Interesting "Shadow of the Colossus" criticism

Lemming_JRS

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I don't agree with everything this guy says, but he makes some valid points. The mere fact the game inspires this kind of spirited debate and criticism makes it that much more of a landmark.



http://www.gamecareerguide.com/features/407/rock_in_his_pocket_reading_shadow_.php?page=1

As a dreamer, his ideas are too organic, too personal to fit the clichés that most of us consider the building blocks of game design. Ueda sidesteps convention where it gets in his way, yet not necessarily where it might get in the player's way. Thus we get deliberate and cleverly designed games, meaningful and painfully gorgeous games, that are nevertheless a nuisance to actually play, leaving Ueda's statements, in all their profundity, accessible only to the most devoted.

Paired with a more down-to-earth design team to translate his ideas (someone with a Valve mentality, perhaps) Ueda could change the world of games. But so far, he's been the master of the golden arrow. His ideas are so poignant yet so tediously executed that they create a certain cognitive dissonance in the player, inspiring not so much awe as transcendence, a deep need to puzzle over what went wrong and how to better it.
 

Prime crotch

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A nuisance to play? Both Ico and Colossus were hardly any bother to play or hard for that matter.
If he's talking about the horse controls I guess I kinda understand but not agree.
 

Danielsan

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Uhmm they were a joy to play and if he's talking about the horse controlls then he's simply a morron. Controlling the reigns instead of the horse was a great idea and once you grasped that concept it controlled perfectly.
 

TheGreatDave

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Here's some critisism; there's no reason Mario 64 should make a PS2 game look like a technical joke. That thing ran so damn poorly and looked so ugly in parts that it's unbearable to play. Remake it on PS3 and it could be a system seller for me. But on PS2 it was a huge disappointment. I just couldn't play it.
 

Amir0x

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i can't say that...

His ideas are so poignant yet so tediously executed that they create a certain cognitive dissonance in the player, inspiring not so much awe as transcendence, a deep need to puzzle over what went wrong and how to better it.
...this is true for me at all. In Shadow of the Colossus the only aspect where I complained about "where it went wrong" was the framerate.
 

Lord Error

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I really don't see how Ico or SotC are any less accessible to anyone than games Valve made. In fact, I think something like HL2 would be a lot more difficult to play to someone who's a complete newcomer to games.
 

Danne-Danger

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The only complaint I had with SotC was that the game was to ambitous for the hardware (i.e. the framerate issues) other than that, the game was an absolute blast to play all the way through.
 

Madman

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So he is criticizing him for being too untraditional? Ueda is the last developer I would ever criticize. While everyone else occupies themselves by staying in the box, Ueda is busy building a new box. SotC is really the only game I have ever played that feels engrossing.

This reminds me, I need to get ICO.
 

Bamihap

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I agree completely. His games are tedious as hell. Ico for example let me swing a piece of wood 300 times a minute to rescue a A.I.less silhouette. And SotC is nothing more then a arcady horse riding game with amazing boss battles.

His games lack diversity and a streamlined progression from beginning to end. But this doesn't mean his games are bad. They're not bad at all. Ico is outstanding in giving the player an emotional attachment with the game world and characters. And SotC is like a beautiful playable nightmare. But because the games focus more on conveying emotions and the core gameplay they're not really that enjoyable for casual gamers. They're more a personal vision, a love letter that can only be accessed by people who are open and willing to accept his dreams.
 

Firewire

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TheGreatDave said:
Here's some critisism; there's no reason Mario 64 should make a PS2 game look like a technical joke. That thing ran so damn poorly and looked so ugly in parts that it's unbearable to play. Remake it on PS3 and it could be a system seller for me. But on PS2 it was a huge disappointment. I just couldn't play it.
Holly cow, the game play wasn't that bad, it stuttered in places I agree but were was it ugly?
The game was just a bit to advanced for the platform.

Its easily one of my all time favorites based on so many good key ingredients.
 

