Saturday, July 30, 2011

1st Colossus

A giant that walks along the valley... 
The servant shall rise from behind and make the earth quiver...
This is the introduction from Dormin that you never see in the game as Dormin gives no hint for the first colossus. It was extracted by Youmoosotc (the creator of the Dormin editor).

Developer Name: Minotaur_A
Fan Name: Valus (Minotaurus Colossus) - The Minotaur
Location name: Temple

Colossus 1 Hints
 - Hold up thy sword to reflect the light onto the colossus. Its vitals shall be revealed...
- Thou must climb the colossi to reach its vitals...
 - Attack its leg in order to cut a path for thyself...

The first colossus Wander comes into contact with sets the stage for what players can come to expect in this game, and it sets the bar high from the outset! When you first see this enormous lumbering beast you are instantly amazed at the sheer size of the creature and how lifelike it seems. Ueda said once that this was his favourite colossus, perhaps because it was one of the first to be developed fully, so there may be some sentimental value for him?

Sign of the Colossus

The first colossus is very close to the Shrine of Worship, just a quick ride across the plains heading South to reach its lair. But it's one of the most memorable moments in the game, you arrive at sheers cliffs, punctuated by a series of winding ledges that lead to the top. You have to work out not only how to grip onto surfaces (such as moss), but also how to climb, jump up onto a ledge, shimmy along a ledge and roll under an obstruction, It's a steep learning curve, but thankfully there are hints to help you on your way.

Makeshift wooden bridge

Above we see some wooden planks that have been laid down to bridge the gap in the cliffs, it's one of the only places in the game where you see obvious signs of the previous inhabitants as they were clearly placed here by someone, and it seems very unlikely these wooden planks could have fallen here due to natural causes. It's also strange that there is no need for this makeshift bridge as Wander can easily jump the gap. They may not look like planks of wood but if you jump up and down you can hear the distinctive 'wooden' sound that you also find at the base of trees.

Fallen column blocks the way

The above solitary column has fallen over blocking the path, it's the only column like this in the immediate area and seems out of place here. The only other columns in this area have a square shaped profile, but this one is circular. Of course we know this was just put here as a device that will teach you how to roll, but it's still interesting to ponder its origins, how it came to be here, how was it damaged and why it fell over.

Embedded column at back of the arena

Above we see another column very much like the fallen column but this time at the opposite end of the valley, in fact it's as far back as you can go. It's right next to the temple embedded in solid rock. So we have to ask ourselves, how did this column end up like this? Was it once partially submerged in mud, then after thousands of years the mud turned to stone? You can clearly see the base of the column is embedded in the rock, so it's very intriguing and mysterious.

Perhaps we are missing something here? Could there have been an even older civilisation existing in these lands millennia before the colossi and the people who worshipped them? Of course this is all speculation (again) but how else do you explain a column that is petrified in solid rock? Only vast spans of time could turn mud into stone.

Temple is also embedded in rock

Looks like a mud flow has covered the base of the temple

Temple and column submerged in rock

It's not just the column that's submerged in stone, but also parts of the temple. Could this have been a lava flow? It would explain how the rock has solidified in this form, having first surrounded the base of the column and temple then hardened. But there is no evidence of volcanoes in the forbidden lands, and normally lava will harden into a vitrified glass like rock, not what we are seeing here.

Top of the petrified column with intricate designs

Here's another great example of Team Ico's attention to detail. You can't see the top of this column in the game, I can only get up above it by using my 'moon jump' code, and even then Wander gets pushed back down off the cliff face as it's covered in those annoying invisible walls that sound like a motor running as Wander slides off. But the design is unique in the game as every colossus lair has its own style of designs.

What column may have looked like before it fell

So it seems there was once two standing columns, one at the entrance and another at the back of the valley, the front column fell over the cliff and landed on the ledge below, the head of the column broke off in the impact and fell to the ground below (now missing). You can see the broken end of the column (that you roll under) is missing leaving just a damaged scar behind.

