HD time heals all wounds.
OK, so… imagine two of the out-and-out prettiest games of the PS2 era. Take those games, shine them up really nice, have them play exactly the same—flaws and all—and put them both on one disc for a not-standard-full-retail price, and you've got a damn fine concoction of two of the greatest artistic games to come out… ever.
I'm talking about Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, by the way. Y'know, in case you didn't get it from the title of the preview or the opening sentences.
For the initiated, a quick run-down of the stories for each game: Ico is about a
horny young man young boy with horns who picks up a ghostly chick and tries to help her escape a mysterious castle. Along the way, shadows try to steal the girl for an unknown reason. Likewise, Shadow of the Colossus is all about protecting the girl, except that she needs saving by killing and taking the power of 16 Colossi to bring her back to life.
Director Fumito Ueda's design philosophy of "design by subtraction" is fully showcased; there is very little dialogue in both games, just enough to set the scene. Beyond that, it's up to the player to move forward and figure out the world they're in.
Looking back over the originals, I could see how the developers got away with the beautiful visuals, especially in Ico; a lot of blur and light fogging is evident looking back on them. They're pixelated around their edges and the framerate is a bit compromised, but that doesn't negate the face that they have a style unlike anything else on PS2. Thankfully, the muddied image the PS2 managed has been touched up to an amazing degree on PS3, and they now look as though they belong on a next-gen platform. I know that's the point, but not every game can pull it off; both Ico and Shadow can, and that's damn impressive on its own.
The only real addition is of trophies, and they're pretty standard fare: defeat this or that Colossus, find this or that weapon, finish the game in a certain amount of time (really, Ico in two hours? WTF?).
Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection is scheduled to release in late September, and in the Ueda way... that's all you need to know.