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What’s in Your Box: 1/2 Guardians

/ Dec 31st, 2016 No Comments

Each week, we here at Gaming Illustrated are always playing a number of different video games. However, we may not be talking about them in reviews or editorials. That doesn’t mean they aren’t worth talking about, but for any number of reasons an avenue to speak on them doesn’t come up. To remedy the issue, we’re going to ask our staff (and you, honestly) what’s in your box?

What’s in Greg’s Box

Well boxers here we are, a new year is upon us, but let’s be frank, we’ll still be playing out the same tired old games we always do because it is in our nature. Unless of course you are of the glorious PC master race and threw your wallet at Steam like it had a gun.

I’ve been slowly wrapping up the show on Paper Mario: Color Splash as well as Final Fantasy XV, but my main love still falls in Heroes of the Storm, an easy to pick-up game with fast matches.

Shantae 1/2 Genie Hero still graces my PC monitor, while thanks to the one and only Kalvin, Shantae also graces my PS4 via Shantae and The Pirate’s Curse as well as Shantae: Risky’s Revenge.
 

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse

Greg’s got three wishes from his 1/2 genie.

I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy a wide variety of games, across multiple consoles and genres. With this being the last What’s In Your Box of 2016 I ask you, fanciful readers, to take this resolution with me:

Share your love of gaming with those closest to you. Don’t just tell friends about games you enjoy, but invite them over, find online ways to share and do whatever you have to do to make sure gaming transcends the medium and becomes a uniter.

What’s in Kalvin’s Box

As we hurdle toward 2017, I pause and take time to appreciate a game nearly a decade in the making. My lovely girlfriend thoughtfully got me the Collector’s Edition of The Last Guardian, and this week I finally got a chance to sit down and truly marvel at this breathtaking game.

Finally!

If 2016 is anything it is the year of cathartic game releases. The year boasts not only the release of Final Fantasy XV, but also The Last Guardian. Both games’ developments were protracted to say the least. Each was initially slated to appear on the PlayStation 3, but after nearly a decade apiece they finally launched on the PlayStation 4 this year. Often I felt they would never come out, but I was pleased I got to play both before the New Year.

More so than Final Fantasy XV, I was hesitant and worried about trying out The Last Guardian. FF XV was far more transparent about where it was going and giving fans an idea of what the final product would ultimately be. The Last Guardian showed off bits of footage here and there, but mostly kept quiet. Small details like it being a bit of a platformer, puzzle game with a heavy emphasis on the relationship between Trico and the boy were hinted at, but nothing to prepare you for what the game would actually be.
 

The Last Guardian

The game’s opening tips off you’re in for something special.


My worries were assuaged early on into playing The Last Guardian. Knowing little about the story, and mechanics were beneficial as it allowed all these aspects to hit me at once both arresting me and surprising me. Fumito Ueda has been one of my favorite video game creators for a while. Both Ico and Shadow of the Colossus were once-in-a-lifetime experience. While I haven’t finished The Last Guardian, I feel it definitely has the opportunity to be up there. It has such a perfect sense of place and emphasis on atmosphere.

In a lot of ways The Last Guardian feels like a mix between Ico and Shadow of the Colossus in ways. The game has a strong focus on a mechanical relationship between the boy and Trico where both need to rely on each other to get through the labyrinthine castle similar to the relationship between the boy and girl in Ico except Trico is obviously more capable if less pliable. The puzzles, atmosphere and relative powerlessness of the boy is also very reminiscent of Ico. Where it feels like Shadow of the Colossus is how the boy scales Trico and climbs. There is a lot of verticality and platforming in the game that feels like an updated take on the climbing mechanics in Shadow of the Colossus.
 

The Last Guardian

Regardless of how helpful Trico is, you can never forget he is an animal and as such flighty as they tend to be.


While it does feel like Ueda’s prior games, it never feels reductive or rehashed. There are common themes that run between these games and it is so strong it is hard not to find parallels. One of the things I love most about Ueda’s games is the pure sense of wonder they inspire. Like the first time you run into the girl sitting in a cage at the top of a giant spire in Ico, or the first colossus you scale in Shadow of the Colossus. There are plenty of those moments in the hours I’ve played so far of The Last Guardian. The most obvious one starts off the game when you have to gain Trico’s trust for the first time.

The relationship between Trico and the boy is both inspiring and infuriating at times. It is beautiful how they build trust and affection the longer they are together with Trico being more helpful the more time he spends with the boy. Yet there are still moments when you realize he is an animal with his own wills and wants. Sometimes he’ll roam around looking at stuff instead of helping you get up to a ledge you need to climb to finish a puzzle.
 

The Last Guardian

The boy and Trico’s relationship builds slowly over the course of the game.


One of the things that really took my breath away early on was when I realized Trico is an intelligent creature. I was out of ideas on how to proceed in an area and hopped on Trico’s back then he immediately lunged forward and jumped into another area of his own will. He knew and saw something I didn’t helping me continue forward. The relationship is never one sided though because as much as Trico protects the boy, the boy calms and soothes Trico or helps open up paths for him that only he is small enough to get through. Their relationship matures and grows in some magnificent ways, which is also reflected in the mechanics stemming from the care and love put into making the game.

It may have been nearly a ten year’s wait, but The Last Guardian was more than worth it. Hell, it is nice to experience another one of Ueda’s evocative and moving stories again.
 

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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