No The Last Guardian in 2011, No ICO/Shadow of the Colossus This Spring

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Alas, there’ll be no The Last Guardian for you or me in 2011. Worse: There’ll be no ICO or Shadow of the Colossus re-mastered and collected this spring.

“I announced at last year’s Tokyo Game Show that the release timing of The Last Guardian which is currently being developed would be holiday 2011,” said The Last Guardian director and lead designer Fumito Ueda via the official PlayStation blog. “However, to provide more challenging and better quality of content to users and to fulfill First Party Studio’s obligations, I decided to postpone its release timing.”

I’m not sure why Ueda feels it necessary to backhand third-party games by implying they’re inferior--Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo are on the hook for plenty of first-party stinkers--but if the game’s not up to snuff, much respect to Ueda and Team Ico parent Sony Computer Entertainment Japan for giving designers some space to remedy deficiencies. If the game’s not “challenging” enough, as implied above, all the beautiful directing and architectonically harmonious vistas in the world won’t make it a solid game.

Ueda continues, apologizing to “all the customers who have been waiting” and “begging” for patience. No word on a new release date, save a deferred “will announce the new release timing at a later time.”

The real shame? I’m happy to wait for The Last Guardian, but Sony Computer Entertainment America says its delaying the high-definition versions of ICO and Shadow of the Colossus. Why? If I had to guess, I’d say to backfill the hole left by The Last Guardian this fall. After all, ICO and Shadow of the Colossus stand to do well by Sony, so where they stand in terms of release timeframes matters.

ICO was critically praised but popularly overlooked--years of hearing game writers sing its virtues may have created pent up demand. And Shadow of the Colossus arrived a month before the Xbox 360 did in late 2005, possibly losing sales to gamers focused on Microsoft’s launch. Dropping the collection around the holidays instead of this spring could generate bigger sales, and partly rectify the hole left by The Last Guardian's absence.

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