Remember The Last Guardian? It's a game from Team Ico and Japan Studio. You know, Team Ico. They did ICO and Shadow of the Colossus. Man, those are great games, aren’t they? Fantastic titles. It's a shame the team never took the time to get The Last Guardian out to join the trilogy, because now it doesn't matter anymore. Fumito Ueda can apologize all he wants for the delay, but the damage has been done.
It's probably a terrible thing to say, but ultimately true. If you're reading this, then at one point in time, you probably actually had hopes that The Last Guardian would come through as an awesome game. Perhaps you remember that thrill of excitement at E3 2009, when it was first announced. That was a magical moment. Especially seeing that griffin-monster-cat baby (which you can check out in our extremely dated preview of the game). Hearts melted, and I know I remembered that first time I played Shadow of the Colossus and was awed. I wondered if it would happen again.
Then The Last Guardian disappeared from our consciousness. Bits and pieces of news would come out, but there were no new gameplay elements announced, very little footage shown. It was ephemeral, but still PS3 owners held out hope when a 2011 release window was announced at the 2010 Tokyo Game Show. Press got to see a segment of it, but most people were left in the dark.
Then, troubles hit. Both The Last Guardian Director Fumito Ueda and Executive Producer Yoshifusa Hayama left Sony. Unspecified "technical difficulties" hit. It didn't appear at E3 2012 or 2013. People don't even know if it’s a PS3 or a PS4 game anymore.
Simply put, Sony has waited too long. The Last Guardian is in development hell, and has been there so long that it doesn't matter anymore. Sure, it sounded like a game with an interesting premise and some potential, but too much time has passed. There are two groups of fans left who know about it, the cynical and the faithful, and both aren't going to react well if it ever does come to fruition.
The cynical, a group of which I'm proud to say I'm part, will cite other games that lived in limbo for years. There is only one game I know that survived the curse of prolonged development, and that is Mother 3. And for every Mother 3, there is an Aliens: Colonial Marines or Duke Nukem Forever. Players can see where potential may have lurked, but then been lost because too many people worked on it, too much time was wasted in other areas, or developers rushed just to finally get it released.
Then there are The Last Guardian believers. They're a small segment who have a place for this game in their hearts. The problem here, again, is time. It's been so long since anything was shown or announced, and all people have had to go on were various promises and factoids from Sony and Team Ico. As a result, they've built up expectations of what The Last Guardian could and should be, and we all know that never goes well when a final product is released. It can never compare to the vision in your head.
It's been enough. The Last Guardian could have been a thing once, maybe even a great thing, but there's no chance of it happening and making an impact on our gaming lives now. Even if it did manage to appear on the PS4 in 2014, people would never be satisfied. I think the only way it could achieve any semblance of notoriety and importance was if Sony decided to use it as a learning experience. Perhaps release a documentary disclosing everything that happened between its E3 2009 announcement and now, showing the most important and juicy scenes from its troubled development. Gamers would get answers, other developers and publishers could learn from the experience, and The Last Guardian could be assured a place in our memories.