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View Full Version : FC14: Ico | Part one: gameplay


Parish
01-08-2008, 10:09 AM
This is where you do not discuss story spoilers! Only gameplay! Use your common sense to decide which is which.

Ico
Sony | PlayStation 2 | Adventure | 2002

I'm finally going to play beyond the first hour of this game. It looks so, so good with PS3 backward compatibility.

P.S. Screw you for killing PS3 backward compatibility, Sony. Screw you to death.

spineshark
01-08-2008, 10:28 AM
Maybe I will finally finish this game! Maybe not. Last time I played, as I recall, I was in the huge room where you climb around the outer wall. I then managed to fall back into the sewers in the previous room and I thought I was stuck. After about five minutes Yorda was in distress so I finally decided to try and get out...and the whole time I could've. I didn't make it back up in time so I took some time off. Whoops.

Traumadore
01-08-2008, 10:59 AM
Well besides taking about 5 minutes to find out you could climb a chain in the second room of the game, the controls were a breeze.

I don't know what it is but the jumping in this game is spot on. When I think about how many times I died in Tomb Raider games from missed jumps it just makes me happy how little it happened in Ico. I wish my PS2 wasn't on loan right now, but i'll get it back!

Crested Penguin
01-08-2008, 11:54 AM
Oh cool, an excuse to play through this game again! I haven't played it in such a long time I'll probably get stuck a few times.

Thinaran
01-08-2008, 12:21 PM
I sold mine. And it was the European cardboard special edition with art cards, to boot!

taosterman
01-08-2008, 01:13 PM
Well besides taking about 5 minutes to find out you could climb a chain in the second room of the game, the controls were a breeze.

I actually had to use GameFAQs to figure out how to reach down and pull Yorda up from on top of a ledge. After that, the game's logic began to feel more intuitive to me.

Stiv
01-08-2008, 09:30 PM
I've got to say that this thread is pretty useless. Ico's actual gameplay is paper-thin, which is why I often wish it were just a silent film or something instead.

admozan
01-08-2008, 10:18 PM
When my late-60s parents got a PS2 last year, I sent them my copy of Ico because I figured it was a game my mom could handle and enjoy. Nope. Couldn't even get past the first room. Some things never change, I guess.

Merus
01-08-2008, 10:27 PM
I could never get a hang of the controls for the spaceship, but the tank's controls were much easier for me despite being more complicated. Did anyone else notice that this game only has about three verbs, and that I'm just trying to confuse everyone with the talk about spaceships?

Parish
01-08-2008, 10:56 PM
I've got to say that this thread is pretty useless. Ico's actual gameplay is paper-thin, which is why I often wish it were just a silent film or something instead.
I HAVE TO SAY YOU'RE PRETTY USELESS

Anyway, I didn't have much gaming time tonight, but I made it to the front gate for the first time. I never realized this game has story cinemas beyond the first few minutes. Weird.

I nearly killed someone in frustration after trying to figure out how to get past the room before the trolley section, but once I realized there was no way in hell Yorda was going to climb a chain things became much easier.

locit
01-08-2008, 10:58 PM
I think everyone has the same "Dammit I was supposed to do that?" sort of moment when the game (for the most part) clicks.

Despite being incredibly simplistic at first glance, Ico is a terrible game for beginners. Terrible. I have heard countless retellings of the following story, pretty much verbatim:
X doesn't play games, and Ico is great and simple, so I got X to give it a try to see if it would open X's eyes to how great games are. For some reason X didn't get it even though it is so simple! WTF?
This happens almost without fail. Nongaming parents, girlfriends, whomever you please. Ico is not the game you want to hit them with right off the block. Animal Crossing is.

spineshark
01-08-2008, 11:08 PM
Yeah, because Ico doesn't come out and tell you what to do. It's like the old days, where you press buttons and find out what their functions are, and then you start figuring out how to play the specific parts of the game. I lost twice in the first room with Yorda because I didn't know what to do...and I liked it. I think when a game tells you how to use/do X action, you're more likely to forget later on than when you needed to figure it out yourself.

