When you call your development team after your first game it’s fairly clear that you hold it in great regard, and it’s true that both Ico and Shadow Of The Colossus (to give the second game its Western title) are great games – no doubt there. But the third game from Team Ico, The Last Guardian, could be the PS3’s most important title yet for one reason – Sony’s latest console doesn’t yet have a ‘cult’ hit.
I don’t mean a game that owners of other consoles are envious of (like, say, Killzone 2), or even a title that’s been reviewed with lower than usual marks but gamers found rather enjoyable anyway (like, say, EyePet) – I mean a ‘cult’ game that never really breaks into the mainstream (despite the best efforts of marketing and PR), doesn’t really set the sales figures alight but remains in the hearts and minds long after its release.
Both Ico and Shadow’ are this type of game. Print runs were relatively low, copies go for decent money on eBay and the games both scored in the 90%s on Metacritic so their critical standing isn’t in question, but the PS3 doesn’t yet have anything like this – anything that’s scored highly in reviews has generally sold strongly and there’s certainly nothing that counts as a ‘collectible’ unless it’s a ‘collectible’ version of a game.
Naturally, Team Ico (and Sony) don’t want The Last Guardian to be a cult hit, they want it to sell like Buckfast at Hogmanay, but I’m a stickler for tradition and really want this new adventure to be utterly brilliant but I don’t want anyone else to play it – selfish, perhaps, but for me a cult game is one that people only pretend they’ve played but secretly have no idea what it’s about or even what type of game is it.
Like Ico and Shadow’, then. The next time you’re online and kicking someone’s backside around Helghan ask them about Ico. They’ll say it’s an amazing game but ask them who Yorda is and they’ll put on a silly accent and jumble up their words – this is how I want The Last Guardian to be – I want Team Ico to make the game for me, ship it to me and then destroy the masters. I want it to be my cult hit.