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Wander and his motives
- Alternate Character Interpretation: Are they all just mindless beasts? Or are they aware of Wander's motives and actively attempting to stop him from releasing Dormin? Or are they, perhaps, attacking out of fear? (Celosia's behavior suggests that the Colossi are capable of feeling fear, as he backs away from a lit torch and may even sound a bit like he's whimpering.)
- Anticlimax Boss: Malus can feel like this to some players expecting a more action-oriented finale. For one thing, Malus cannot harm you once you've passed the Death Course, almost qualifying as a Zero-Effort Boss at this stage were it not for the fact that he can shake you off like any other colossus can.
- Best Boss Ever: Phalanx, pictured in the main page image, is practically the fan favorite. Other highlights include Gaius, Avion, and Phaedra.
- Goddamned Boss: Considering that there are sixteen wildly variable boss battles to choose from, it's inevitable that some of them will end up as this. Occasionally, a Colossus is not tricky to defeat but it's a Marathon Boss and takes a long time to complete the strategy (Cenobia is a big offender here). The most notable ones, though, are:
- Pelagia. One of the trickier Puzzle Boss battles, since getting it to expose its weak point requires a complicated bit of planning and experiment. This is also while said boss is shooting balls of lightning at you every now and then, and you're swimming awkwardly through the water with it. Doesn't really help that it looks rather creepy.
- Dirge. Even if you realize quickly that you can shoot it in the eyes, doing it while sitting backwards on a horse is tricky. The target also might not appear before Dirge makes an aggressive dive, or Agro might have to make a turn and throw your aim off. Even worse if you're still struggling with Agro's controls by this stage.
- Basaran, (though see That One Boss if you found it really hard). Unlike most other Colossi, the Colossus Climb is the easy bit. The really annoying bit is getting it to stand above a geyser in time to get thrown over. Even if you get it in the right position, the geyser may stop just before you have time to shoot its ankles, and by the time the geyser fires again, Basaran has usually moved on. It doesn't help that Basaran would rather shoot you than move closer. Oh, and the geyser has to be in just the right place or it won't work, even when logically it should have an effect.
- That One Boss:
- Basaran (if not Goddamned Boss), for the same reasons as stated there. For extra fun, try fighting it in Time Attack Mode - wherein Agro starts out standing a good ten feet away. See also Luck-Based Mission and Goddamned Boss.
- Celosia. If you're really unlucky, the thing can back you in a corner and never let you get up properly, causing a game over and making you try again. Even if that doesn't happen, though, the stick that you need to pick up to scare Celosia away sometimes doesn't want to let you pick it up, leaving you swinging your sword like a fool and a wide open target for the boss to charge at you. And that's not even taking into account how hard it is to dodge.
- Kuromori fires trios of energy blasts when provoked. The kicker is that the gas that remains actually hurts you. And beating it is no walk in the park, either; you have to lure him up a wall, go to one of the few openings, very quickly shoot two legs, then jump from what is usually a high height to reach the bottom to attack him. It sounds challenging, but it's harder to execute.
- Gaius in Hard Time Attack is absolutely brutal. You have one minute less than Normal Time Attack to beat it, Wander seems to constantly lose his grip and the Colossus' unusual shape makes hitting its weak points tricky. When almost all the strategies online recommend abusing Good Bad Bugs and exploits, you know you're in trouble.
- Uncanny Valley: All of the colossi might be imposing, but their movements look somewhat anatomically correct (Or as anatomically correct as an enormous rock-monster can be), but with Pelagia, it has somewhat bobbing, unnatural movements, which doesn't really take away from its somewhat creepy nature.
- In a similar vein, Phaedra's tiny spider-legs give it a creepy, tottering gait that you just know is not natural.
- The Woobie: A lot of players feel bad about having to kill these guys. A few of the bigger recipients of this are:
- Phaedra, for the scream it emits upon being stabbed.
- Celosia, for backing away in terror from a flaming torch.
- Phalanx, for being the only colossus that will never actively attack you.
- Malus, for having feet bolted to the floor and being completely helpless once you've gotten close to it.
- Alternative Character Interpretation: The game gives you only the barest hints of story and leaves the vast majority up to the player.
- Came for the X, Stayed for the Y: Came for the colossus battles, while the plot, music, and Scenery Porn just made those battles even more amazing.
- Ensemble Darkhorse: Agro, no pun intended. Almost every gamer can agree that the biggest Player Punch in the game is the Disney Death Agro receives right before facing the sixteenth Colossus. There's also the fact that, as a horse, Agro is the lone character who isn't subject to Alternative Character Interpretation: she's just a loyal mare doing as her master directs her.
- Fandom Rivalry: With the The Legend of Zelda in general, since it draws many elements from it, with a fair amount of people who think Shadow of the Colossus does them better than Zelda could even hope to do.
- Related to it, there's also a rivalry between Agro fans and Epona fans. They basically compete for the title of "most iconic video game horse ever".
- Good Bad Bugs: Jumping upwards diagonally costs almost no grip meter, allowing you to reach the secret garden much earlier than intended, although jumping up the whole temple that way is quite a physical challenge in its own right. Was fixed in the remake, to many fans' dismay.
- Just Here for Godzilla: The moral ambiguity of the plot fascinates some, but others just play the game to battle the colossi.
- Narm: The Controllable Helplessness of the final section where Wander fights against falling into the supposedly inevitable can last pretty much as long as the player is stubborn. This quickly becomes hilarious as the music just keeps repeating and repeating while Wander strains, falls, and sometimes even stumbles end over end, but does not succumb.
- Player Punch: The death scene of each colossus is accompanied by the same melancholy tune, which more than once leaves players questioning whether all this killing is really worth it. A more unexpected one comes near the end when Agro falls into a ravine while throwing you to safety. Even though she survived, on a first playthrough no one could say for certain and for all any player knew, she could've been.
- Sacred Cow: Due to the clear Doing It for the Art nature of the game.
- That One Sidequest: Well, this is pretty much the only one but still, reaching the secret garden will take you a long time. Not that the climbing course is particularly difficult in itself, but you will have to make your grip gauge grow out of the screen if you don't want to fall to your death mid-way. Be prepared to make two or three playthroughs and hunt down a lot of lizards for that.
- Viewer Gender Confusion: Most players assume Agro to be a stallion perhaps for how heavily built the horse is, but Word of God is that the designers consider her a mare.
- Vindicated by History: While initial reviews were never bad, it was not the star game of the year, with multiple GOTY awards going instead to games like God of War and Resident Evil 4. Shadow was not so much overlooked as it was just overshadowed (no pun intended) in a year that had several really good games released during it. However, five years passed, and it has been rated the best game of the decade, second best game ever, fourth greatest moment in gaming for its ending, and being held up as a, if not the, prime example of Video Games As Art.
- Visual Effects of Awesome: The vast open backdrop, through which you can make your lonely way; the soft lighting effects, as if you were looking at this world through a permanent Dulcinea Effect; the fluid animations of Agro and Wander, and of the colossi themselves. Pretty much the entirety of the visuals count. It's so awesome that others have attempted to replicate some effects to various degrees. The Colossi in particular are simply breathtaking in their detail and sheer scale.
- Special note that this was done before the era of HD Consoles at that!