‘Ico’ creators reveal look at classic PS2 game’s early development

The test footage shows how 'Ico' might have looked on PS1

The creators behind cult PS2 classic Ico have marked the game’s 20th anniversary with a look at its earliest iteration.

Developed by Team ICO – an offshoot of Sony Japan Studios – and originally released in 2001, Ico saw the eponymous protagonist, a young man born with horns, trying to guide his companion Yorda out of a labyrinthine castle where both had been trapped. A masterpiece of minimalist design, the game inspired successors in Shadow of the Colossus and The Last Guardian.

Now, genDESIGN – the studio set up by Ico director Fumito Ueda in 2014, after leaving Sony – has revealed a look back at the game in its earliest form (thanks, Gematsu). While the core of the game players would come to love is clear to see, it’s also noteworthy how different some parts of the game are.


The video’s description (translated) says the footage dates from 1998, and was an initial development video to convey the idea of the game and its themes with the development team. It’s also pointed out that the footage is a combination of CG and the game running on the original PlayStation, an indication of how long the game had been in the works.

There are also some fascinating animation tests to be seen, along with some alternate designs for Ico himself. It’s also possible that at some stage, Ico was planned to be even younger than he was in the finished game – some of the CG scenes in the video have him looking like a very young child.

Perhaps the biggest difference though is the giant Yorda that Ico can be seen guiding around, rather than the ethereal girl who appeared in the final game. While it’s likely this was just a placeholder model for this early proof-of-concept build, that could have drastically changed the tone and feel of the game if the idea had stuck around.

Ico was last released on PS3, in a collection with Shadow of the Colossus, and Sony seemingly has no plans to remaster the game for PS5. However, the game’s impact still resonates, and videos such as this serve as a brilliant behind-the-scenes look at how much care went into its creation.


Elsewhere, the Dark Night is coming to Hot Wheels Unleashed, with a new expansion adding Batman related vehicles and tracks to the game.

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