Madman

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TheGreatDave said:
Here's some critisism; there's no reason Mario 64 should make a PS2 game look like a technical joke. That thing ran so damn poorly and looked so ugly in parts that it's unbearable to play. Remake it on PS3 and it could be a system seller for me. But on PS2 it was a huge disappointment. I just couldn't play it.
You have no soul.
 

TheGreatDave

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Firewire said:
Holly cow, the game play wasn't that bad, it stuttered in places I agree but were was it ugly?
The game was just a bit to advanced for the platform.

Its easily one of my all time favorites based on so many good key ingredients.
I don't really care if the game was ugly and ran well; I can overlook many ugly 3D DS games. But the whole thing was so sluggish and yet the ground textures still looked like ass half the time. I love the concept but after 3 hours I had to tell myself to stop trying to like it. Like I said, remake it and I'm there.

ICO holds up much better. It's better suited to the platform.
 

Oblivion

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Madman said:
So he is criticizing him for being too untraditional? Ueda is the last developer I would ever criticize. While everyone else occupies themselves by staying in the box, Ueda is busy building a new box. SotC is really the only game I have ever played that feels engrossing.
What? No, no, no. I love SotC, but aside from its ultra slick presentation I can't really think of something that displays its 'out of the box' game design.
 

dude

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I see what's talking about, and he's right; For example ICO's camera was terrible, it never showed where you were going, always getting in the way etc. But I found it a bonus, since it gave the game a cinematic feel, which is exactly what he's talking about.

On the other hand, it's very wrong in regard to SoTC: SoTC's button layout may be very confusing and takes a lot of getting used to, but once you do, it's a second nature and very fun. So I don't see any of that in SoTC.
Like Ueda said himself - ICO was not really a game, SoTC was.
 
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Great Art shouldn't always be easily accessible. Sometimes it forces you to think, and can even be frightening or confusing at first glance.
 

Wollan

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There's been a lot of complaints about various cult games out there and how they don't deserve the recognition. Luke Smith when he was @ 1up used to point out these titles on the podcast and I would agree with pretty much everything but there is one title that is not deserving of such and that is Shadow of the Colossus. That game was one of the peaks of gaming the last generation and it gave me some of the highest trills. I'm still stunned when thinking back on moments such as when the tiger boss runs into walls, how the room just shaked, sand falling..etc or how a bull boss just crushes through a cave after you bringing down everything... it's insane. And the art & music is perfect.
In terms of presentation, Shadow of the Colossus might have been the closest to 'next gen' among all of the games last generation, including titles such as GOW2 which technically runs better & probably pushes more data. Having a mountain tall giant try to hit you with a sword that just shakes the landscape is ridiculous. Perfect music, perfect art, perfect animation & weight, excellent story, thrilling gameplay, technical issues but it's amazing they got it running in the first place. If SOTC was built for the PS3 launch it would have gone down as probably the best adventure game ever made.
 

Raging Spaniard

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I thought the camera in Shadow was great, unconventional sure, most people just expected it top behave like it would in a game like Dynasty Warriors or God of War ... but the game was so unique that none of those camera systems would have worked anyways, something new was needed.

Once you understand that the camera shows you what you need to see and do, it stops being problematic.
 

BlueTsunami

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Bamihap said:
I agree completely. His games are tedious as hell. Ico for example let me swing a piece of wood 300 times a minute to rescue a A.I.less silhouette. And SotC is nothing more then a arcady horse riding game with amazing boss battles.
Wow, I thought I would never say it but you HAVE NO SOUL

Its that train of thought that brings down the enjoyment of any game. Boiling it down to its technicalities, thank god I'm not like this.
 

Madman

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Oblivion said:
What? No, no, no. I love SotC, but aside from its ultra slick presentation I can't really think of something that displays its 'out of the box' game design.
There is no one element to the game that makes it the way it is. I have never played anything that felt so engrossing. I could go into detail if you want, but the response will probably turn out to be huge.
 

