Team Ico Talks: Fumito Ueda on The Last Guardian, Shadow of The Colossus

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Fumito Ueda is a name well known to most PlayStation fans. After directing the iconic PS2 games Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, Ueda-san fast became one of the most celebrated figures in international game development. Now he’s working on a new game, the boy-beast buddy adventure The Last Guardian. If you missed the new trailer released one week ago at the Tokyo Game Show, you can watch it below.

While in Tokyo, I had the pleasure of speaking with Ueda-san about The Last Guardian and his upcoming PS3 compilation Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection. I knew that getting a lot of firm details about a game as enigmatic and ambitious as The Last Guardian would be no easy task, so I decided to focus my questions on learning more about how the game plays, its core mechanics, and nuances I spotted in the trailer. Ueda-san’s replies provide a rare glimpse into one of 2011’s most intriguing games.

Sid Shuman: How would you describe The Last Guardian to somebody who had never seen it before?

Fumito Ueda, Director, The Last Guardian: It’s not a pet game, but there is a live animal in the game. I would describe it as an adventure game that you play with this animal.

TGS: Fumito Ueda InterviewTGS: Fumito Ueda Interview

SS: Will you control the boy, Trico, or both?

FU: You can only control the boy.

SS: What can you tell us about the boy? Does he have a name? Is he on a quest of some sort?

FU: The boy does not have a name…yet. The goal of the boy is to escape from the location you see in the trailer.

SS: Judging by the video, Trico appears to be be a powerful force in combat situations. Is there a combat element to The Last Guardian? How does it work?

FU: As you saw in the video, Trico is able to defeat an enemy with one swipe. So in that sense, he functions as a guardian of sorts. But the boy is unable to defeat the enemies on his own — that’s the gameplay element involved.

SS: What can you tell us about the enemies we’ve seen in The Last Guardian? In the trailer, they appear to almost fall apart like statues…

FU: I can’t give you any details about the enemies. But I will say that they are not acting fully out of their own intentions.

SS: Is Trico the only creature of that size in The Last Guardian’s world?

FU: Again, I can’t give you any specific details. But there may be something like that out there…

TGS: Fumito Ueda Interview

SS: Shadow of the Colossus was known for its unusual control scheme. Will The Last Guardian follow suit with its controls, or will the controls feel familiar to players?

FU: The actual method of controls and button layouts have not been decided yet, because it doesn’t take much time to change the control scheme. But because we’re using the theme of an animal for The Last Guardian, I also want people who are not serious game players to try out this game. So I want the controls to be simpler than before.

SS: Many game journalists — and even the entry on Wikipedia — have described Shadow of the Colossus as one of the best examples for video games being an art form. How does that make you feel? Do you agree?

FU: I’m happy about it, I’m flattered. But I wonder what part are they are referring to when they make that comment, that it’s art. What part are they looking at? Because I think it’s possible to make it even more artistic. But because it’s a video game, those possibilities have been subdued somewhat — it’s a game. So I’d be interested to know what part, exactly, they mean when they refer to it as art.

There are games out there that are much more artistic than Shadow of the Colossus. And personally I also believe that it would be possible to make it even more “arty,” so to speak.

Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection

SS: What other games do you think represent a good argument for games as art?

FU: I guess it depends on how you define art, of course. But in a Japanese conception of the term “art,” it’s thought that it might be something that’s difficult to understand, or complex. Or something unique or uncommon.

So given that definition of art, maybe it’s a little detrimental to actually name any titles.

SS: You were asking why so many people name Shadow of the Colossus as an example of art. I think many people would answer that it’s because players begin to sympathize with the Colossi…

FU: So it makes you think — I understand.

Comments are closed.


14 Author Replies

  • So excited for The Last Guardian! I still love and play Shadow of the Colossus and am very excited to finally play Ico (in HD!) after all these years.

  • yay! I’m finally gannna be able to play Shadow of the Colossus and ICO when it comes out for ps3 in HD..

    nice interview by the way

  • I will not read this Q&A :)
    I remember reading a Q&A for Shadow of the Colossus and that Q&A took out some of the surprises for me. So I will not read this. I want to be surprise when I first play The Last Guardian.

    I just watch that new trailer again…yep, I still was tearing up. :)

  • An interesting Q&A. One of the more enjoyable reads I’ve gotten out of this blog.

  • ^.^ So much love put in each and every one of these games ^.^

  • Can’t wait to play ICO for the first time. I am a huge fan of SotC!

  • Nice interview Sid keep up the good work.

  • Fumito shows why he is one of the best out there by his comment regarding Shadow of Colossus being foremost a game.

