I’m generally skeptical about remakes. It’s not that I mind bringing relics of the past into the present – that’s largely an objectively good thing as it introduces younger viewers to the games that have influenced their favorite series. I think what constitutes “needs a remake” can be obscure – but Ico is undoubtedly a game in need of a remake.
If something is extremely dated, difficult to buy, and even more difficult to play, it should be considered a viable candidate for remake treatment. There are other factors worth acknowledging here as well – Demon’s Souls was a PS3 game and was actually pretty robust on the original hardware. You can’t ask a 16-year-old to buy a PS3 on eBay for a game, however, especially given the ubiquity and importance of its much more prestigious sequels. Whether you approve of the final look, tone, or feel of the game, making it available to PS5 owners is undeniably valuable. It helps that it’s brilliant.
Obviously, anyone with the remotest interest in gaming should probably try to take the time to play Metal Gear Solid at least once. The fact that the games are quite old and mostly require older hardware puts them on a similar playing field to Demon’s Souls, although I’m not sure it will require more remake than other games that meet the same criteria. Ico, while relatively niche and rarely discussed today, would benefit a lot more from being introduced to new audiences – after all, it’s one of the games that defined games as we know them today.
Directed by Fumito Ueda, Ico was Team Ico’s debut prior to Shadow of the Colossus and The Last Guardian. It turns 20 this September after originally launched for PS2 in 2001. If you still have a PS2 on hand, fair game – you’re one of the few people in the world who can run Ico natively. The fact is, though, that most people – younger gamers especially – don’t have access to this hardware, and I’m not sure you’ll convince a grumpy teenager to part with their pocket money for a machine with fewer pixels than Ratchet’s left ass cheek .
But it’s important that people play ico, right? I mean, check out Breath of the Wild. Check out Journey, Fez, or basically any other seemingly minimalist game over the past two decades. Ico took inspiration from the book by legendary French game designer Eric Chahi before introducing Ueda’s iconic “Design by Subtraction” principle, which can be seen in both Shadow of the Colossus and The Last Guardian. It has proven that games are inherently magical and that they can work in unique and wonderful ways without resorting to handicapped displays or constant battle sequences. The design is much more varied and I think anyone who’s played Ico will agree with me. It is one of those rare and precious games that has changed the way games are made, and to this day there is nothing like it – despite the effort that each game actively tries.
That is why it is important to make it available on newer hardware, to update its systems in such a way that they are conducive to modern progress without reworking them in such a way that the original artistic vision is damaged. I’m not asking that Ico and Yorda, the main characters in the game, be redesigned to look like Ubisoft protagonists. I say to smooth out Ico’s outdated mechanics, but not to change them. I say to improve frame rate, load times, and visual fidelity without sacrificing art direction. If there is one thing that Bluepoint is good at, it is with perfect skill that it manages to pull beloved games from the past into the present. I mean, just check out the PS4 remake of Shadow of the Colossus – it’s a brilliant homage to the original vision, but the overall gaming experience is just so much … nicer. It feels the same in terms of sound and atmosphere, but looks more modern – the overall playing effect is improved exponentially.
Personally, I’ve always found it a bit strange that Shadow was remade before Ico, considering how much the former was inspired by the latter. Yes, Shadow was always Team Ico’s golden goose, but Ico is the goose that laid the egg. Right now there are teenagers all over the world playing all sorts of different games, some of which will inevitably become the next generation of developers – it feels strange to think they could be missing out on Ico just because the original version seems so mysterious likes Someone watched Red Dead Redemption 2 or Outer Wilds. These two games are radically different games, of course, but that’s my point – they’re so emphatically modern and up to date with contemporary gaming standards that no one would keep an eye on the others who were playing them. Ico, on the other hand, would probably turn the head of anyone who isn’t under the age of 30 in game development or game media.
I don’t want to pick on metal gear by the way. I’ve written a lot recently about Death Stranding for what it’s worth, including how more games need to learn from using music and why I realized I needed a PS5. I like Kojima – no matter how intricate it may be – and I would love to play these games in a new, nifty form. But I would be dishonest with myself if I pretended that Metal Gear remake rumors are what I want to hear the most when it comes to this type of development, especially at Bluepoint. After Shadow of the Colossus, I wanted Ico. After Demon’s Souls, I still want Ico. If another project gets the green light, I’ll definitely want Ico instead. I can’t think of a single game from the last two decades that more deserves being dragged forward to today, and until I get my Ico remake, I’ll keep screaming about it like my life depends on it.
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About the author
(883 published articles)
Cian Maher is the lead feature editor at TheGamer. He has also published work in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Verge, Vice, Wired, and others. You can find him on Twitter @ cianmaher0.
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