BlueTsunami

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TheGreatDave said:
I don't really care if the game was ugly and ran well; I can overlook many ugly 3D DS games. But the whole thing was so sluggish and yet the ground textures still looked like ass half the time. I love the concept but after 3 hours I had to tell myself to stop trying to like it. Like I said, remake it and I'm there.
Sluggish? I felt the frame drop (dramatically) during boss fights but the whole game definitely wasn't sluggish.
 

Ragnarok10

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I don't he's talking about controls or anything as tangible as that. I think he's talking about the games lacking conventional story telling techniques and NPC's and that somehow Ueda's is taking the easy road when it comes to having to develop these parts of a game.
 

Lemming_JRS

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What I took away from the article was this: SotC is a brilliant game that prevented itself from gaining a wider audience through design decisions that, while they might have served Ueda's vision, did not serve the player.

Frame rate issues aside, SotC is not a game that most people, non-hardcore gamers especially, can just pick up and "get" right away. Does that make it a bad game? No. Does that prevent more people from seeing the entirety of Ueda's interesting ideas and vision? Yes.

Is that a shame? Maybe. On the one hand, getting more people to play games like Shadow of the Colossus instead of Space Marines on the Jungle Planet of Bloom is a good thing. On the other hand, it might mean diluting that vision to make it more accesible.
 

TheGreatDave

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BlueTsunami said:
Sluggish? I felt the frame drop (dramatically) during boss fights but the whole game definitely wasn't sluggish.
Going through the field, climbing up rocks, it just didn't feel fluid to me. I hated the horse with a passion, not because of the controls (they were fine) but because the frame rate just seem to stutter. Maybe it's a PAL issue or my PS2 was having trouble, I don't know. But the whole game just had this feeling of running slightly in slow motion.
 

BlueTsunami

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TheGreatDave said:
Going through the field, climbing up rocks, it just didn't feel fluid to me. I hated the horse with a passion, not because of the controls (they were fine) but because the frame rate just seem to stutter. Maybe it's a PAL issue or my PS2 was having trouble, I don't know. But the whole game just had this feeling of running slightly in slow motion.
Possibly is a PAL issue (I live in the US). It would suck if thats the case :/
 

Firewire

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Wollan said:
There's been a lot of complaints about various cult games out there and how they don't deserve the recognition. Luke Smith when he was @ 1up used to point out these titles on the podcast and I would agree with pretty much everything but there is one title that is not deserving of such and that is Shadow of the Colossus. That game was one of the peaks of gaming the last generation and it gave me some of the highest trills. I'm still stunned when thinking back on moments such as when the tiger boss runs into walls, how the room just shaked, sand falling..etc or how a bull boss just crushes through a cave after you bringing down everything... it's insane. And the art & music is perfect.
In terms of presentation, Shadow of the Colossus might have been the closest to 'next gen' among all of the games last generation, including titles such as GOW2 which technically runs better & probably pushes more data. Having a mountain tall giant try to hit you with a sword that just shakes the landscape is ridiculous. Perfect music, perfect art, perfect animation & weight, excellent story, thrilling gameplay, technical issues but it's amazing they got it running in the first place. If SOTC was built for the PS3 launch it would have gone down as probably the best adventure game ever made.

Well Said! & I agree!
 
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Eric-Jon Rössel Waugh lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his dreams and his clutter. Sometimes when the sun hits the leaves outside his window, he remembers fond times that never were. He also likes ice cream.
:lol :lol :lol
 

KTallguy

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Lemming_JRS said:
On the one hand, getting more people to play games like Shadow of the Colossus instead of Space Marines on the Jungle Planet of Bloom is a good thing. On the other hand, it might mean diluting that vision to make it more accesible.
Which is exactly what I don't want designers to do.
All this focus testing and making sure that the player never ever gets confused or sad or tired or frustrated is a bit much. Yes, you have to test your game to make sure it's not too hard or convoluted, but jesus christ, I feel like the new crop of gamers are force fed EVERYTHING nowadays. Anything tough? Confusing? Difficult? Just give up! Sell the game! Complain to the producer! Don't worry, it's their fault for making you try to think!