    Art is often an obnoxious creation that does not have as its purpose to entertain. The reason why Shadow of Colossus is great is because, while Fumito Ueda is an artistic person, he clearly understands the medium of games, he understands that selfishly trying to make art instead of focusing more on making a game would create a product that few if any gamers would enjoy.

    Fumito tak a a bow, you are the god of games.

    • Yeah, I was impressed by his take on that topic. He came across as very humble about his past accomplishments — accomplishments that would have many other game developers bragging endlessly! (^_^)

  • Given all the time and effort that goes into producing a A-list video game these days, I think the more pragmatic questions and answers are far more interesting than putting a developer on the ‘is it art?’ hook.

    • Glad to know that. I was definitely most focused on trying to learn more about how TLG plays — but the game is pretty far out, so those details are hard to come by. I’d always wanted to ask Ueda-san about his feelings on SotC’s legacy. I’m usually ambivalent about the “games as art” questions, but SotC deserves special consideration. It’s probably the most emotionally moving game I’ve ever played, so I had to ask!

  • now i have a need i didn’t have before…i had anxiety for a lot of games…and now this, my head will explode! this game looks terrific even for a PS2 games in nowadays in HD will be EPIC X 4 (double epic each game)

    • SotC holds up very well. If it came out tomorrow on PS3 for the first time, it would still look cutting-edge. Not many games can stand up to that test!

  • Cannot wait! thanks for the coolio interview Sid, hope to see way more TGS content heading this way~

    • Thanks much! We’re wrapping up the majority of our TGS coverage this week on the Blog, but thanks for the kind words and we’ll keep this in mind for next year.

  • great interview and this is one of my most anticipated games

  • Looking forward to both the Collection and The Last Guardian.

    Much respect to Ueda. One of the best in the business.

  • I had SotC around the time the Adam Sandler movie Reign Over Me was on DVD and my wife wanted to know about SotC because of the movie. I joyfully played if for her. She loved the movie and it got her into the game, too. Now we can’t wait until The Last Gaurdian come out. Thanks Ueda and Team Ico!

  • Interesting interview, thank you.

    I will be looking at this title and also will get the Ico, Colossus combo.

  • Been a long fan for both great games can’t wait for the enhance version of the classic for the ps3! and especially The Last Guardian as well! Looks promising and another PS3 Great Hit!!

  • The man, the legend.. I bow to you sir.. Nice interview. I’m brimming with anticipation for TLG.

  • I can’t wait to play through ICO again. I have the origional copy on the ps2, unfortunately I can’t find the wires for our old ps2 and my ps3 isn’t backwards compatable so I wasn’t able to finish it.

  • SotC was awesome. I also did not finish it, and have never played Ico. I can’t wait for the collection to drop.. $ for $ the best purchase you could make on the ps3. (excluding MGS4 ofcourse). :)

  • I would say that the elements that make SoC and Ico as well more like art than some games is how beautiful the visuals are, and how “clean” the screen is compared to other games (i.e. the health bar isn’t in SoC isn’t too intrusive, and you use the sword instead of a HUD). There’s also the sense of scale involved in fighting the Colossi. I would say, SoC is art less in the vein Ulysses or The Scream and more in that of the Odyssey or Journey to the West.

  • Dear ICO,

    Thanks for taking all my money next year. 100 dollars gone, mind blown, shirt ruined from drool and hours of sleep lost.

    Looking forward to exploring these games again and the new one.

    I can taste the lizard tails now.

  • Sid Schuman haven`t finished SotC yet?
    You should be ashamed.
    Go get your PS2 right now, and finish it.
    One of the best games ever made. If not THE BEST GAME.

  • nice interview and i am excited about the last guardian but ive been waiting for shadow of colossus and ico to come to ps3 im getting them the day they hit the shelves.

  • Great stuff. I only have one complaint with these games. We only get so little info of whats happened. I would love to know more about these world and the people that inhabit them.

  • Trico looks sooo cute. Love it already :D

  • TLG is going to be epic. Can’t wait to play it.

  • I am so getting the Ico Collection and Guardian

    Hey, Sid…
    Do you think, just for this article, you could change the rating part from “(Average: 4.86 out of 5)” to “(Awesome!: 4.86 out of 5)”

  • So eager to replay both ICO and SoTC on the PS3 in HD. I’m sure they will both look gorgeous. Hopefully the Last Guardian will hit during the 2011 holiday time frame, but I’m not holding my breath.

  • Haha, I love how he rudely cuts off the interviewer and then the interview just ends.

  • How old is Fumito Ueda, he seems young and how can such a young guy think so far outside the box and make such games of pure genius??

