ICO and Shadow of the Colossus creator Fumito Ueda has explained that the creature in PS3 creation The Last Guardian is a giant, imprisoned cateagle that may only be a baby.
Talking to Famitsu (translated by IGN), Ueda revealed the Japanese name of the game as Hito Kui no Oowashi Toriko, which means Man-Eating Eagle Toriko. We saw this creature romp around a teaser video at the Sony E3 conference.
Developer Team ICO uses the word Oowashi - Giant Eagle - to describe the bird. But, said Ueda, Torika can mean prisoner, a baby bird or a pairing of bird (tori) and cat (neko). All three meanings may be appropriate, as the beast appears shackled, naïve and friendly like a baby, and looks like an eagle with a cat's body.
Ueda birthed the beast to make the bond between player and animal much stronger and more central than in ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, which both had supporting - or neighbouring - horse or horse-style roles.
In The Last Guardian, players control a boy who befriends this cateagle. The pair work together to solve puzzles and fend off intruders, combining their talents to patch over individual weaknesses. The boy cannot directly control the cateagle, but can entice the beast to do things by throwing food barrels - a bit like a real person would with a cat or dog. The boy can also climb, grab things and crawl.
But why isn't the creature a cat or a dog? Because Ueda said these are too well known by people, and recreating one in game would soon be picked apart by the cat or dog lovers. Ueda said he kept not only cats and dogs as a child, but also ducks and monkeys.
"It's important that it be a strange creature," explained Ueda. "We made sure and not make it too balanced."
Ueda dodges detailing game specifics, but hints that he's looking into online features - although they may not be possible in this game.
Technically, The Last Guardian will be much more accomplished than ICO or Shadow of the Colossus, as it's the first of the series to be powered by PlayStation 3. The new power has allowed a full physics system, and a revamp for the AI from ICO and collision detection from SOTC. The cateagle's feathers will also individually ruffle with the direction of the wind.