I wish more games could not have HUDs. I also love that.

Stiv
01-08-2008, 11:11 PM
I HAVE TO SAY YOU'RE PRETTY USELESS

Nice Rock and Rule (and by extension, Cheap Trick) reference there, boss.

Anyway it's true! The gameplay is simple (but there are more than three verbs - they just happen to be ingeniously context-sensitive) and that's what makes Ico so elegant in a lot of ways, but I really feel like the gameplay is completely in service of (and only exists to) get Ico from Beatiful Place A to Beautiful Place B. I love the game's design aesthetics and how simple it is to play, but while actually playing the game I kept having the feeling that it really would be more fun to just watch than play which is the game's greatest shortcoming - it's not actually a game! Shadow of the Colossus dealt with that issue handily while introducing a whole slew of new and exciting problems.

Anyway this is why I'm somewhat hesitant to pick up the game again for Fun Club discussion, but it's such a brisk play that I might do it.

locit
01-08-2008, 11:15 PM
I think when a game tells you how to use/do X action, you're more likely to forget later on than when you needed to figure it out yourself.
Exactly. Connections that you make are much more substantial than those you're told about. They're also much more rewarding, at least for me.

I personally think Ico's gameplay is vital to the experience because it increases the player's emotional involvement in what happens onscreen.

Dadgum Roi
01-09-2008, 08:45 AM
This happens almost without fail. Nongaming parents, girlfriends, whomever you please. Ico is not the game you want to hit them with right off the block. Animal Crossing is.

My wife, who is not generally a gamer, adored Ico for its visual style and the way that the gameplay is structured around helping and protecting Yorda. She was also able to participate by helping to solve the puzzles while I worked the controls.

Stiv
01-09-2008, 08:47 AM
I personally think Ico's gameplay is vital to the experience because it increases the player's emotional involvement in what happens onscreen.

Why? I think it's thrilling and involving enough to just watch, which is a compliment to the game as something special - just not as a game. I think it'd be a significant failure if you could only care about what's happening if you're actually playing the game.

locit
01-09-2008, 07:00 PM
My wife, who is not generally a gamer, adored Ico for its visual style and the way that the gameplay is structured around helping and protecting Yorda. She was also able to participate by helping to solve the puzzles while I worked the controls.
And that's pretty encouraging! I'm not saying it can't happen, but even in this example she wasn't actually playing through the game- though hopefully it encouraged her to play others.

I've watched Ico being played an enjoyed it, but mainly because it meant someone else was having as much fun as I did the first time I played it- figuring out the puzzles, getting freaked out when Yorda gets carried off, etc. While I did enjoy looking at the more scenic areas, they didn't look at the same sort of stuff I did, and took a much more pragmatic, A to B approach. At the end they still thought it was an amazing game even though their experience was slightly different from my own, which I think is something that a movie can't offer.

Crested Penguin
01-09-2008, 10:40 PM
My wife beat Ico in one sitting, back in the day. Oh yeah.

Anyway, I am embarrassed to say it, I actually got killed by shadows! They wacked me off a cliff. I think this is their first kill on me ever.

I had a flash of realization when leading Yorda around. The interaction with Agro in Shadow of the Colossus derives a lot from interaction with Yorda. The AI is actually pretty similar, there's heavy use of rumble to give you a tactile sensation when you are in contact, AND there is a whole button devoted to Agro/Yorda in both instances. The bond also feels similar, though I think I felt more bonded to Agro since Agro was more capable.

The interesting difference between Agro and Yorda is that Agro could steer you around to some degree, whereas you drag Yorda around - a bit forcefully when you run.

Stiv
01-09-2008, 11:06 PM
This game's AI and controls are extremely awful, which is unacceptable for a puzzle-platformer based on guiding some blind girl around. Why, exactly, do people love Ico so much?