Sometimes frustration, confusion, sadness, or "not-fun" is ok in a game. It's ok in movies and books too, ya know.

I think once we have control schemes that are so logical and easy to use that there's no impediment there, designers are going to really be free to do something "real" with games. Then players will have no one to blame but themselves.
 

Pokeylongo

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I think Ueda needs more time and experience. He knows how to isolate the audio and visual aspect of games, but his gameplay needs work, simply put. SotC wasn't too bad, but there are definitely some puzzling aspects. The exploration is pretty mindless, for example. Ico, however, was wrought with annoying flaws. It was a good idea, but embodied tedium to the extreme. But with just two games, there was a big improvement in the gameplay, so hopefully his next project delivers.
 

Grayman

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TheGreatDave said:
Going through the field, climbing up rocks, it just didn't feel fluid to me. I hated the horse with a passion, not because of the controls (they were fine) but because the frame rate just seem to stutter. Maybe it's a PAL issue or my PS2 was having trouble, I don't know. But the whole game just had this feeling of running slightly in slow motion.
Sounds like it might be a pal thing. I'm usually a framerate whore but SOTC didn't bother me. The really noticable drops happened in times that it felt almost like intentional slowdown(like streetfighter after a knockout)

One issue your post made me think about more than framerate though is that the controls are not like other games. Pressing up doesn't move the character up it lifts the characters leg and starts to make a step.
 

Lord Error

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Oblivion said:
What? No, no, no. I love SotC, but aside from its ultra slick presentation I can't really think of something that displays its 'out of the box' game design.
I don't think there's been a game before where you climb onto living,moving things using the physics engine instead of some pre-determined paths. It's a pretty masterful combination of things I've never seen before (or even after) technically and as far as gameplay design goes.

dude said:
I see what's talking about, and he's right; For example ICO's camera was terrible, it never showed where you were going, always getting in the way etc.
Not really. It was actually almost always showing you where you're supposed to be going.
 

LAMBO

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He loves the game if he's still thinking about it. He's like a guy looking at the Mona Lisa and saying "she should be wearing a hat".
 

esbern

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Danielsan said:
Uhmm they were a joy to play and if he's talking about the horse controlls then he's simply a morron. Controlling the reigns instead of the horse was a great idea and once you grasped that concept it controlled perfectly.

if you're gonna call somebody a moron, at least spell it correctly or you look ridiculous
 

Visualante

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Really great read, it should be noted that Team ICO was formed predominantly from people outside the games industry. Hence the huge gaps between conventions.

I don't get the impression this guy is hating, just debating. y'all.
 

HandMeDownClown

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I love Ico, but I consider Shadow of the Colossus to be one of the most overrated games of the last generation.

The world is huge and the artistic design is pretty cool, but graphically speaking, it looks horrid. For all of the credit given to Argo's design (he was hailed as being ultra-realistic, though I've never seen a well-trained horse whip his head constantly like that), he was a total bitch to control. Riding him was unwieldy and even getting on him was a pain in the ass. I can't even count the number of times I tried to mount him only to jump in place over and over again. As far as ease and overall satisfaction goes, Epona absolutely kills Argo. The framerate is terrible, of course, and although a lot of the Colossi are fun to battle, that's all there is. Find colossus, beat colossus, writhe around in agony. Lather, rinse, repeat. It's a repetitive, shallow game.

Seeing as though Team Ico is an internal Sony studio, it's rather pathetic that the game had such technical shortcomings. They should know how to exploit that hardware better than anyone.
 

