When asked last November whether The Last Guardian might arrive at some point during 2013, Sony President of Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida, flatly refused to entertain the possibility. Once again citing work being done on “the technical aspect of the game,” Yoshida indicated that he would refrain from discussing the long overdue title until he could “speak with confidence of a release date.” Since that time, it’s been business as usual for fans anticipating The Last Guardian: no updates, no news, no real glimmer of hope on the horizon.

What a welcome surprise, then, to suddenly have something new to report. More than a year after his departure from Sony Computer Entertainment Japan, Fumito Ueda has posted an online update about the game, and his continuing role in its development. Many of the details are vague, but at least it proves one thing: The Last Guardian lives on.

Ueda has had very little to say about The Last Guardian over the past year. Whether that’s by personal choice or a stipulation of his current role as a freelance contributor to the game remains unknown (last June, Ueda revealed that he “can’t really comment on the details” of his contract). In any case, his involvement is as important to TLG as, for instance, Hideo Kojima’s is to a Metal Gear game – and Sony knows it. As the director and lead designer of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, Ueda forged a reputation for innovation, artistry and design excellence. That reputation is an asset to Sony, and as a result, the company has been careful over the past year to stress both Udea’s continuing involvement with The Last Guardian and the game’s importance.

Today, Ueda took the opportunity to directly address fans the world over with an online post in both English and Japanese.

To All Interested Parties:

As some of you may have heard, I left Sony Computer Entertainment Japan Studio some time ago to pursue my creative passions. Nevertheless, I continue working on THE LAST GUARDIAN as a freelance contributor.

While it’s been a long time coming, THE LAST GUARDIAN remains under my creative supervision and is still in development by an incredibly talented team.

I should also mention that details regarding THE LAST GUARDIAN’s release is solely decided by Sony Computer Entertainment, not myself. Please keep an eye out for their official announcement.

Moving forward, it is my intent to continue my involvement with THE LAST GUARDIAN project, as well as pursue new creative projects with a fresh perspective. As I rekindle my passions as a creator, I look forward to seeing where it will take me, and I deeply appreciate your support during this transition.

Fumito Ueda

The background of Ueda’s website features a lovely drawing of what appears to be Ico (though it could just as easily be The Last Guardian’s protagonist), Yorda, Argo, and Trico.

Ico, Argo, Yorda, Trico

A few points in Ueda’s post stand out. For starters, he notes that The Last Guardian remains under his “creative supervision,” as opposed to his “creative control,” suggesting that he is potentially less involved in the day to day development of the game than he once was. Furthermore, Ueda refers to himself only as a “freelance contributor,” never as the game’s director or lead designer, with an “intent” to remain involved with the  game, not the “desire” (or contractual obligation) to do so.

For that matter, the “incredibly talented team” working on the game is pointedly not identified as Team Ico, which squares with previous reports that a wide swath of Sony studios, including Sony Santa Monica (God of War: Ascension), have been assisting with the game’s development. To be fair, these extrapolations may well be reading too much into Ueda’s statement – but what about that tease for an “official announcement” about the game’s release?

To be blunt, the timing of the post is suspicious. Seven days from today, on February 20th, Sony will host its “See the Future” event, at which PlayStation 4 is all but certain to be unveiled. As recently as last August, Sony insisted that The Last Guardian remained a PlayStation 3 game. Could that have changed? Could it be that The Last Guardian will be reintroduced next week as a PlayStation 4 title? After all, Sony’s new hardware should be more than powerful enough to overcome the technical challenges that have held up TLG for so many years. And while The Last Guardian is highly unlikely to sell Grand Theft Auto 5 numbers, it retains an aura of prestige, and could be quite a showpiece for PS4’s graphical and AI capabilities.

Update: In a NeoGAF post (via VG 24/7), Kenny Linder, a former employee of now shuttered Sony UK studio BigBig (Little Deviants), alleges that The Last Guardian is, in fact, in development for PlayStation 4 – and has been for some time.

“It’s PS4. It’s been PS4 for a long time now.”

 “…I know it’s been in development on Orbis for a long time now. It’s platform has been questionable for nearly two years, but the last time it was restarted (it’s been restarted a number of times), it was moved to Orbis.”

What do you think, Ranters? Is The Last Guardian likely to make an appearance at Sony’s “See the Future” event? Are you encouraged by Ueda’s update? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

The Last Guardian is currently in development.

Follow me on Twitter @HakenGaken.

Source: www.fumi.to, jeuxvideo.fr [translation by NeoGAF]