Sunday, July 31, 2011

5th Colossus

It casts a colossal shadow across a misty lake...
as it soars through the sky... 
to reach it is no easy task...

Developer Name: Bird
Fan Name: Avion (Avis Praeda) - Delta Pheonix
Location Name: Canyon

Colossus 5 Hints
- Use thy bow and arrow to gain the colossus's attention...
- Stand on the platform on the surface of the lake to draw its attack...

It's very difficult to pick a favourite colossus, they are all so awesome! But if I had to try, I guess I would pick Avion. This is based on several factors: 1) the environment, 2) the design of the colossus, 3) the battle/strategy and 4) the music. When I take these into account, Avion comes out on top. For one thing, I had never experienced a boss battle like this, sure there are numerous bosses to fight in other games, like God of War for example, but they were always land based bosses. This one was unique, a huge bird that you could ride high above the Earth. The ancient ruins also intrigued me, many are damaged and all are sunken beneath the lake, just the tops of the structures poking out above the water line. It makes you wonder what this area once looked like before the great inundation that submerged this strange temple complex.


The battle with Avion is epic! Once you have grabbed on you are taken high above the murky water, the wind rushing past as you desperately cling onto its mossy coloured fur for dear life. It really gets the heart pumping as you carefully make your way out to the tips of its wings, your grip meter is quickly getting smaller, you raise your sword to stab at the glowing sigil - but then Avion starts flapping its wings! You hold on with all your strength but it's too late, your grip meter is depleted and you fall helplessly into the lake below.
Early concept sketch of Avion from the art book
Avion's area sketch from the art book

The Temple and Arena
As mentioned above I was always very fond of Avion's arena and found it to be one of the most interesting and enticing areas of the game. Of course it's easy for me to explore as I can fly around and change Wander's altitude to reach all the inaccessible platforms, but even without that ability you can still visit some areas legitimately.

Ruined temple with two levels

Broken set of stairs - where did they lead?

Wander on the second inaccessible level

Wander standing on a broken column

I really love this temple ; ) I've jumped up and explored it numerous times just to exist in that space for a while, there are certain areas of the game where I like to visit and just stop... take in the environment and live in the moment. It's a kind of meditation where you just stand still and listen to the sounds of the wind, water or birds and take in the awesome view. Strange thing to say about a video game, but this game is unique in many ways and its roots go deep. 

Close up of the broken stairs

This part of the temple was always a mystery... there is a set of stone stairs leading down that end abruptly at a large broken area. It's as if one whole side of the temple is missing, having fallen into the water below in times past. But it's hard to imagine what the missing part of the temple looked like and where the stairs led originally.

South side of the temple is missing - sheared off in ancient times

Eastward view of the temple - you can see how one side is missing

Same view with extended red line - how far did the stairs descend?

So above we can see how the stairs would have kept going down to a lower level if the missing part of the temple was intact, but how this would have worked is a mystery to me. Perhaps the stairs changed direction and kept going East (Note: we are looking East in this image), so you can imagine the stairs reaching a landing then heading down away from us. But there is no obvious path for the stairs to re-enter the temple, so they must have been part of a much larger structure that is now lost.

North side of the temple is intact - opposite the broken side

So if we examine the intact side of the temple we may get a sense of what the other 'missing' side may have once resembled... but the staircase changes things, as it obviously descended to a lower floor which is incongruous to the intact North side. I've looked all around the temple and there appears to be no place where these stairs could have led which would make sense in an architectural sense, so for now, we can only imagine a much larger temple where one side has been sheared off and fallen into the lake, perhaps when the flood that inundated this area occurred? I'll make a Photoshop montage of how I think this temple may have looked based on the missing stairs, but it will be pure speculation, as is most of the claims I have made about this enigmatic game.

Temple has gripabble edges

When I take Wander up to the 2nd level, you can actually shimmy along the outer edge of the temple here, all the way around each of the four columns. This always suggested to me that this was once a playable area, as we see in the Pre-release Shrine of the Worship which was likewise grippable in the upper levels... but what purpose this 2nd level was used for I have no clue. I made a video of this unique action here:


Wander at Avion's gate

Another grand feature of Avion's lair is the massive, stone columned wall that encircles the entrance to the lake. Much of it is now missing, again revealing just how old this structure must be. It consists of 6 huge stone columns, 45 metres high joined by narrow stone bridges (26 metres high) which link the huge stone columns. Most of these have long since decayed away, leaving just broken sections jutting out with long growths of moss hanging down from their eroded protrusions. Below this is a stone wall with sharp metal spikes, like a multitude of spears pointing up to keep intruders out - in fact, if Wander lands on these spikes, he will roll off just like he does at the outer ledges of the Shine of Worship.

