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Going face to face with The Last Guardian

Trico's at Tokyo Game Show (but not how you might have hoped).

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.

Having finally broke cover again at E3 this year, with Fumito Ueda now heading up development at the newly formed genDESIGN and with the game having made the leap to PlayStation 4, there's been no real updates since. Sony skipped Gamescom this year, and many were hoping for more news as it had a bigger presence at Tokyo Game Show.

Well, it's here, only there's a catch: in a small, dark booth there's a video rolling that shows the E3 demo Sony used to herald The Last Guardian's return, while on the front of Sony's booth there's a towering projection screen which features a life-size Trico (or catweagle, as he's more properly known), the bird/cat hybrid that's at the heart of the game. It's an interactive projection, of sorts - wave your hands in front of it and Trico will follow you around with its black, dopey eyes.

Watch on YouTube

It's hard to be cynical, though - watching the demo again, you appreciate the problems Ueda and his team must have faced in development. Trico's a portable platform, effectively, transforming environments as you clamber over him. There's a similarity to Ico in the environment, style and design, while the traversal of huge creatures is a clear call-back to Shadow of the Colossus, but the way levels are transformed feels new. It also looks like it was incredibly hard to implement.

Which maybe explains why it's taken so long. Oli pointed out back at E3 that The Last Guardian hasn't moved on since he was lucky enough to see it near the start of the project back in 2009, and despite the move to a new generation The Last Guardian still looks like a product of that time. There are rough edges, basically, even in the projection as Trico clips through walls and is confused by the number of people waving their arms in front of him.

But when it clicks... The Last Guardian has become popular myth among players even before they've managed to play the game, and we already feel intimate with Trico. Coming face to face with him at last can feel a little overwhelming - Ueda and genDESIGN have created a creature it's hard not to fall for, and even in a gimmicky projection there's so much of that charm there.

There's every reason to be optimistic that we'll find out more about The Last Guardian at Paris Games Week towards the end of October, and who knows, maybe we'll even get to play it. Trico spends most of his time during the Tokyo Game Show projection caged up behind bars. I hope they let him out soon.

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