I was having more fun with it than the first time I played the game, but then I got to what I distinctly remembered as the most frustrating part of the game, ever and would quit playing right now, but I know I'm only about 40 minutes from the end. So I might as well tough it out tomorrow evening.

Kishi
01-09-2008, 11:21 PM
As with Shadow of the Colossus, the controls are only janky in the sense that your character's movements are more grounded in reality than in most games. So, yes, he stumbles after a running jump and follows through too much when he swings his enormous wooden cudgel, but there's a reason behind it.

The AI I never struggled with at all. Yorda always did what I wanted her to do, although she usually took her sweet time doing so.

Makkara
01-10-2008, 12:54 AM
The interesting difference between Agro and Yorda is that Agro could steer you around to some degree, whereas you drag Yorda around - a bit forcefully when you run.

Yeah, that was a nice detail. I remember I actually used to start running gradually, just because I didn't want to be a jerk who keeps yanking on this poor girl's arm, when she's too polite to even get angry about it.

Dadgum Roi
01-10-2008, 07:36 AM
And that's pretty encouraging! I'm not saying it can't happen, but even in this example she wasn't actually playing through the game- though hopefully it encouraged her to play others.


She thought of it as playing. She was participating actively by helping in part and sometimes entirely with the puzzles.

The way in which Ico can be participatory without having to manipulate a controller makes it ideal for someone who might be interested in its aesthetic and narrative conceits.

Brickroad
01-10-2008, 07:42 AM
Yeah, that was a nice detail. I remember I actually used to start running gradually, just because I didn't want to be a jerk who keeps yanking on this poor girl's arm, when she's too polite to even get angry about it.

When someone refuses to turn and run when being chased by demons from hell I don't care if they think I'm being impolite while yanking them away.

"Those firemen pulled me off the ninth story of that burning building, but they were so rude."

Kishi
01-10-2008, 07:43 AM
The non-NTSC-U/C versions of the game also allowed a second player to play as Yorda, and since Yorda doesn't exactly have much to do in the game, that could be used as another way to involve non-gamers.

Dadgum Roi
01-10-2008, 08:04 AM
The non-NTSC-U/C versions of the game also allowed a second player to play as Yorda, and since Yorda doesn't exactly have much to do in the game, that could be used as another way to involve non-gamers.

That's interesting; I did not know that. I find assymetrical cooperative play to be really interesting and potentially a great way to introduce people to games.

Parish
01-10-2008, 10:20 PM
Man, I keep wanting to kick this game in the groin. I don't have a problem with the "realism" of the controls -- I like that Ico is pretty clumsy. I do have a problem with how finicky the environmental interaction is, though. I keep trying to do things I find logical only to discover the engine won't let me... and then become stumped for half an hour, only to check a guide in frustration and learn that I had it right the first time but the game inexplicably wouldn't let me do it because I wasn't touching a hot spot just so.

I think I probably should have played this when it was new. It feels kinda primitive in places that likely wouldn't have irritated me quite so much five years ago. Like the camera. Oh, god, the camera.

It's a good game, mind, just... notably imperfect.

Lumber Baron
01-10-2008, 10:48 PM
I had the same trouble with any puzzles that required severing ropes. I ended up twiddling my thumb and pressing the stick button indiscriminately hoping to randomly stumble onto the precise angle the game required.

Traumadore
01-11-2008, 12:00 AM
I was having more fun with it than the first time I played the game, but then I got to what I distinctly remembered as the most frustrating part of the game, ever and would quit playing right now, but I know I'm only about 40 minutes from the end. So I might as well tough it out tomorrow evening.

Is it climbing up from the underground lake...Oh man.

Parish
01-11-2008, 12:06 AM
Oh yeah, and fighting off the shadow creatures isn't stressful or tense (at least not so far). It's just tedious... they take so many hits before giving up, and you reeeeeally have to screw up before they'll fully capture Yorda. Like, "run to the next room and wait around" screw up.

liquid
01-11-2008, 12:11 AM
It's not always possible, but when shadows attack you're best off just grabbing Yorda and running for the door.

