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…of the Decade: The Moment (Shadow of the Colossus‘ First Colossus)

December 29, 2009

I had never played Ico. Still haven’t, actually — Ico remains one of the glaring holes in my gaming experience. I’ve heard everything about how majestic it is, how it redefines platforming, how it forces (or, at least, forced) the player to re-evaluate what one looks for in a video game, but I wouldn’t know about all of that, because I’ve never seen it.

Perhaps this is what made me cannon fodder for Shadow of the Colossus‘ attempts at “epic”. I didn’t know what to expect going in, I’d gotten the game as a gift (thanks Eric), I was playing it out of something like a sense of obligation — it was something I’d been interested in, but wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit for. I spent some time walking around, I spent some time getting used to riding that horse, and then I set out to wherever the gleam of sun on sword would take me.

If you’ve played it, you know: There’s some horseback riding, there’s some mild platforming, but for the most part, it’s just traversing empty space, and it lulls you. It’s a relaxing experience. Eventually, though, you climb your way to the top of that cliff, and there it is. The first colossus. Valus. The thing is huge. Most games’ end bosses aren’t this huge, and it’s the first thing you fight.

Now, granted, Valus is easy. He allows the player to get used to the controls and the mechanics of the game. He’s a tutorial colossus, really. But that moment that you first see him…your heart skips a beat. It’s a moment of awe, trapped in a game that was a modest-at-best commercial success.

That it’s not the last colossus in the game to provoke such a response is just gravy.

(This entry was inspired by Chris Dahlen’s post detailing his 10 Best Gaming Moments of the Decade. If you haven’t read it, go read it. Those are the moments that make being a gamer worthwhile.)

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