Outside at the front of the arena

Has the same 'mud flow' like rock

I explored further and realised that the same mudflow type rock is also evident at the front of Valus' arena, that is on the left and right cliffs of the entrance. Perhaps the temple was just built into the rock in such a way that it looks like it is part of the landscape? If so then the original builders of the temple were very clever.

Top level platform in front of Valus' lair

There is a door like structure high up on the left side of the entrance to #1's area. People often wondered if this would lead to a secret area, but sadly, there's no legitimate way to reach this area and what looks like a door from ground level is just a depression in the wall. But even up close you can see how is resembles a doorway. If it was a door you could imagine it leading through the mountain to the temple ; )

The opposite ledge is also solid and inaccessible. There's no door like depression here, just a couple of bushes and a nice view of the surrounding lands. This was one of the first ledges I ever jumped up to once I learned how to do the jump hack. I had no parachute at the time so I had to land hard, I died a few times before I got Wander up there safely.

Another high ledge above the gateway

Valus outside its arena

Over the years I've learnt how to move a colossus outside of its native arena, Valus is one of the easiest as long as you don't take it too far away. The birds always follow Valus, so in one video I used the title 'Birds follow Valus' ; ) However, this in no way explained what the video was about. But as you will see in the video, Valus is frozen like a statue, and even the hawks flying above temporarily freeze into strange configurations. See video here:

Enigmatic Temple
The temple appears to be a facade covering the cliff walls with an enigmatic door on the third tier. There's some stairs next to it at ground level, but they lead nowhere. If you jump from a neighboring rock you can almost make it to the first tier, but it's just out of reach.

Top tier of the temple

It was everyone's wish to be able to climb up to that door, or be thrown there by Valus as it thrashed around, or even to grab one of the hawks and be carried there... but in the end it was just wishful thinking. We were never meant to climb this temple, it was just for show (didn't stop people trying). There is definitely a door here, but it's bricked over and it's clear you were never meant to get up here as there's an invisible wall that stops Wander from moving around freely. It's like he's running through molasses but you can make your way towards the two columns (seen above) and back again. I'm surprised that it's a solid platform, you'd think it would have no collision detection seeing as you can't get up here.

Update: 19th September, 2017: A new PS4 Shadow of the Colossus trailer was released showing a snapshot of the first colossus temple. If you look closely at the upper level of the temple you will see how different it is to the one we are used to seeing in the PS2/PS3 versions! 

PS4 trailer shows the higher temple door blocked by debris

You can see the arched doorway is filled with debris that is spilling out from above, much like what archeologists find in the ancient valley tombs in Egypt! Over the eons, sand and erosion fill these voids until they overflow. This puts the final nail into the idea that the upper temple door may have led to something. Not that we believed it - but there was always that small hope that there was something more to this enigmatic entrance.

From a dark, grainy image in the art book we can see that at one time Wander hid under the temple and Valus had to crouch down to search for him, just as we see at #6's arena in the final version (Barba). So I recreated the image to show what it might have looked like. This proves that at one time the enigmatic temple at #1's area had a purpose after all. While I was using my hex editor to search through the program code for Valus I found a strange label called 'temple event', I think this might be referring to when Valus crouched down at the temple in earlier builds... but I have no proof of this.

First glimpse of the Colossus

The first time I saw this colossus I was 'gobsmacked' and amazed! And it seems my reaction is the same as most players who first encounter this colossus. You can watch many 'blind' playthroughs on Youtube to see this same reaction, perhaps it's due to seeing something so large and lifelike at the outset? In most games you first have to battle through a multitude of human sized enemies before you reach 'the boss'. This is the mainstream convention in games today, but Ueda decided to shake things up and do something completely original. You don't have to hack your way through a multitude of generic soldiers or warriors in this game, it's all about bosses - and it sets the bar high from the beginning. 

When you first play Valus (without ever knowing how to defeat it) it can take a long time to work out what you are supposed to, get used to the controls and figure out a way to defeat this huge lumbering monster. It's quite challenging at the start, but the more you play the easier it becomes. After a few playthroughs, Valus is easy to defeat (as is evidenced by the incredible Time Attack scores some players have achieved!)

