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Top game designers pay tribute to Ico on its 20th anniversary in Japan


NeoGAFs Kent Brockman

The latest issue of Japanese gaming bible Famitsu includes a huge feature on the game’s development, which has been accompanied on its website by a number of tributes by famous game designers.

In the article, Naughty Dog co-founder Neil Druckmann states that Ico is his favourite game of all time, calling it “a true masterpiece in the history of video games”.

“The central mechanics (the hand-holding) and the design of the puzzles create a sense of bonding that can only be experienced in a video game,” Druckmann explained. “The beautiful and poignant narrative gives a rich context to these game systems and makes for a deeply emotional experience.

“The art direction and level design envelop the player in a sense of solitude and shadowy charm. Music and sound are understated but very impressive. All these carefully crafted elements come together to create a work of art, and an influential one at that. Ico a source of inspiration and my favourite game of all time.”

“My game Super Smash Bros Melee was released on November 21st of the same year, so we were born very close to each other,” Smash Bros director Masahiro Sakurai added, noting that he and Ico creator Fumito Ueda are also the same age.

“[Ico is] a game that shows a view of the world from a high place, that stands out and is obvious to those who are not on the outside looking in. This is the opposite of the style of Kirby and Smash Bros, which I’ve described as ‘hills with low heights and wide fields’.

“It’s the fact that each person faces a different direction that makes them valuable. We support Mr Ueda and the staff who believe in him and follow him to create a unique work.”

No More Heroes creator Suda 51 praised the game’s unique save method, in which Ico and Yorda have to sit on a stone couch together to save the game. Suda stated that this was his inspiration for saving on the toilet in No More Heroes.

“Isn’t the sofa special? It’s soft and comfy, and when two people sit there it saves. In the days when auto-save was still a luxury, I considered [Ueda] my rival for creating such a stylish save point.

“I decided to create a new save point that would be as good as the sofa, so I joined the ranks of chair-based save game designers like Ueda-san with the toilet save. One day I’d like to borrow a sofa save too, so if you ever want to use a toilet save, don’t hesitate to ask.”

Rez and Tetris Effect creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi recalled that Ico was the first game he played after completing Rez.

“I can still vividly remember sitting in my empty office at the end of the year, holding the girl’s hand and feeling strangely immersed in the game,” he said. “I felt sympathy for that strong sense of authorship as a creator living in the same era, and it was very encouraging.”

Film director Guillermo del Toro also pays his respect for Ico in the article, explaining what he thinks is the game’s main message.

“The games created by Ueda create a unique sensation thanks to a world that draws you in, spiritual elements and adventures that remind you of values such as love and goodness,” he explained.

“The designs in the works highlight the story and the ideas behind the story, and highlight the importance of the protagonists. Brilliantly crafted, polished and gracefully illuminated, the scenes in the work reflect important thoughts, emotional connections and wonderful sparks.

“Ueda-san’s interest is not in whether the player wins or loses, but in the important thoughts that are put to the test and the inspiration to play the game.

“Ico is a fantastical journey through a world created by the senses of light, by the stories and cartoons that have been handed down through the ages, by the paintings of de Chirico.

“But the journey also teaches us that the reason we are in this world – be it game or reality – is to save our friends.”
I didn't play this until a couple of years ago on the PS3. The sad thing is, this masterpiece hasn't green preserved for future generations who might want to experience this. Not many people are going to be willing to grab a PS2 or a PS3 just to play this.




Gold Member
Ico showed off the creative potential of the PS2. Something you didn’t see in a lot of console games at the time. Ico’s style is definitely influential even if you point out its flaws. Shadow of the Colossus was my personal favorite, but there wouldn’t be SotC without Ico.


Candy Corn Aficionado
Still remember the OPM different which is a little different from that scene in the final game. I'm not sure Sony will ever fund a project like Ico again.
That’s interesting. I don’t think i will ever not be able to read ICO as Eye See Oh. I don’t pronounce words which look like acronyms and i don’t pronounce acronyms unless they’re really common. So it’s always Eye See Oh.

I tried playing this game in the early 00s but it was so clunky and everything felt misdirected. I remember one of those penny arcade kids who draws the comic i don’t think it was the bald one happened to make a happy comic about this game. It was then i realized the otaku fantasy of leading a girl around to protect them while wearing shorts and sandals had come to fruition.