Avion's gate panned out

Wander of top of the highest gate column - looking down at Agro

Top of pier - looking down at the narrow walkway

Strange symbols line the inside wall

Lake Structures
When you are riding Avion you can pan the camera down to see where you are in regards to the ruined structures scattered around the lake. All you need do is fall of Avion at the right moment and you will fall down and land on one of these, if you timing is correct. Note: You will not die even from what seems to be a great height! Wander has enough strength to survive the fall.


Ruined temples out in the lake which can be landed on

Once on these structures you can run around and explore, although most bridges are broken so you can't reach the opposite temple. You don't have much time as Avion comes swooping back down and the powerful wind gusts of its wings will push Wander off the roof of the building... just hold R1 to crouch, sometimes this will prevent you from falling back into the lake, although most of the time it doesn't work.

Avion before Activation
I had a lot of trouble finding Avion before it was triggered. I had found all the other colossi previously, some are hidden behind closed doors (Quadratus, Barba), others are found under the ground (Valus, Phalanx) and others were in plain site (Gauis, Phaedra, Basaran etc.) But Avion was especially hard to find. I remember Pikol talking about seeing it out to the East, but try as I might, I could never find it. Then in January 2010 success! I saw what Pikol described, a tiny little spec out beyond the walls of the H4 enclosure, but if I tried to move in closer Avion would disappear.

In the end it was only possible to see close up using a special code that WWWArea found. We call it the load lands code... I know, strange name but this is what it does. When we were exploring the opening cut scene you could use this single byte code to load those far off limits lands on the outer edges of the map. So for instance you could warp Wander to A0 for example, change the code from 1 to 0 and behold the lands would magically appear!

Beta mountains surround the SoW in the opening cut scene

The cool thing about this code is that it also works in game. So when I'm at Avion's arena, I simply change this byte code from 1 to 0 (it's reversed in game) and this will 'lock' Avion and stop it from disappearing. So I could now fly right up next to it for the first time! It was very satisfying to finally be able to see this colossus before it was triggered after it had eluded me for so long.

Before activation - frozen and lifeless

Avion floating in the void at the East side of its arena

Avion at the Shrine of WorshipFirst I tried to move Avion to the top of the Shrine of Worship (SoW). I thought this would be the perfect place for it to perch (the highest point in the forbidden lands), but sadly I can't lock the SoW with the load lands code, in fact this is the only place I can't lock in the game. There must be some special code that keeps it unlocked, that is when I move away from it, it will always divert to its low res mode. So all I could do is put Avion on the low res version of the SoW and pan the camera far away from it... otherwise the SoW melts away when you get too close (see below).
Here I brought the low res SoW model to Avion's area

It would look much better if I could get the hi-res SoW model to load here


Avion on top of the Shrine of Worship (low res temple only)
Avion at the Dam
To do this I must first travel to Avion's area and activate the colossus. Then I go to the Dam and lock it so it can't unload when I move away, as I head back to Avion's area all the surrounding lands have disappeared, so I have to note the co-ordinates of the platform I started at beforehand. I activate Avion the usual way, you see the cut scene although there is no background behind Avion, just low res lands, this is because the hi-res lands are locked at i2 were the Dam is. Once Avion has settled on it perch I use codes to move it around, I can then move Avion to the Dam.

 Avion perches on the brickwork arch


Keeping watch at the Dam


As the Dam has no collision detection I can only move Wander around with the standing hack, but wherever Wander moves, Avion will reposition itself to face him, unfold its wings and screech loudly as it does!


From its perched position I can make it fly by pressing X. It then lifts off from the Dam and flies slowly north. It seems to just drift in the air, gracefully moving at a steady pace. Normally when a colossus is out of its arena they head straight back to where they started, but for some reason Avion doesn't, it just keeps flying north very slowly. But I discovered that when Wander actually lands on Avion, it reverts to its normal animations and turns tail at a good speed to head back to H4 (its native arena).



Looks amazing perched on the dam!

I should have made a video about this at the time, but instead of starting over I decided to try another method. This one involved a lot more work, but the payoff is Wander has something to walk on ; ) What I did was take Wander to the Dam, then using my memory editor searched for all the pieces of the Dam (search for exact value 1 float type). It took a couple of nights after work of searching until I finally had all the pieces.

Update: November 2015, I finally got around to make this video! See here:

Next, I move all the Dam model pieces to H4 (Avion's area), there were 17 separate pieces in all. Note: for each piece there are three codes to move it (x,y,z), 51 addresses in all. Once there I can move the Dam around to any position I like, then activate Avion. Avion will fly around the Dam and Wander has surfaces to walk on, although not much as the structures at Avion's sunken city aren't very expansive.

