Crispy Gamer

Man Versus Shadow of the Colossus, Part 3

Read Parts One, Two, Four and Five of Man Versus Shadow of the Colossus.

Colossus Seven (Thursday, 12/18)

My girlfriend and I have mutually decided to forego Christmas gifts this year in the name of saving money for the apartment we want to buy. But I wake up this morning, worried that she got me a gift anyway. I consult fellow Game Truster Evan Narcisse on this matter. "Of course she got you something," he says.

"So when you make a deal not to get anything for each another, that doesn't actually mean that you don't get anything for each other?" I ask.

He gives me a quick eye-roll. "You're so naive sometimes, Jones," he says.

Man Versus Shadow of the Colossus, Part 3
Those headlights in the distance? They're actually spikes on Colossus No. 7 [aka The Hairy Eel] that you're about to fight.

I take a break from hunting around on Amazon for gifts for her and decide to track down today's Colossus. As Agro and I gallop across the land, I'm impressed by the square-footage of the game; it's rivaled only by the square footage of the Grand Theft Auto games. The landscape of the game constantly sprawls in new, unforeseen directions, all of it without a load screen. (I can hear the chit-whiirrr-chiiiiit-chit of the game disc constantly streaming data during gameplay.)

I arrive at yet another murky lake. This Colossus is a hair-covered (hooray for hair) giant eel that has three electrically charged spires on his back. This is the first Colossus that doesn't have an articulated face/head, so maybe I won't feel so crappy after I kill this one.

He's aquatic, diving and surfacing, then diving again. I notice that the hairy patch on his back sometimes breaks the surface. I swim close to it. I grab hold when he surfaces. Then he drags me down to the deep in the game's version of a Nantucket Sleigh Ride. I hang onto the hair as he swims, and notice that I'm running out of breath (the pink circle on the lower right-hand side, aka the grip meter, does double duty as the breath-holding meter; the smaller it gets, the closer I am to drowning). The eel-Colossus surfaces. And when he does, not only can I catch my breath, but I can also move. I scramble closer to the first of the three spires. I stab a weak point just behind it, putting it out of commission.

He dives. Surfaces. I scramble. I take care of the second and third spires. I spot the blue tattoo on his big, flat head. I drive my blade into it. Black geysers. Death. As I suspected, I don't feel so bad about this one. This is the least emotion I've felt since starting the game. Maybe I'm finally turning into a cold-blooded Colossus killer after all.

Colossus Eight (Friday, 12/19)

I order my in-case-of-emergency-here's-this gift from Amazon, per Narcisse's suggestion. My girlfriend is an architect, and I read about this cool pop-up architecture book in the Times earlier in the week. I pay a few dollars extra to ensure delivery by Christmas.

The eighth Colossus is stuck at the bottom of this coliseum, and he has some anger to release. And gas, from eating one too many El Monterey burritos. Lots of gas.

I have a crappy tree I bought at Target last year. I dig it out of storage and set it up. I'm in such a good mood that I'm whistling "Frosty the Snowman" at an ear-piercing volume. But my good mood fades when I encounter the day's Colossus. It's a black lizard at the bottom of what appears to be a sunken, five-story coliseum. When he spots me, he shoots gas grenade-things at me which create lingering poison clouds that will kill me.

The Colossi up to this point have been relatively passive creatures; they've basically been spatial-relations puzzles that need to be solved. But despite this being the smallest Colossus in the game thus far -- he's really no bigger than a station wagon -- this one is actually dangerous. He kills me. I reload my game. I feel angry now. There's no pathos this time. No more of this Sierra Club-like oh-these-poor-helpless-things attitude.

He loses sight of me and begins to climb the walls of the coliseum. I pull out my bow, target the strange markings on his feet. My arrow hits home, and he loses his footing. He falls to the coliseum floor onto his back, revealing a pair of -- you guessed it -- blue tattoos on his belly.

One question that bothers me: Where did the Colossi get these tattoos? Did they all take a field trip to the East Village? "I'll take that blue curlicue-thing," I picture each of them saying. "And be sure to put it directly over the weak spot on my body."

Man Versus Shadow of the Colossus, Part 3
Cellphone reception is awful in Colossus Land. If you've got T-Mobile, you're basically screwed.

I drop into the coliseum, and I'm climbing onto him when his legs begin to bicycle in the air. He's already coming to, damn it all. I get to stick him quick before he turns over. I climb back up into the higher levels of the coliseum. He climbs after me. I shoot the feet. He falls. Rinse, repeat.

It takes me around 45 minutes to finish this one off. This is the most tedious battle I've had so far. When I do finally kill him, there's absolutely no sadness. The mournful air about the game is gone now. If I could skin this lizard, and use its pelt as a rug to decorate my drafty shrine, I would.

Colossus Nine (Saturday, 12/20)

I haven't heard from my parents in two days and I'm worried. Maybe some petty criminals shot them in a rest area and took my Christmas presents (underwear and t-shirts wrapped in festive paper). I wonder what actors will play them when they film the reenactment for an episode of "America's Most Wanted"? I call my mom's cell. My mom answers on the first ring. "Are you worried about us?" she asks playfully.

"Of course I'm worried."

"We're fine. We're ADULTS."

Man Versus Shadow of the Colossus, Part 3
The map is pretty, but it's as useful as tits on a bull.

"You don't act like adults sometimes."

"So we've decided to spend the night in Pennsylvania tonight, then drive into New York in the morning. Happy now?"

"You're getting a hotel?"

"We're getting a hotel."

"I'm very happy," I say. "It's a Christmas miracle."

My mother laughs, then hangs up the phone.

I run the vacuum. I've got one of those bagless vacuums that constantly need to be emptied. After I finish with the living room, I dump an amazing quantity of cat hair into the garbage. It looks like one of the Golden Girls threw her wig away in my garbage.

The ninth Colossus is positively huge, and vaguely resembles the Scarab from Halo. He's a cave-dwelling monstrosity that, like the black lizard, also shoots things at me and tries to hurt me. He slowly pounds his way across a desert plain towards me. Again, Agro gets in the goddamn way. Nearby geysers erupt every few seconds. I figure they must have something to do with it, so I lead him towards a geyser. Once he's positioned above a geyser, the force of the geyser literally lifts the Colossus off the ground, exposing the weak points on his feet. I fire arrows into his feet, and he collapses. His exposed belly is conveniently covered with a nice, thick pelt of hair. I climb aboard, get topside, then locate his blue tattoo on his head. Stab, stab, stab, goodnight moon.

Read Parts One, Two, Four and Five.