Only shortly after there were drawings being passed around the chon of someone who looked like an otaku pretending to enter into situations irl to protect the helpless female from the shadows while imagining themselves as the Eye See Oh hero. It was always my understanding that the shorts and sandals wearing protagonists goal was to rescue the girl and then sit in a lawn chair drinking lemonade still wearing shorts and sandals while the rescued woman makes squeak noises to appease the otaku. Then again I never understood the appeal of this game. I think it benefitted people in japan more than it caused westerners to think games are art.

Some day i might return to you Eye See Otaku when i am very old to try and understand the appeal. Until then you will remain as ICOtaku, I do not wish to rescue the female


The nicest person on this forum
When The Last Guardian was coming out I replayed ICO and I was expecting to find gameplay to be “dated” but I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. I go as far as say that I enjoyed the gameplay loop of ICO more than Shadow of the Colossus.
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Nostalgia hits hard with this one.

I was 13 when I first played Ico on my PS2. It felt so unique and unlike any other game I had played before.

It’s shame that there is no way to play this natively on PS4/PS5 (other than PS Now).
The Character animation was soooo good. Just look at the games of the time and see how the characters walk lol.

truly a masterpiece and has a special place in my heart
When The Last Guardian was coming out I replayed ICO and I was expecting to find gameplay to be “dated” but I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. I go as far as say that I enjoyed the gameplay loop of ICO more than Shadow of the Colossus.
I enjoyed ICO more than Shadow of the Collossus too. Granted I played them both for the first time years later, especially after the scope of massive enemy's was coied by just about every game since then, it wasn't as impressive when I played SOTC.

Plus, I feel the puzzle structure of ICO is timeless compared to the latter too.


Gold Member
Ico is a very peculiar game. I never loved it much - there’s a handful of situations in the game that are particularly obtuse for no reason other than the camera is especially obnoxious and they couldn’t be bothered giving you the option to shift it to a different angle to, you know, actually be able to see what the hell you’re doing. It’s quite ironic that Ico was one of the shiniest examples of what Sony had brought to the table with their hardware, a nouvelle vague of games that seemed to be taking the industry towards new horizons, only to completely shift towards western mainstream cinema-wannabe games that need every character to be voiced and arrows and pointers everywhere. Ico is a true video game, in the sense that it relies completely on what it shows rather than tell you stuff, but it also requires the player to be highly trained in the language of games, otherwise it’s pretty hard to grasp. It’s also supremely boring, unless you’re really taken in by its atmosphere and minimalistic presentation.

It’s a powerful example of a game that strives to hit the player on a deeper level, but it’s also far from a good example of gameplay. It’s a product from a time when this kind of game could have AAA production values and be seen as such, but it’s not a mystery why the mainstream has shifted completely away from this kind of game and this kind of experience comes mostly from the realm of indies today.


Love ICO, but SotC is even better and my GOAT.

Too bad Sony stopped investing in those more diverse, experimental games.

Dreams, Concrete Genie, Death Stranding.... I would even say Destruction All-Stars and Returnal.... All safe bets, right?
Man I remember that sweet time period, near the end of 2016 in which I played the Ico and Shadow of the Colossus collection on PS3, and after I beat both I jumped right into The Last Guardian which I think was new at the time. I really enjoyed the feel of Ico, the story, its atmosphere, gameplay, etc. I love how this game is that game that game devs are inspired by, as the OP shows. When a game dev is inspired by Ico you know they have great taste. This game's beta content rivals RE4's as some of the most fascinating cut content of a video game ever as well. I remember after beating Ico, I was looking up theories on the story and whatnot and came across a forum essay post about a story theory...what a devoted fanbase this game has. And Ico's theme song, absolutely sublime!

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Werewolf Jones

Gold Member
Greatest game ever. Neil D's favourite game is Ico? DAMN, hope he's reading this. I got your back for life with that one bro.

I still own my PS2 copy and felt like revisiting it. The bridge scene makes me cry every time without fail.

EDIT: Just ordered the Famitsu copy as well.
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Can’t bad mouth ICO due to its central influence in what I believe to be the best PS2 game, Shadow of the Colossus. It is truly unique and an off-beat note for an industry that routinely plays it safe.
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