Before Valus is triggered it exists under its arena frozen and without any collision detection except for its club, its eyes are blank and a multitude of hawks circle its head (all hidden underground). Why this colossus is partnered with birds is a mystery but even in the earliest shots of Valus you always see the hawks. Perhaps there is some kind of symbiosis between the birds and the colossus?

You can stand on the club suspended above the endless void below

In the PAL version only Valus' club and rings can be seen and the hawks are missing!

A flock of hawks follow Valus where ever it goes. It's the only colossus that interacts with other animals in the forbidden lands. Above we see the flock as they first appear out of the ground, they catch up to the colossus very quickly but you never see this as it happens off screen in the cut scene. 

Here I have used a code that loads the colossi corpses 'while' the colossi are still alive. I then use the colossi 'kill' code which kills Valus but doesn't kill Wander (the black tentacles pass through him without any effect). The result is Valus falls down onto its own corpse and interestingly they are offset by a short distance, that is they are not in exactly the same place.

Valus in the Forbidden Lands
Each colossus has a code that warps it outside its arena. Why this code exists is a mystery as when you do this they appear in another part of the lands and then fall through the floor. They keep falling and go right through the death floor which is at -300m below ground level (Wander dies when he hits this floor, hence the name ; ) The lands outside a colossi's active arena are the low resolution type as the game only needs to load what is happening near Wander, so I was surprised when one time I warped Valus outside its arena and the lands loaded around it, Valus got stuck in an invisible wall instead of falling through the geometry, so for the first time I could control a colossus outside its native area. It was a one off event as I've tried to repeat this since without success.

This was the first colossus I got out of its area near #8's cave

Valus next to the fruit tree at G6

Valus in the forbidden lands

Valus next to the temple at #8's arena

You can see appreciate the size of the colossus compared to #8's temple

A giant that walks along the valley...

Valus in the forbidden lands video here:

Surrounding Cliffs
I used the standing hack code to look around the high cliffs that surround the first colossus arena but there was nothing up there except the usual ferns and plants. There was some interest in F6 at one point on the Playstation2 forums as when you examine the four medallions found in the colossi arenas #6, #8, #11 and #16 they intersect at F6 on the map, so some thought a secret might be hidden behind #1's area and to get to it you had to somehow reach the door at the top of Valus' temple. But F6 is just an empty void in the game, however in the opening and ending cut scenes it's filled with a huge area of low res rock, capping the empty plateau and encircling cliffs.

Wander on the cliffs (circled in red for scale)

View of the temple from the top of the cliffs

Directly above the temple - there's nothing behind it sadly

Panned out view from above - just empty void behind the temple

What fans always hoped to see ; )
Valus Outside
I can move Valus outside its enclosure before it's activated but it's like moving a statue. Its eyes are empty and black and I can't rotate the model in any direction, if I try to it just warps out of shape. The only solid part is the club, the rest of its body has no substance in this mode. But I still got a few cool shots of it outside ; ) I can move it around for some distance away from its area (about half way to the Shrine of Worship) but beyond that the lands are the low res type. 

Valus at the entrance gate

Valus beyond the gates

Valus further afield

Valus on the plains

It would have been great to see the colossus just strolling around outside (like the giants in Skyrim), or fighting Valus on a large open plain like this using Agro, but of course it's frozen here, just a snap shot of what might have been... I wanted to put it in the E5 forest, just to see it standing there among the trees but it would have taken more time to set up. Besides, you would only see its lower half under the canopy, its upper body would be above the tree line, but I think I'll do that some time just to see how it looks ; )

I did make a short video of Valus walking around the field outside its lair, but you only have a short time before it falls into the ground and disappears. Also, Valus is not actually walking on the surface but rather walking on air, so I have to continually move it up or down in increments so it appears to be walking on a solid surface, see here:

Wander scaled up to the size of the colossus ; )

Above I scaled Wander up to the size of the colossus, but I have to freeze Valus otherwise it attacks Wander and the game starts glitching out. There are two models for Wander, his body and his head, each have different codes that have to be found before I can scale him up, otherwise he has a huge body and a tiny head, or visa versa. When you scale things up they become pale, so Wander looks much lighter than usual, when you scale down a model it becomes darker. Also at this size Wander falls into the floor up to his knees and keeps jumping, so I had to freeze him or using the standing hack, either way there's no way to fight a colossus at this size, Wander is basically a statue.

