Top 100 Games of All-Time: #94

Shadow of the Colossus

Release Date: October 18, 2005

Platform Played On: PS2

2018 Placement: #75 (-19)

shadow-of-the-colossus-playstation-2-screenshot-meet-the-first

What It Is:

Shadow of the Colossus is a revolutionary game that took the idea “what if only boss battles?” and made it artistic and compelling. It’s you and your horse Agro versus sixteen colossi and each one a different puzzle. You have a sword and a bow and your climbing ability and that’s basically it – there’s no skill trees or RPG elements. Each colossus has a weak point and it’s up to you to figure out how to tackle each fight.

The world itself is empty except for the colossi, so the time between battles is mostly spent enjoying the vistas as you ride Agro to your next destination. There are occasional map puzzles forcing you to figure out how to get to the next colossus, and there are lizards to find and kill to add to your stamina, but not much beyond that. The simplicity of the game’s objective is deliberate and intended to be part of the appeal.

Why It’s Important to Me:

I remember sitting down with my friends and us taking turns at tackling different colossi. Collaboration was a huge part of my experience with this game, as some of the colossal battles made us scratch our heads until we all collectively went “oh!” after somebody cracked the code. It was exhilarating to take down a colossus with an audience who collectively breathed a sigh of relief when the final hit took the giant down.

It’s such an elegant game that existed before the time of “systems” and “skill trees” and turning every game into a numbers-go-up simulator to get the endorphin shots from EXP bars completing. The art style is beautiful and each colossus is designed so well – from the environments you fight them in to how they move to what you have to do to defeat them. And they feel like majestic creatures – I remember coming up to the first colossus and just watching it move for a while before even attempting to go after it. It was just such an impressive game when it released – it stood out from what was being made at the time and even now no game really comes close to evoking the same feelings.

My Strongest Memory:

The fifth colossus was when the game went from good to holy shit god-tier for me. The battle takes place in this large lake area that is filled with ruins. You swim inside the ruins and climb up part of them, only to see a giant bird-like colossus fly past you. It’s breathtaking and shocking at the same time – up until this point the colossi have all been walking around and getting on them has taken some form of climbing up their limbs. But this creature is flying! How are you supposed to tackle this?!

The journey of figuring out how to climb onto this colossus is just the first part. Then there’s the absolute terror-inducing part of hanging onto its wings for dear life as it flies around the lake. You have to Spider-Man your way across its back as it soars through the air, flapping its wings, turning left, right, and upside-down, circling around while it (and you by proxy) defies gravity. All while an epic score of music is playing over your feats. It’s the stand-out colossus for me simply because of how awesome it felt to tackle the entire scenario.

Why It’s #94:

This game is so important to me I’ve bought it three times: the PS2 version, the PS3 collection of it and Ico, and the PS4 remake by Bluepoint. And yet…I’ve only played it fully through once. I made it through two or three colossi on the PS3 before stopping and one of my biggest PS4 shames is never even installing it after I bought it – I have yet to touch the remake. Am I scared that it won’t deliver the same epic, emotional beats it did my first time playing? Do I just have problems revisiting games nowadays, regardless of how I feel about them? Whatever the reason, while Shadow of the Colossus is an amazing game that’s also a work of art, I find myself unable to place it higher due to my lack of motivation in replaying it. Maybe it’s a game I relegate to fond memories. Or maybe I just need to bite the bullet and play the PS4 version and fall in love all over again.

The 2020 Manatees: Written Companion

So every year for Make Me A Gamer we do a podcast with our Game of the Year content, and every year I also do a write-up of my games of the year as a companion piece. This year we went over my top 5 of the year in the podcast itself, and here I’m gonna expand to my top 10 along with a few honorable mentions.

Nothing else to say, just good ol’ year-end summary of games content coming. Here we go!

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Top 100 Games of the ’10s: #100-91

So if you haven’t been listening to the Make Me A Gamer podcast, you’ve been missing out on the fact that I’ve composed my top 100 games of the decade list – from 2010-2019. I’ve been doling out a few numbers here and there as part of our Countdown Cauldron segment and while I won’t be going over every number in the podcast, I did promise to write up companion pieces that outline all the games.

In the podcast we’re working through sets of 10. We started with 100-91 and in the most recent episode moved to the 81-90 set, which means now it’s time for me to release the first group of ten. I tried writing up my Top 100 games of All-Time a few years back and ended up burning out in the 60s, so I’m going to try and keep the descriptions a little more brief so I don’t fall into the same trap. I will note the ones that were discussed on the podcast (and link to the related episode) and keep those even briefer.

Without further ado, #100-#91 of my personal favorite games of the 2010s.

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Post PAX Game Impressions

Last year I was only able to go to PAX East for two days out of the four so I wrote up each day separately. This year I was able to go all four days and used that time to go to panels, games, and meetups.