Alastor
01-11-2008, 12:44 AM
It's not always possible, but when shadows attack you're best off just grabbing Yorda and running for the door.

Seconded. When I realized that getting Yorda to touch those magical statues vaporizes every shadow dude in the room, some sections became much less tiring.

estragon
01-11-2008, 05:01 AM
Against my better I judgement, I bought my Overpriced PS2 Upscaler and Wireless Controller Device today (I hear you can also play PS3 games on it?), and, man, does this game look criminally good.

I have all the puzzles memorized so it goes really quickly if I rush through, but I'm finding myself stopping just to look at stuff that just looked grainy and/or blurry on all my PS2 play throughs.

Also, this is the first time I've played the game on okay speakers rather than terrible ones. I never noticed how great the sound design is here. The constant wind in the beginning of the game is fantastic.

Egarwaen
01-11-2008, 07:36 AM
I keep trying to do things I find logical only to discover the engine won't let me... and then become stumped for half an hour, only to check a guide in frustration and learn that I had it right the first time but the game inexplicably wouldn't let me do it because I wasn't touching a hot spot just so.

I think I probably should have played this when it was new. It feels kinda primitive in places that likely wouldn't have irritated me quite so much five years ago. Like the camera. Oh, god, the camera.

Speaking from experience, it probably still would've irritated you five years ago.

Especially the camera.

taosterman
01-11-2008, 10:24 AM
Oh yeah, and fighting off the shadow creatures isn't stressful or tense (at least not so far). It's just tedious... they take so many hits before giving up, and you reeeeeally have to screw up before they'll fully capture Yorda. Like, "run to the next room and wait around" screw up.

Yeah, that was the one thing that really bugged me about the game. But once you get some more capable weaponry they only take a couple of hits.

I didn't find the detection system all that annoying, with the exception of jumping on some of the chains. If anything, when I played, Ico managed to make a lot of jumps that a lot of other games would have tossed me into the abyss for.

Lumber Baron
01-11-2008, 12:38 PM
Here's the thing with the camera: just because you can move it doesn't mean it's a good idea. When I left the camera alone and stopped trying to crane around, straining to see everything I was a happier person. Usually the relevant information is presented on-screen without the need to mess with the camera.

VorpalEdge
01-12-2008, 01:35 PM
I don't know, there's some pretty awesome-looking scenery that you have to move the camera around to appreciate. Especially when you're running around the outer walls and look down and see the sea a couple thousand meters below you. In that respect I liked how the camera didn't hover behind Ico by default: they usually placed it such that it could capture better imagery than it would if it was, say, an ocarina of time style camera.

But I will agree: moving it was almost never necessary to actually play the game. I would have liked being able to zoom in more though.

Merus
01-12-2008, 06:29 PM
Is anyone else getting a real Sands of Time vibe from this game? I swear that Ubisoft Montreal took a lot of cues from Ico. There's a similar aesthetic of the castle in the middle of nowhere that you clamber around on, particularly in the outdoors segments, and much of the gameplay is putting together how you're able to move around the room and what sorts of things you'd be able to do with the scenery, halfway between figuring out devices in Myst and working out your path in Sands of Time.

The rooftop does an excellent job of forcing an appreciation of the castle on you - you can see the bridge you crossed, and over there is the coffin chamber and where you found Yorda; over there is the circular garden that's your goal (a suprisingly distinctive little place - I guess because the game's so brown that any colour ends up standing out).

I've had no issues with the camera, and in fact, I quite like it. It's weird that you can entirely detach the camera off the boy (I'm playing entirely blind, so I don't know the boy's name) and use it to look around surprisingly far, and honestly I'd prefer to see it in more games. Combined with the zoom button and the ability to have it snap on Yorda, I've been quite content with the camera. There's a couple of tricks I've noticed they use where they enforce a camera angle on something that's affected by a switch, like a door, and then when you press the switch they show the door opening with the same camera angle. It helps make the doors visually distinctive. I'd like to see something like Zelda try the same thing, have enforced, distinctive camera angles for the doors, if they're going to continue to insist on showing me a cutscene of a door opening every time I press a switch, then zoom back to where I am.

