In 2002 Team ICO began to work on Shadow of the Colossus, initially with the WIP name of “NICO“. The NICO concept can be seen as an early design of the final game, were some of it’s core gameplay ideas were already exposed. You can read more about the NICO Concept in here. After Shadow of the Colossus was officially announced, various trailers and screens were shown during the development of the game, and in these media we can still notice many differences from the final version.
In the gallery below you can see some of these screens and videos with early versions of the colossi that you can fight in the final game. Also, you can notice some colossi that were never used in the game, probably because Team ICO did not had enough time to finish them all.
Thanks to Team Ico Gamer Blog we found out the “official reasons” why some of these colossi were removed:
Unused “Bird” Colossus: it was too similar to Colossus #5 and Colossus #13, also the team encountered difficulties with collision detection.
Unused “Phoenix / Ostrich” Colossus: it turned to be way overpowered and it had to be fight in an huge arena, because of its attacks.
Unused “Spider” Colossus: Team ICO was not able to implement a good way to let the player to hit the legs of the Colossus with the sword while guide the horse between them.
The “Bird Colossus” was seen in the desert, maybe it was an early version of the one that we can fight in the lake in the final game. Another unused colossus had a “worm-alike-mouth” that maybe we had to enter into to find the sigil. In a screen we can see a beta version of the flying colossus (the 13th), with red stripes on his wings, that are not in the final design. There was also a removed “spider-alike” colossus, somehow similar to the aliens from “War of the Worlds” or some enemies in Half Life 2. Other colossi that were never used in the final game looked like a “dragon”, a “boar”, a “bull” and an “ostrich”. We can feel that Team ICO spent a lot of time to design the colossi and created many versions of them before to chose the final ones.
The video of the “Secret Garden” was taken from a beta demo: you can notice that the garden design is different from the one in the released game. Also, Pikol was able to pass across the broken bridges and closed passages in the same PSU demo, to find more interesting differences! Check the 5th video to see all his finds! Also, umjammerlammy and wwwarea modded Wander in this version to see if the temple was solid and had a nice trip at the top of the beta “Secret Garden” (check the 6th video).
Even Wander / Wanda, the protagonist of the game was changed through the development: in the original NICO concept, it looked more like the character from ICO, but while the game evolved in SotC, Wander became more and more like the final design. Some beta designs of Wander show him with horns, yellow pants and a blue shirt. This beta model was still a WIP, probably used just to test the gameplay before the final design was chosen.
In February 2009, Pikol from the Team ICO Gamers Blog was able to find an unused area in the Eastern section of the world that is still hidden in the final game. This area remains hidden by clouds on the game map and usually it’s not possible to reach the place without any GameShark codes. This zone was probably meant to be used as the “arena” for one of the removed colossi.
Also, originally there was meant to be a “secret alternate ending” in the game, that would play if an Ico save was on the memory card. This alternate ending was scrapped because Team ICO felt it would be unfair on those who never played ICO to never be able to see this different epilogue. You can read what happened in the removed ending at Team Ico Gamers Blog!
Thanks a lot to Robert Seddon and CoalarDrake for the contributions and props to TIGB for all their researches on the game! HUGE props to Unclejun for sharing various demos of the game, that were an awesome way to explore its early versions and learn more about their differences!
Some more info can be found in our old Forum (saved in the Web Archive), in the Shadow of the Colossus Topic.