The Ico and Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection

Stop reading and buy this game. Well, these games, rather. Let’s think about this, you’ve heard of these games from your gamer-nerd friends, and they always tell you that you need to play them to understand game theory. What is game theory? Game theory, in one sense of the phrase, is basically this: if a game’s core mechanics are good enough, then it doesn’t need exposition or explanation. These two titles need neither, just a willingness to play.

Ico is about a boy that has horns growing from his head, and in his in village, that’s bad. So, the village authorities take him to a fortress where horned citizens are presumably kept in metallic holding pods until they die. Fortunately for our hero, he escapes his pod and begins to wander the fortress. He finds a girl being held in a cage and he frees her. The girl’s name is Yorda, and you have to keep her protected from dark creatures that try to take her away. The game play is interesting in that you have to move Yorda through verbal commands and direct touch contact. To get her to follow you, you call her over, grab her by the hand, and off you go.

In “Shadow of the Colossus,” you play Wander, a silent hero that takes the woman he loves across the world to a shrine to revive her. A voice at the shrine tells him that he must defeat 16 roaming colossi to bring her back. He sets off with his trusty steed, Aggro, to topple these golems of rock, organs, and fur. The tricky part is getting to the colossi, and then finally toppling them. It’s intense, amazing, and frustrating.

Now, since these are remakes that have been up-scaled to 1080p, the graphics are only slightly dated. It’s amazing how well they have held up after all these years, mostly due to their unique look that is in some ways timeless. If you’ve played these previously on the PS2, you’ll remember that the game chugged along, silhouetting the characters when you moved too fast. Not any more.

The game sings at a constant 60 frames per second, and the higher resolution allows you to see all the birds and turtles and every little nuance that the developers put into the game, which is a lot. From Yorda’s hesitance in running, to the birds that circle each colossus, the games both look spectacular.

Now, if you have a 3D TV you should really play “Shadow” with it on. No game could ever be made better with 3D other than this one. The scale of the colossi is brought properly into perspective in three dimensions. All the rocky crags of the stony beasts seem to leap right at you, and grabbing them makes the game seem more immersive, more tangible. What’s even better is getting tossed off of a Colossus and have Wander fly towards you and hit the ground with a crushing thud.

If you own a PS3, you need this game. Granted, the games are 5-10 years old, but holy smokes, it’ll blow your mind. W. If you played them back in the day, you’ll love the higher frame rate and 3D capability, and if you have never played them before, now you have no excuse not to.