Early Valus Designs
From the official art book we have some sketches and some early snap shots of the first colossus. It appears be be very similar to what we see in the final version except that it has stone eyes and a blueish tint, probably caused by the different lighting effects used in those early builds. Note: these images are taken from page 96 of the art book, but they are very small, so when I blow them up to 800 x 600p the quality is reduced.

In early colossus designs the eyes were made of stone

Notice these weird spiky bushes growing on the rock face

Valus in attack mode

Early design sketches of Valus showing climbable fur

Have you ever noticed that the designs on Valus' club are very similar to the temple built into the cliffs of the arena? The club is like a microcosm of the temple. This is just more evidence that the colossus and the club were 'designed' and built by people (in my opinion). How could the colossus magically appear from the earth with such a detailed club in hand? Also the various platforms and stone structures on the colossus seem to be designed as well. Perhaps Valus was a living creature at one time that roamed the lands with the other species of colossi, it was only when Dormin appeared that they were captured and forced to wear these stone structures, binding them to its will?

Valus club side and top view - resembles the temple
Valus Death screen
Image you see when Wander dies during the fight with Valus.

Other Valus Images
If you look hard enough on the web, you will find images of the first colossus from some earlier builds of the game. To me these are the most interesting, as I'm very interested in how the game developed and evolved over time. For a long time I've been searching for a new Preview version of the game! I've heard rumours of at least 4 or 5 different (earlier) versions of the game that were released to game publishers and reviewers back in 2004/2005... but so far I've had no luck in obtaining such a rare gem. But, at least we can see from these images what Valus looked like in one of  those earlier builds.


  1. ``The servant shall rise from behind and make the earth quiver.´´

    My translation:The colossus shall rise from behind and make the earth shake.

    Also,why servant?Didi he mean by protector of the soul of Dormin?Also,you can´t activate this phrase during the gameplay?

    1. Well actually I think that you are incorrect with that interpretation. I believe that the "servant" refers to wander as it doesnt make any sense the colossus being the servant, who does the colossus have to serve? Secondly I believe the make the earth shake part can be taken either literally or figuratively. Literally being the death of colossi as when they die they fall and shake the ground a tremendous amount. Figuratively being the. Evil and changes wander releases upon the world by unwittingly doing dorman's bidding and freeing him which can cause catastrophic damage to the world because he is so powerful. Cheers Mate!

  2. Excellent!!! Just excellent!!!!!!!!

  3. Nomad wanted your opinion on something strange I saw this video

    1st recording of it appears in the Cliff Path-17Defeated you wanted to know if this is real or just an assembly

  4. It looks like an guardian,wandering in those imense lands.
    Would be cool to fly Avion through the Forbidden Lands.

  5. Diegho,

    Sorry I didn't answer you until now... the '17 defeated' file happens by using a Codebreaker code that changes the save file name. So the guy has used this code to show that in his video. It's in my video called 'Codebreaker anomalies' so you can see how it works ;)

  6. The colossus serves Dormin of course and it was the first servant, perhaps the 'original' colossus. Its sole purpose for existing is to protect its part of Dormin's soul - I don't think it refers to Wander as Dormin is telling Wander what to expect, not talking about him. Also, each other introduction Dormin gives for the other colossi are about those colossi, so why would the first one be any different?

    And Guerreiro, no - I cannot make this text appear in the game, that is beyond my ability ; )

  7. I concur, it would've been cool fight the colossi openly instead of them suddenly teleporting to their areas when they're relevant
    And from what I saw in the tech demo, unless the colossi were merely examples of how well the game handled the memory of the PS2 I'm fairly certain TI originally intended for you to do that, I mean what with a whopping FORTY EIGHT colossi in the game
    Which brings me to another question: I wonder how many colossi out of those original 48 were going to be bi-peds, or if there would be a bat colossus that shining light in its eyes would be essential to the fight...
    Would've been pretty cool