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The most deafening cheer raised at PSX, Sony's celebration of all things PlayStation held in a tinselled, sweltering December California, did not follow the news of a sequel to The Last of Us, but rather a surprise trailer advertising a 22 year old arcade game. Windjammers is Pong played with Frisbees. You're a bronzed Venice Beach bum, dressed in neon pink sweatbands and purple sun-visors, hurling the disc toward your opponent's goal. There's never been a better video game interpretation of air hockey but, while the game is often played at hipster-y video game tournaments, nobody anticipated a PlayStation 4 re-release. Fittingly the announcement was made on the same day that SNK, the Osaka-based creator of the enduringly desirable NeoGeo on which Windjammers debuted in 1994, dropped the 'Playmore' addendum of its name (picked up when the company reformed following bankruptcy in the early 2000s) to return to its original branding: The Future Is Now.
As the title implies, this article contain MAJOR SPOILERS about the ending of The Last Guardian. It also contains spoilers for Ico and Shadow of the Colossus.
The Last Guardian is out at last. After the release of Ico in 2001 and Shadow of the Colossus four years later, it's fair to say Team Ico's third game has had the most troubled development of them all. When it began as a PS3 title in 2007, nobody could have anticipated a nine year wait to see the title on store shelves. But on its own terms the result is breathtaking; despite the age of its concept - and many of its assets - The Last Guardian's backdrops still wow due to on-point art direction from director Fumito Ueda. The story behind its technology however, from a leaked target render in 2009, to its eventual release in 2016, plays a big part in explaining how the final game turned out.
A wind-scoured castle, crumbling into a sun-bleached sea. A towering shrine, rising above a landscape of decaying ruins and moss-skinned rocks. An isolated tower surrounded by vast chasms, speckled with high-arched walkways and overgrown ledges. Though the games of Fumito Ueda may depict delicate relationships, vast beasts and impregnable mysteries, it has always been their distinctive architectural spaces that gave them a concrete form. Ever since Ico's castle hazily emerged from the bloom and mist on the games title screen in 2001, these monolithic structures have become symbols for the sense of scale, mysticism and artistry that have made Ueda's games instantly recognisable and widely loved.
Hello! Chris Donlan here, just dropping in to tell you that Chris Bratt and I have committed another podcast, and we absolutely refuse to hand ourselves over to the police.
Against all odds, the time has nearly come. After endless delays and fears it might have fallen into the void, The Last Guardian has gone gold and is all prepared for release early in December. It's pretty good, too - at least that's the impression we got after spending just over an hour with it last week. After our hands-on we got the chance to sit down briefly with the game's director Fumito Ueda - a figure almost as mystical as The Last Guardian itself during its tortured development, but in person a plain-speaking, down-to-earth designer who seems impervious to the pressures that almost ten years on one game must have wrought.
The short answer, before I lead you on any further, is yes. Despite an impossible amount of hype heaped up over the course of a decade, of hopes sparked by those all-too-intermittent trailers and by the glorious yet dimming memory of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian can live up to expectations. It can even surpass them and surprise you with its brilliance, as it did when I sat down to play it for just over an hour last week.
This year's E3 was a river of dads, and I am unhappy about it. (I did wonder briefly about the appropriate collective noun for dads: a Wickes, a Touchline, or, for us kids of divorce, an Absence? Just kidding, Dad - and I hope Spain is treating you well).
It felt surreal to sit down to play The Last Guardian, a game in development for so long I had started to wonder if I had imagined its existence.
The Last Guardian, Sony's almost mythical exclusive that's been in development since 2007, didn't make an appearance at the platform holder's Tokyo Game Show press conference on Tuesday, but it has found its way on to the show floor at the Makuharai Messe. It's not, though, what you might have hoped.
It was a night no E3-goer will forget in a hurry. Sony's extraordinary press conference last week opened with the return of The Last Guardian - almost 10 years into development and almost five since its last appearance before the press. The shocking revivals didn't end there as Sony, playing fairy godmother to ageing gamers, continued to grant their deepest and most apparently hopeless wishes with the launch of Yu Suzuki's Shenmue 3 Kickstarter and the announcement that Square Enix would attempt the impossible - or improbable - and remake its classic role-playing game, Final Fantasy 7.
Our daily roundups from E3 2015: Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Friday
Early in 2011, I travelled to Sony Japan Studio's offices in Tokyo and saw the the last live demo of The Last Guardian. Four and a half years later, sat in a hushed demo theatre somewhere above the brouhaha of E3, just as the show opens, I'm seeing the first demo of its revival as a PS4 game. I'm feeling a sense of déjà vu.
It's been a fantastic year for Sony and the PlayStation 4, with a whopping 10m consoles sold. But there have been bumps along the road.
The Last Guardian remains missing in action years after it was announced. It's been in development for so long it's becoming a bit of a running joke.
There's also the issue of the delay to Evolution's racing game DriveClub. It was once due out alongside the PS4 in November 2013. Now, it'll launch almost a year later, going up against the likes of Forza Horizon 2, Project Cars and The Crew.
Optimistic? Perhaps, yet while The Last Guardian has been one of the most anticipated games of an entire generation, I've got genuine faith that this'll be the year when the catweagle finally sticks its curious snout out of the shadows.
2014 is upon us, and it promises riches and glory unlike any year before it. With their launches under their belts, the next generation of consoles will, hopefully, show us what they're made of. Virtual reality headsets may make their mark on the mainstream. And with a raft of crowdfunded games due out over the next 12 months, 2014 should tell us whether all that money we pumped into promising projects on Kickstarter was worth it.
After last night's triumphant E3 press conference Sony is on a high, but, according to senior executives, it won't rest on its laurels.
"I'm not directly managing third-party relations," says Shuhei Yoshida, when I ask him a question that pretty much has nothing to do with the area of Sony Computer Entertainment for which he is responsible.
Amidst all the excitement about E3 press conference stars like Beyond, Watch Dogs and Need for Speed: Most Wanted, it's easy to forget that not everything we hear about will make it to fruition, and that the time it takes for a game to go from spectacular reveal to an ignominious death that no one even bothers to report is only as long as it takes for a trailer to fade from memory. Given that we've published 478 videos so far this week, and some of them were for games like that Nike Plus thing, that's not long.
Back in December the Eurogamer editorial team had a massive public fight about whether 2011 was a good year for games. Well, we had the closest thing we're capable of having to a massive public fight - we wrote polite editorials disagreeing with one another. One thing we all agreed upon, however, was that we would very much like to see more Actual New Games in 2012.
The two PlayStation 2 classics made by the small Sony team led by Fumito Ueda, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, have a powerful air of mystery about them. Their hazy, bleached visuals, sorrowful air and vague stories make them seem like half-remembered children's books – the kind that had some secret, solemn, adult meaning that was always just beyond your understanding, but that affected you powerfully anyway.
There's a sense of anticipation even before the doors to the presentation room open. With 20 minutes still to go, a large crowd of journalists has already gathered outside. Those at the front at the queue jostle politely for position, while those just arriving now rush up to the check-in desk, anxious to make sure their name is on Sony's list.
It's been two and a half years since Famitsu magazine dropped the first hints of Fumito Ueda's first PS3 game, and several months since it was revealed as The Last Guardian. Although there's been nothing to see so far but some impressive trailers, the hype is already huge - not surprising when you consider Ueda is the man behind cult classics ICO and Shadow of the Colossus.