  • Why do I get the impression Team Ico has just recently started to actually create the gameplay for TLG… I want my game NOW!

  • Can’t wait for TLG and the HD remakes..ok made my daily comment here. Back to playing with Move!

    Oh but…FFXIV beta and LBP2 beta, hurry up with some news!!

  • Can’t wait to play all three games. I remember when I first got my PS2 and got the demo disc from OPM with Ico on it. First I thought it was such an unusual game. But looked so awesome.

    SoTC just blew my mind with its scale. But sadly neither one of these games I played. But will for sure be getting the collection and Last Guardian.

  • Thats hot and nice interview by the way Sid,and you haven’t beating SOTC don’t want to spoil anything but the last boss man…if you like game music.. wait you heard a bit of the song that plays during the last boss during the beginning of the ICO/SOTC trailer for the PS3!Back to that Boss it’s kinda a sad battle because the music pulls you into that scene and it makes you sympathize for that last Colossus fighting to live.So i will say what everyone has grab a PS2 or a compatible PS3 and beat that gem!

  • MASTERPIECE, absolute MASTERPIECE!!! SOTC is my favorite game of all time, so you can just imagine how much I’m anticipating TLG, thank you Fumito-San and company for your creativity and your amazing vision!!! 8)

  • “I also want people who are not serious game players to try out this game. So I want the controls to be simpler than before.” I hope this is implying that the game will have (but not require) Move support. Either way I won’t be disappointed, but the more games I can play with Move the happier I am.

    Also, I think that the art in SotC is portrayed in it’s minimalism. It’s like an amazing Haiku of videogames. You have a sprawling empty world with only the boy, the girl, the horse, lizards, birds, the god, guards, and the Colossi. And somehow with only these 9 elements, the game manages to capture your heart and imagination, provoking a variety of human emotions from the player.

  • Is it taking Longer to make TLG becouse of the Remade versions of SOTC and ICO?

  • Fumito Is Sony’s very own Miyamoto. Any game he works on is pure magic. Whatever they pay him, it’s not enough. I know people who would sell their other console boxes just to play a new game by this master. Thank you Fumito for further elevating video games into the atmosphere of art.

  • Not one of the questions was answered, it was always a “I cant tell you…” or “Its not decided yet…”, ect.

    I want the collection. >:/

  • This article and these games are so full of awesome.

    I’m asking for a Last Guardian dynamic theme now so Ueda can start thinking about it for launch next year. Think of the possibilities…

  • Sweet!! more info on the Last Guardian on my Birthday?

    I could cry right now……

  • Great article but the most important question to have asked is if Sony is rushing TGS to meet a deadline or release date. I hope Sony is respecting the pace of the development team. This is a game i don’t want rushed, so I don’t want it until the artist confidently brushes his last stroke. Some companies are notorious for rushing games to deadline. I don’t think Sony is (Heavy Rain was definitely not rushed, and the quality shines) pressuring Team Ico, and that’s incredibly important.

  • Wow, I think this is the most info about the game out there so far.

  • Mind = blown

    Can’t wait to pre-order my copy of the Collection. Think it is easy to blind buy The Last Guardian too. That is huge considering that we don’t even know that much about this game. This guy and his team are pure genious. His modesty is admirable, and makes him one of my two favorite people in the gaming biz(The other is Hironobu Sakaguchi). Great interview Sid.

  • I just wish ICO and SoTC on ps3 were coming out before xmas, I’m gonna run out of games during the holidays and then have too much to play in the spring

  • No downlodable version? :(

  • Fumito Ueda is seriously one of my heroes. This was a great Q&A and thank you so much for posting it! I wish nothing but the best for Team Ico and Mr. Ueda & I hope The Last Guardian is a huge success for them!

  • How long does it take to remaster a game in HD

  • I love Ueda, the Ico studio, and their games, I can’t wait for this! No other studio is capable of what they have done, its sheer brilliance.

    Great job on the interview

  • When Ueda asks “But I wonder what part are they are referring to when they make that comment, that it’s art.” – for me, it’s not a singular aspect that makes SOTC or ICO an artistic work. Instead it’s the entire game, how the gameplay works with the story, and how those are in service to the graphics, create something magical.

    The way SOTC/ICO leverage the unique qualities of video games as a medium, like the simple idea of “control”, and in turn subverting player expectations (you immediately save the princess in Ico, or you only fight bosses in SOTC) elevates Ueda’s work beyond disposable entertainment.

    I’d argue his work is more like “literature” than it is “art”, but mostly I’m glad they exist, and that we have a new game to look forward too.

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