I've already given up on combat - it's mostly there for the purposes of driving the story, I think, rather than actually being something for gameplay, and I was convinced the courtyard's enemies were respawning (fuckin' courtyard, I lost Yorda about three times because the shadow monsters kept going to the furthest shadow portal away from me and I couldn't get there in time) so I figured, right, let's just run. I ended up discovering that getting Yorda to open a door stops their attack there, and honestly I think it's a better gameplay system than forcing me to fend them off with my little wooden stick by hand. I would have preferred it if they'd gone down that path, made the shadow monsters constantly respawn, and the only way to stop them was to find the blocks that Yorda can open.

The font is terrible. It's the wrong resolution or something.

Adrenaline
01-12-2008, 08:11 PM
Is anyone else getting a real Sands of Time vibe from this game? I swear that Ubisoft Montreal took a lot of cues from Ico. There's a similar aesthetic of the castle in the middle of nowhere that you clamber around on, particularly in the outdoors segments, and much of the gameplay is putting together how you're able to move around the room and what sorts of things you'd be able to do with the scenery, halfway between figuring out devices in Myst and working out your path in Sands of Time.

I definitely saw Ico in Sands of Time, and I think there's no way its wasn't heavily influenced.

Parish
01-12-2008, 08:35 PM
I'm playing entirely blind, so I don't know the boy's name
It's... it's Ico.

I think I'm at about the halfway point. Things all clicked for me and stuff at the East Reflector -- I finally got a sense of how the castle is arranged, how the goals are arranged. It all started to feel like a real place. Woo.

alexb
01-12-2008, 08:45 PM
The font is terrible. It's the wrong resolution or something.

It's a bit tall, yes. As for the resolution, the entire game runs at a pretty low resolution. Might even be 320x240, which is what most PS1 and earlier games ran at. But if that's what they had to do to make it run smoothly, that's a fair trade. I wish they'd done the same with SotC.

Stiv
01-12-2008, 09:59 PM
I have big problems both with the game's camera and how 'flat' the landscapes look under low-light conditions, which didn't lead to any unfortunate deaths, but did lead to me doing the water-wheel puzzle near the end of the game two or three times (beating out my first play-through number of something like 15). The controls just feel very imprecise to me and the camera is often fixed in a weird or inconvenient place, which gives the impression that the game really was thought of as more like a silent film than an actual game.

I enjoyed it more than the first time I played it, though, except for that fucking water tower puzzle, which is where the controls pissed me off the most. That still annoyed the hell out of me.

Merus
01-12-2008, 11:37 PM
I'm playing the PAL version - apparently there were improvements made to Yorda's AI and the camera, as well as some changed puzzles. Yorda will also occasionally point to things she sees and thinks you should know about as well - I've had her point to a box in the graveyard that was well outside my field of view. I'm told that the PAL version also has, for second playthroughs where you get Yorda's script, a new option that allows you to put movie-like effects over the screen, graininess and skipping frames, that sort of thing.

Of course, the PAL version also has the Japanese cover, with the windmill and the decent art. The Americans really got gypped here.

I do think it's very cute how Yorda moves around when you're not looking at her. She stays in the same room, but she'll kind of anticipate what you're doing when you're clambering around and will get into position, and she'll wander around and have a look at the view.

Kishi
01-12-2008, 11:54 PM
My favorite interaction with Yorda is how she gasps in fear whenever you accidentally strike a wall with your weapon. Makes me feel guilty every time.

Stiv
01-13-2008, 11:16 AM
The more I think about it the more I realize that the reason I probably don't like this game was that I played the NTSC Region 1 release. That's retarded and at least Shadow of the Colossus got handled better.

Speaking of which, is that next week's Fun Club?