Sound Byte: The Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection

Game designer Fumito Ueda shares his thoughts on the music in the upcoming HD collection.

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Team Ico fans are still patiently waiting for the release of The Last Guardian or any bit of news on it. To keep you occupied for now, the HD remake of the beloved Ico and Shadow of the Colossus games will be hitting store shelves soon. Those who have taken the journey as the young boy with horns or as Wander know that the music plays a pivotal role in creating the perfect atmosphere in the game. We asked designer Fumito Ueda about what we can expect from the HD collection, as well as what's planned from an audio perspective for The Last Guardian.

GameSpot: When you were working on Ico and Shadow of the Colossus originally, what were you looking for in a composer?

Fumito Ueda: What I paid the most attention to was making the music not fit into typical video game soundtrack stereotypes. I wanted the music to fit naturally into the gameworld and enhance the experience like many great movie soundtracks have been able to accomplish.

That being said, I looked for a specific ambient yet melancholic sound for Ico. For Shadow of the Colossus, I wanted a soundtrack that complemented the spectacular world settings and was able to add a somber emotion to the overall gameplay.

GS: Both games had great atmosphere that relied heavily on the visuals and sound. How did you approach the sound design in the two games? Were they different or similar?

FU: For Ico, we started working back from the ending theme "You were there." The music was delivered almost a year after our initial discussions with the composer, Michiru Oshima. In addition to the music we requested, I also asked her to work on some other individual sound samples that go along with the characteristics of various game areas. Unfortunately, we couldn't keep all of them, and many didn't make their way into the final product. My overall goal for Ico was to represent the feel of a European classic cinema experience.

During the creation of Shadow of the Colossus, it was slightly more complex. We wanted to choose a unique sound and feel for each colossus the player faced. There were many meetings with the composer Kow Otani to finally get each one right. For the opening and ending cinematics, the final videos were not ready at the time we reached out to him. Through artwork and storyboards, we attempted to explain the concepts behind each of these scenes. We eventually used the music created in an entirely different section of the game. Overall, I envisioned the soundtrack for Shadow of the Colossus to have the feel of a traditional Hollywood epic.

GS: What was the inspiration behind the music in Ico and Shadow of the Colossus?

FU: Besides our goal of going outside the normal realm of previous video game soundtracks, I do remember feeling inspired by the opening theme from Silent Hill by Konami.

GS: Did the music turn out the way you had planned? Or did you let the composers experiment?

FU: For both titles, we created prototype videos using some sample music we had on hand. While reviewing these, we started to create the final vision for each title. Once those videos were complete, we chose composers and invited them in to listen and watch so that they too could be inspired and realize the overall direction we wanted to go.

Now that some time has passed and I can take a more objective approach when playing through and listening to the music within these games, I can wholeheartedly say that we were extremely lucky to be working with such talented and brilliant composers. I sincerely appreciate the great work done by both composers.

GS: What role do you think the music played in both games?

FU: I think anytime you are telling a story, music plays an integral part. Just like some of the best classic movies, what people remember most is how well the visuals and music blended together.

GS: Is there anything you wish had been done differently?

FU: My only regret would be that we started work on the music too early in the production cycle. If we would have waited until the game and cutscenes were closer to completion, it would have been a far more efficient process.

GS: For the upcoming HD compilation, has the audio been reworked or enhanced at all?

Yes. In terms of the audio enhancement to both games, the HD versions now support 7.1ch surround sound.

GS: Can you share what direction the audio design or music will take in The Last Guardian?

FU: What I aimed to achieve for Ico was to go above and beyond the typical video game music and to express something emotional by means of sound and music.

As for Shadow of the Colossus, I wanted the synchronization of audio and visuals to exceed what we've seen in movies. With The Last Guardian, I want to take what I've learned from both previous products and integrate all these concepts.

GS: Thank you for your time!

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