Ico Facts: Our Best Selection
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Most development studios that have been around for about two decades have made at least five games, maybe even ten. Team Ico has made two and a half, or however much of The Last Guardian is actually finished by now. Their very first game, Ico, captivated its audience with a unique artistic take to its style and gameplay that was uncharacteristic of games at the time. To shed some light on why that is, we’ve wrangled together ten interesting facts about Ico.
Ico came about as an idea that director Fumito Ueda had on making game about the popular trope of “boy meets girl”. Such a concept would be voiced by the two characters holding mitts the entire game, and not being able to communicate directly. This is why Yorda’s dialogue used the symbol-based subtitles rather than an actual language that people can understand.
Albeit, technically, if you indeed dreamed to, you can actually translate everything Yorda says. Each symbol represents a single letter as indicated by the pic itself. For example, A is an ant, T is a tree, and, well a lot of them are open to interpretation. Albeit, even if you translate them this way, you’ll only end up with the words in rearwards Romanji, the romanized version of Japanese, only sometimes they’ll be missing vowels. Sounds like a lot of work to me, but then again, most things do.
Ueda realized that the idea of “boy meets girl” being the driving theme for a movie game was pretty vague, so he put together a three minute movie demonstrating his vision. In it the damsel has horns instead of the boy, and there are armored robots firing at a castle. I have to wonder, did they switch who had horns before or after they got rid of the laser robots?
In case you didn’t notice, there’s only one type of enemy in all of Ico: those shadow things. This was done as a result of the teams design method which they called “subtracting design”. Delivering on the theme and the narrative was of the utmost importance, so any gameplay that interfered was scrapped. In retrospect, Ueda says they might have subtracted a little too much.
Both of Team Ico’s games, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, feature the shadow creatures, but factually speaking, they have nothing to do with each other. There’s all kinds of theory crafting done by the fans into whether or not the creatures are linked. They’re undoubtedly significant to understanding the worlds of both games and they look the same, but they’re actually not.
In a response to criticism that Ico’s combat may have been too simplistic, Ueda said that, “Ico’s battles were just one way to create situations in which the player protects the doll. So, I thought that the battles should not require the player to be very skilled.”
Yorda, as well as the narrative surrounding her, went through a duo switches even beyond the vision movie where she had horns. In the very first movie demonstrating the switches brought by the PS2 version, Yorda can be seen with a purple dress and ponytails. Around this time the story was about Yorda being kidnapped by horned, masked warriors and Ico had to comeback her to her room. Presumably so she wouldn’t be late for dinner.
One utter production had begun on Ico, the team determined to go with manual keyframe animation as opposed to motility capture. However, two years into development, Ueda was dissatisfied with what they’d made thus far. To avoid throwing the project entirely, they switched it to the PlayStation Two, essentially solving all of their problems at once.
In Europe and Japan, the cover art for Ico was inspired by surrealist Giorgio de Chrinco’s “The Nostalgia of the Infinite”, as noted by the color palette, architecture, lighting and, well, pretty much the entire thing. Ueda felt that the surrealism in the painting matched with the allegorical world of Ico. It certainly fits the game more than the North American box art, which a Sony executive may have contributed to its poor sales there.
There is a novelization of Ico called Ico: Kiri no Shiro, written by Japanese author Miyuki Miyabe out of appreciation for the game. “Kiri no Shiro” translates into “castle of the mist” which is the setting for the events of Ico. While largely a direct interpretation of the game’s narrative, Miyabe also provides the back story and alternate perspectives for the characters not featured in the game.
That’s all ten facts! I hope you loved being led through this escapade and told things at every turn. Hopefully all the handholding wasn’t weird but now that you’ve been released from captivity, should you happen to stumble on any facts about Ico that we didn’t mention you’re welcome to share in the comments below. Thanks for reading, TGN Central fans, and we’ll see you in the next one.