Sunday, July 17, 2011

Shadow of the Colossus (1991)

Consider this project a practice in game design.

The idea is rather straight forward… How would a newer generation game play, look and feel like if it were originally released during a different gaming era? In this case, I chose to represent the original Game Boy (early 90’s) coupled with Team ICO’s Shadow of the Colossus (2005). The interesting four colored palette and tight resolution of the GB created some fun boundaries to work within. As far as the game design aspect is concerned, playing with these kinds of projects results in a problem solving practice (and for me, a graphical challenge as well) in relation to the translation process between an almost alien generational gap… Interesting stuff.

Note:The original GB technical display specs remain more or less accurate. And yes, I faked the power light ;)

If you’re familiar with SOTC than you know that the game consists of a few simplistic game mechanics that ultimately allow for a powerful and immersive experience. I feel like these mechanics could be translated to even a 2D platformer. With only two buttons and a d-pad I was happily surprised by how smooth the process actually was… This might be a good example of the beautiful game design in relation to the actual Shadow of the Colossus build.

As you can see from the ‘screen shots’ that this version would incorporate all of the same HUD properties but with specific modifications added to bridge the ‘dimensional gaps’, including:

Game Properties and Mechanics:


Keeping true to the actual SOTC, the HUD would house all the familiar mechanics a player would expect in a translation including the grip meter, weapon selection and the life bars for both Wander and the Colossi.

Weapon Properties:

Switching between the sword and the bow would be done using the select button. While the sword would act strictly as a melee weapon used for clearing obstructions and damaging the Colossus’ weak points (more on this below) the bow would act as a projectile weapon (duh) that would shoot out at a 90° making it effective against airborne enemies. Holding down the grip button (most likely the ‘B’ button) while using a weapon would result in how much damage the attack would cause (think of Mega Man’s charge attack).


Remember in the original Ninja Gaiden series how Ryu could ‘stick’ to the walls and you’d have to perform that goofy wall jump to reach the top… Yeah, the same principal would apply here. Except while ‘sticking’ to the surface the grip meter would slowly diminish… (I’d like to imagine the wall climb more closely related to how Mega Man X used the mechanic, more so than Ninja Gaidan). If the meter were to reach 0% then the ability to climb the walls is temporarily lost. Walls and the Colossi could both be scaled… Although specific sections of the surfaces would not respond to climbing, or might contain hazards that would inflict damage if not properly avoided.

Colossus Damage:

Notice how in each picture the Colossi have small floating diamonds situated on specific parts of their bodies? These would represent the weak points used to eventually slay the titans. Similar to the real game, after each weak point takes a certain amount of damage it would disappear and a new one would form in another spot eventually leading to a final weak point that would destroy the Colossus.

Level Types:

Each level would play out with a design function that would best fit each Colossus. Some example level types might consist of the following:

-Horizontal Auto-Scroll (Phalanx and Pelagia)

While the screen would roll through a landscape the player would have to maneuver over the terrain while staying ahead of the Colossi and dodging obstacles. The Phalanx stage would be played using Argo, on horseback while Palagia’s stage would center around Wander jumping from one platform to the next.

Vertical Layouts:

Scaling a Colossus vertically (Gaia and Malus) would be a lot like climbing a tower… as far as 2D gameplay goes. The player would maneuver upwards while dodging obstacles and hazards. If the game were to up the difficulty, falling damage could be incorporated… If the game were just plain evil then something like the ‘pit’ could be included that would result in instant death if the player fell below the bottom of the screen (remember Contra?) As evil as that might be… The actual SOTC used a similar mechanic concerning falling damage.

All in all, this was a cool little project. I find that for myself, its a nice option to have a smaller project on the side while working on a larger one… While I didn’t cover all of the design properties (there are a TON, even with the simplest games) I feel like I covered the basics to portray the idea I was going for.

Thanks for reading


  1. Its a good idea, but I think it would be hard to capture the feeling of immense vastness along with the breathtaking scenery on a gameboy. Personally that was a major factor in enjoying the gameplay. Plus I can't see 8 bit music working well with this game. But thats probably because I love the original and fear change!

  2. Thanks for this awesome project

  3. What an awesome idea! I love when people do these kinds of things (downgrading new games). The images you have above are marvelous. It makes me wonder what it would actually take to program this and make it work...