The question whether video games are art has been bothering gamers, journalists and critics alike for a long while. Proponents might say that art is subjective, that anything capable of eliciting a deep emotional response could be considered art. Then, perhaps, there is no greater argument for calling video games art than Team ICO's work.
Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, released in 2001 and 2005, respectively, left a huge mark on the PlayStation 2 community. Both instant classics, they won over their audience with their unique atmosphere, emotional story, deep characters, and fresh gameplay. Team ICO creative lead Fumito Ueda's latest creation, The Last Guardian, however, suffered many hurdles during its long development.
In this Kotaku Timeline, we follow TLG's evolution from just a rumor to a solid, confirmed title. We look at when, why, and how Sony delayed the game, and also collect all the details and bits of information they, and Team ICO, released. We will also remain on the lookout for announcements and events, both good and bad, in the future.
It all started with a Sony meet for an unrelated game in 2007. And so that's where our timeline begins...
May 18—Something is rotten in Germany
At a German Sony-organized MotorStorm-related event, a Sony employee reveals to a fan that Team ICO is working on two games. Wow, two games! None of it gets confirmed, of course, but it's something.
Ueda: "Although I do get pressurised, that's not happened yet [on the current project]."
Ico and Shadow of the Colossus creator Fumito Ueda divulges a few details to gamesTM about his new game—in particular, that it's nowhere near ready development hasn't reached the cricital stage yet, meaning there's still a long way to go.
May 19—Rumored first footage of the new game leaks online
PlayStation Lifestylereveals an almost four-minute video which features scenes of interaction between a boy and a large, furry, feline beast. A few instances of cooperative platforming are also shown. At one point, the title "Project TRICO" appears.
June 2—More details revealed at Sony's Press Conference
A new video, this time four and a half minutes in length, is shown at Sony's Press Conference at E3 2009. In addition to a few new images and better quality, we also learn the new game's title: The Last Guardian.
Before he could slip away, IGN manages to snag an interview with Fumito Ueda, who agrees to divulge a few things about several different aspects of the game—namely Trico's (the creature's) design, and gameplay.
September 17—Here's why it's called "The Last Guardian"
Kobayashi: "The Japanese market is only one fifth of the global market (...) Unless we gain success in the overseas market, our studio will go bankrupt."
Sony Japan's Vice President Yasuhide Kobayashi tells Games Industry that the game was titled "The Last Guardian" to appeal to western audiences. A fine decision—"The Giant Man-Eating Eagle Toriko" doesn't quite have the same ring to it. He also speaks about the importance of proper localization.
Ueda: "I would describe [TLG] as an adventure game that you play with [Trico]."
PSB's interview with Fumito Ueda from last week was apparently too lengthy for a single post—here's the rest of it. The ICO head honcho speaks about what kind of game TLG is, the relationship between its two main characters, and what makes video games art.
March 10—Apparently the last two games weren't good enough
Ueda: "I'm making the game so that it's appealing, with the hope that many people will give it a try and love it."
Ueda expresses his desire to avoid making the mistake of creating yet another award-winning title cherished by thousands with The Last Guardian. On a more serious note, what he wants for his next game is a wider appeal—which is understandable.
Ueda: "To provide more challenging and better quality of content (...) I decided to postpone [TLG's] release timing."
Things do not go as expected, and Team ICO delays all their upcoming games. Although the Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection does come out this year (albeit slightly late), TLG is nowhere to be seen.