a similar...
The latest issue of Famitsu is, as usual, in the hands of some a bit early and information which will no doubt be officially announced at Tokyo Game Show is starting to hit the net. Good information. Like, for example, confir...
This week's HAWP is about Ico and gender politics and games. That's right -- we went from lowbrow "Anthony is gay" jokes to female empowerment in two weeks. WHAT. Ultimately, this week's episode was worth it for this comment alone:
that was too funny the ending was so jokes
Hey guys, let's talk about the Team ICO Collection some more! Despite listings that say the game is definitely coming, and rumors aplenty, Sony has remained coy on the subject, with Sony Worldwide Studios VP Shuhei Yoshida cl...
Remember those rumors about a Team ICO Collection? Yeah, apparently Amazon France seems to think it's a sure thing, since the compilation has been listed for a June 2011 release.
Featuring ICO and Shadow of the Colossus...
A rather substantial rumor has slapped into the Internet's greasy hands today, with talk of a nostalgic collection that will bring ICO and Shadow of the Colossus to the PS3 in HD. The rumor has been reported by both VG247 and...
Wouldn't it be awesome to have Team ICO's games on the PlayStation 3 like that thing they did with God of War: Collection? Of course it would. You know it, I know it, and according to a recent TGS interview with 1UP, Fumito U...
Everyone knows the story by now: ICO's European and Japanese box art is brilliant, while ICO's North American box art is f*cking disgusting. Sony Japan Studio VP Yasuhide Kobayashi is all too aware of this, and has voiced his...
We've known for a little while now that ICO costumes are on the way to LittleBigPlanet, and any fan of Team ICO's memorably gorgeous game are likely excited about it. Even more exciting was to stumble upon Media Molecule's Fl...
In a move that will stir the heart and pants of any true-blooded Sony fan, Media Molecule has announced that this Thursday will see the arrival of a Team ICO pack in LittleBigPlanet, including stickers, items and costumes bas...