Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Importance of X, Part 3: Ueda Edition

It is a bit nostalgic to play ICO and Shadow of the Colossus again. Both of these games were designed by Fumito Ueda and characterized by a sparse visual style, overexposed lighting, and a minimal amount of dialogue. These two games are often among the first titles two be mentioned when the topic of videogames as art comes up. While the original releases of the games looked nice enough compared to other Playstation 2 games of the time, it is even better to see the remastered PS3 versions, which are both available on the same disc.

I originally played the two games farther apart than the actual game releases. I played ICO several months after it came out because a friend of ours got the game and suggested we (the wife and I) play it just as soon as he was done with it, and Shadow of the Colossus had been a Greatest Hits title for over a year or more before I played it.  ICO especially is dear to me because it was one of the few modern games that both my wife and I had finished independently, and it really resonated with us as long-time gamers in terms of it design and story. Shadow of the Colossus was beautiful and haunting in some of the same ways as ICO was, partly due to the sparse environments and the lack of dialogue. 

The last few times that we had gone to the game store as a group, my older son kept asking about the PS3 remake. I found it strange at first that my older son got so fixated on the idea of playing these games. But, I had talked about them a lot, and he had never seen the first game at all so perhaps the mystery of it was enticing him somehow. So, eventually I picked up a copy. The first night that the game got played, I had suggested to my older son that he play ICO, so that our younger son would watch him play, and relax and hopefully get some sleep. However, my older son opted for Shadow of the Colossus only to discover that it was much more intense than ICO. It took him quite a few tries to get the hang of what he was doing on the first Colossus, and I had noticed that he spent a lot of time calling his horse while he was trying to run away. As it turns out, the reason for that is that the jump button for that game (and ICO as well) is mapped to triangle instead of X, so he was trying to jump while running to go faster and ended up calling his horse instead. In the slower pace of ICO, the abnormal mapping of the jump button is less of a hindrance, and once having completed ICO, it's a little more natural to use the triangle button for jump when you get to Shadow of the Colossus.

I was thinking for a moment that perhaps this was some cultural difference, and the Japanese preferred the triangle button to the X button since the first Devil May Cry game also used triangle for jump, but I was just reading that the Japanese version of DMC uses X for jump (which, luckily they did for later US titles).

Team ICO still has one more game to do, no telling what the control scheme will be, but I am looking forward to the release of The Last Guardian (but with my luck they're going to delay it until the release of the PS4).

Addendum: Those of you who weren't sure what I was getting at about a non-standard mapping of the jump button should see the previous posts - Part One and Part Two.

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