i_smell's Wander to Kyozou (PlayStation 2) review

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A 5-star game when it came out, and it's still PRETTY CLOSE!

There are 16 colossus, and no other enemies or characters. You might think that sounds really short, but It's not. There's about as much game here as any other linear action game.

There are 2 halves to it: Finding the colossus, and fighting the colossus.

Finding it is where you explore the world and climb up mountains n castle ruins, old broken temples, caves and other cool places. The world environments are massive and mysterious. Climbing walls and riding your horse both feel tactile and solid n heavy-- The animation and sound is all REALLY natural and gives the characters a tonne o life.

Fighting it is where you face the colossus. They're all very different and individual scenes; one is a snake, one's a bull, one's a giant bird and so on. Some are in the sky, some are underwater. Back in 2005, the giant colossi (they really are GIGANTIC) were things that nobody'd ever seen before- but by now you've probably already played God of War 3, or that Castlevania game, or something similar. EVEN SO, Shadow of the Colossus does the idea of climbing giants better than any other game. The climbing system feels very natural and open, and the colossi feel like believable living characters instead of just pattern-based boss fights. Again, a lot of effort was put into the sound and dynamic animation in this game, and it makes everything feel alive and genuine and real.

Some side-notes are that there's a lot of hidden tricks in this game. It's never explained in a tutorial, but finding lizards and fruit trees in the game-world will boost your health and grip (how good you are at climbing). You can boost those to at least 5 times what you start out with, and that's fun to track them down and upgrade.
The horse, and your character, are some of the best dynamic animation work in any game I can think of. They fall, stagger and stumble, slide and roll all over the place, and you're not IN CONTROL of the horse as much as you're just INFLUENCING which way it's going. It's fantastically ahead of it's time if you're interested in that kind of thing.

It's not an RPG, it's not ground-breaking any more, it's not surprising any more, and it's not an art game.

Shadow of the Colossus is interesting, unique, and VERY well made. Everything here has a great tactile feel to it, a strong feeling of living, human personality, and a fresh mysterious game world. Which-- surprisingly is pretty rare in games.

When you beat it you get exploding arrows, it's sick as fuck.

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