Some of the pieces of the Dam - moved away from each other

The Dam model moved to Avion's arena

Wander wading in water at the Dam

The other advantage of this method is that we can, for the first time, see the Dam in its natural environment i.e. water. The lower levels of the Dam are now submerged in murky green water.

Here Wander is standing on the platform that activates Avion

The disadvantage of this method is that the distant background structures are either missing or low res. You can see in the above image the distant 2D mountains behind the Entrance temple, and lots of missing land in between. But at least Wander can walk around here.

The Dam submerged

Wander wading over the causeway

Wander swimming above the Dam



Wander riding Avion above the Dam!

Another advantage is that I can fight Avion in the usual way with the majestic Dam as the backdrop! Although the low res lands create a problem, as only the Dam is high res everything surrounding it is in low res form, so it looks quite ugly unless the camera is facing the Dam. So when I make a video about this area it will most likely be edited to cut out the ugly parts.

Avion's Temple
Here's Avion on the top of its temple spire. Wander is held in place with the standing hack, so I can't shoot it or anything. When I say Wander is frozen I mean he can't move around as normal, but he's still moving like he does when he's standing still in the game i.e. he shifts his weight from one leg to the other and moves slightly if you know what I mean?


It's a great spot to put Avion as it's perched on the main temple column and looks like it's guarding the sunken city. So when you first climb up the stone ladder and jump up onto the narrow pathway that leads to the lake, you can see Avion high above Wander peering down in interest at this new intruder into its lair. 

Avion keeps watch over its lair

I made a wallpaper out of this shot ; )

Hi-res wallpaper image here:
Video about this exploit here: https://youtu.be/FX7iSMl-DzE

Avion at 16's area
I can move Avion to #16's arena but again there are no collisions and there's no save stone I can use to make a solid platform, so all I can do is stand there and look at the colossus using the standing hack. I can't get the storm to activate either as when I leave #16's area (after triggering the storm) to activate Avion and then return the storm has disappeared. It would have been cool to see Avion in the storm! 




Avion at Malus' lair

When using the standing hack I can't shoot an arrow or change weapons etc. as Wander is locked into the standing position, so I can't activate Avion by shooting it. But I can grab onto it (which activates it) but it just flies back to its arena. I would have to trick the game into thinking that #16's area was Avion's area but I have no idea how to do that.

Avion after death
When I kill a colossus with the 'kill code' the black tentacles go through Wander but he isn't sent back to the Shrine of Worship, so I can crawl all over the dead colossus. The other way to do this is to shift the camera to a colossus then kill it by pressing SELECT. Both methods leave Wander able to play on, if you leave the arena and return the colossus has respawned so until you kill it legitimately the game cannot progress.


Team Ico had a plan to make the colossi as playable characters once you had beaten the game (as in Ico with Yorda). In two player mode, one person would play as Wander and the other as the colossus. This explains why there are controls for the colossi although they probably used these for testing the colossi movements as well during development.

Underwater Structures
In the Preview version I can lock a save stone platform (using a code) so it stays loaded, then warp to a colossus using the Special Menu, when I do this some strange effects can be seen. All the 'actionable objects' no longer load, so everything that can be influenced by a colossus such as the trees at #1 or the columns at #14's lair are missing. The only thing loaded is the save stone platform so there are no collisions anywhere in the game. But it makes exploring anywhere much easier!

Avion's area seems to have a greenish hue to it and it really stands out

Wander under the water - the temple structures are clearly visible


Again, the distant areas are low res

Wander standing on Avion's perch

In the game when you try to land on Avion's perch you are pushed off as it is enclosed by invisible walls, but in this mode there is nothing stopping Wander from standing anywhere he likes. I think I'll make a video of this mode as no objects are loaded, so no lizards, turtles, birds, fruit, save stones etc. even the earth bridges have parts missing as seen in the demos. You can see through the water in amazing detail here but distant objects on the horizon don't fade away as in the game but end sharply, so it's quite ugly.

Symbols
Unique designs found at Avion's temple and surrounding structures
Avion's Death Screen
Image you see when Wander dies during the fight with Avion.


4 comments:

  1. Yeah,looks like you had fun playing around with Avion XD

    At least now I know wich direction I must follow to see it deactivated.
    I flyied around it's arena but didn't see anything,I will take another look.

    Those codebreaker codes are very useful,I still an amateur but at least I can go anywhere.

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  2. Hey, do you mind if I use some of these pictures in an article? With credit ofc.

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  3. Nice work nomad, I was just playing the game today on the ps3 version and I noticed that I could see Avion on its arena before his activation just like you said but instead not on the void in the arena... ( sry for the bad English )

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