Something unexpected happened in 2001: thousands of pubescent male gamers found themselves caring deeply for a female character in a videogame. These adolescents – along with many mature adults – developed a deep sense of affection towards a ghostly girl who wore pale, raggy clothing, had some strange mystical powers, possessed little in the way of a bust-line and was never once played for titillation. Her name was Yorda, and the act of holding her hand for some 6-8 hours of adventuring through a lonely, sun-soaked castle was enough to make her one of the most affecting characters that gaming has ever known.
The host game was Ico. For many it was the first justification for the then over-hyped PlayStation 2, not just from the perspective of visual grunt, but also from that of delivering a wholly new experience for a console that was, at that point, little more than a glorified DVD player. It was, in short, a very reasonable justification for the PS2's existence – visually striking, consciously unique, and unachievable on older consoles.