Ravidrath

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While I love SotC, I can see where this guy is coming from when you analyze the game from a purely mechanical point of view, where sums are always exactly equal to their parts. However, to analyze that game from a purely mechanical PoV seems to miss the point. Just because this guy might've made different choices doesn't mean that Ueda's choices were bad.

I feel this sort of criticism likely leads to cookie-cutter game design. For example, would more enemies have made the game more fun for more people? Probably. Would it have allowed the game to be as poignant, and deliver the feeling the director wanted to instill in the player? Probably not.

There's a famous actor that once said something like "Once you get famous enough, your mistakes and shortcomings become your 'style'", and I think that applies here. I feel that this sort of criticism ultimately advocates a loss of personal style, and pressure to move away from games being art.
 

Grayman

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HandMeDownClown said:
I love Ico, but I consider Shadow of the Colossus to be one of the most overrated games of the last generation.

The world is huge and the artistic design is pretty cool, but graphically speaking, it looks horrid. For all of the credit given to Argo's design (he was hailed as being ultra-realistic, though I've never seen a well-trained horse whip his head constantly like that), he was a total bitch to control. Riding him was unwieldy and even getting on him was a pain in the ass. I can't even count the number of times I tried to mount him only to jump in place over and over again. As far as ease and overall satisfaction goes, Epona absolutely kills Argo. The framerate is terrible, of course, and although a lot of the Colossi are fun to battle, that's all there is. Find colossus, beat colossus, writhe around in agony. Lather, rinse, repeat. It's a repetitive, shallow game.

Seeing as though Team Ico is an internal Sony studio, it's rather pathetic that the game had such technical shortcomings. They should know how to exploit that hardware better than anyone.
http://www.team-ico.net/sotc/index.html
 

SapientWolf

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Ravidrath said:
While I love SotC, I can see where this guy is coming from when you analyze the game from a purely mechanical point of view, where sums are always exactly equal to their parts. However, to analyze that game from a purely mechanical PoV seems to miss the point. Just because this guy might've made different choices doesn't mean that Ueda's choices were bad.

I feel this sort of criticism likely leads to cookie-cutter game design. For example, would more enemies have made the game more fun for more people? Probably. Would it have allowed the game to be as poignant, and deliver the feeling the director wanted to instill in the player? Probably not.

There's a famous actor that once said something like "Once you get famous enough, your mistakes and shortcomings become your 'style'", and I think that applies here. I feel that this sort of criticism ultimately advocates a loss of personal style, and pressure to move away from games being art.
I agree. ICO and SotC were the most 'pure' gaming experiences I've ever had.
 

HandMeDownClown

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Want to summarize your point for me?

It's still an ugly game that plays like crap. Concept is important, and SotC has an outstanding concept, but gameplay is (and always will be) the most important part of a game. Playing SotC is a constant struggle. You not only fight the colossi, but the camera, the framerate, and even your horse.
 

Salmonax

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TheGreatDave said:
Going through the field, climbing up rocks, it just didn't feel fluid to me. I hated the horse with a passion, not because of the controls (they were fine) but because the frame rate just seem to stutter. Maybe it's a PAL issue or my PS2 was having trouble, I don't know. But the whole game just had this feeling of running slightly in slow motion.
I know what you're saying, and I played the NTSC version. I'd be surprised to find out the game ran anywhere above 25fps at any point, and not at all surprised to find it ran as low as half that in others. I also found the controls clunky and the exploration mostly unrewarding (I could only find so many empty dead-ends before getting into "next boss, next boss, next boss" mode).

However, if I focus on the art direction, music, and scope of the battles, I think it's a gorgeous and incredibly creative game. A few of the Colossi battles are among the most memorable experiences I've had in gaming. I just wish I hadn't been fighting the controls and camera for so much of them.

Is it a bad thing when creativity and vision outstrip the actual playability of a game? I don't know. There are certainly enough highly playable games that exhibit little to no vision, and I can tell you I don't prefer them.