I may write about the panels and meet-ups in another post, but this one will exclusively be about the games I played. I got to 18 different games over the 4 day weekend. Is that a lot? I don’t really have a perspective, as I also watched about a dozen other ones without actually having any hands-on. I’ll try not to wax poetic too hard on each and every game as I don’t want this to take forever, but without further ado here’s all the games I played at PAX East this year!

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The 2019 Manatees – Written Companion

So if you haven’t listened yet, last week myself and my partner in crime HarveyZ recorded our Game of the Year podcast where I handed out my Manatees for 2019. In that I outlined my top 5 games of the year and talked a little bit about each. Like last year, I also wanted to put up a companion blog post to add some written words about why I enjoyed each game and also flesh out the games to a full top 10 and a few Honorable Mentions.

Most of these are going to be games I’ve talked about already this year, but a few are games that I always meant to talk about but slipped through the cracks (at least on the writing and podcast side). I hope you enjoy this last blog post of 2019 and I’ll see you in the new year with all sorts of new games, posts, and ideas!

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Movie Theory: Return to The Last Jedi

This weekend I watched The Last Jedi for only the second time – and the first since I originally saw it opening weekend in theaters. I’d stayed away from it because, well let’s face it, Star Wars discourse has gotten heavy over the last two years. I’d enjoyed the movie and for a bit was a hell-or-high water defender against the trolls. But eventually it wears you down and my enthusiasm for everything Star Wars diminished. I wrote posts on my initial feelings on The Last Jedi and about some of the harassment that Kelly Marie Tran faced last year.

But between The Mandalorian and Jedi: Fallen Order this year I’ve gotten the Star Wars bug again. So going into episode 9 I thought I’d refresh myself and rewatch The Last Jedi to see how I felt about it two years later. And I’m pleased to report that it’s still a good movie. In fact, it’s a great movie.

Let’s dig in, shall we? (Spoilers for The Last Jedi, obviously.)

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The Force Awakens: Repost

A few weeks after The Force Awakens released in 2015,  I wrote a blog post summarizing my thoughts on it for a different blog. As The Rise of Skywalker is about to hit theaters on Friday, I thought it would be pertinent to look back at my feelings on it. I’m reposting it in its entirety, unedited, here to start what will hopefully be a week of Star Wars blogging leading up to the movie’s release on Friday.

So here’s a look back at what I wrote in January 2016. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing my thoughts on The Last Jedi after I rewatched it this weekend, then on Wednesday and Thursday I will be talking about The Mandalorian and Jedi: Fallen Order. I’ll probably have thoughts on Episode 9 as well, but likely not until the new year as I’ve waited a bit after each movie before posting my thoughts. Anyway, enjoy this blast from my writing past:

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The Case Against Fail States

So I’ve been thinking a bit and I’ve decided that video games need to rethink the “game over.” In fact, I think the idea of a fail state in games is an unnecessary holdover from the games where you had lives and continues. Yes, having a game over and having to restart from a certain point adds challenge to the game. But in general, with the way games are developed nowadays, often times the fail state just adds aggravation to what is otherwise a wonderful gaming experience.

The problem, of course, is that most games are based around death. Killing enemies to progress is a large chunk of gameplay loops, and the easiest way to add challenge to the loop is for the enemies to, you know, kill back. Health bars/indicators/numbers are the main tracking agent and when you hit 0, time for a fail state to show you didn’t live up to the challenge!

But, and bear with me here, what if that wasn’t the case? What if we figured out a way for games to keep their challenge but eliminate the need to make the player feel bad because they didn’t shoot the guy with the one-hit KO attack fast enough? What if we eliminated the silly QTEs that if you missing pressing a single button you have to do an entire sequence over again?

I’m going to talk about some games that have recently opened my eyes to how good a lack of a fail state is, and how some games have been hindered because of fail states, and how some games have given you an illusion of a fail state but don’t actually have one and that’s what games should try to live up to.

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Plot of Thrones: Stumbling At The Finish

I didn’t watch Game of Thrones until the eighth season. I’m watching this final season because my girlfriend is semi-invested in the finale and wanted a companion to watch with. “But why would you spoil yourself?” C’mon son. The internet has spoiled me on every major event and most characters, so I know all the big plot points and characters already.

I know about all the weddings. Red Wedding, Purple Wedding, White Wedding (hey little sister). I know what happens when Oberyn and The Mountain face off. I know Tyrion drinks and knows things. I know Jon Snow doesn’t know anything.

So I’m not coming into this final season completely blind. And after watching the penultimate episode and witnessing the fan aftermath on the internet, I have some thought about this season both from a writing perspective and from a perspective of observing fans of the show for seven seasons without watching the show.

(Spoilers for everything Game of Thrones up until the episode that aired yesterday will follow, along with minor spoilers for some other shows.)

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