I'll start part 2 off with some development sketches of ICO. Some I have sourced from the HD Collector's box set which comes with a nice 50 page Japanese art book. The others are taken from the official Japanese Ico art book.
I one day plan to get everything from these art books (both Shadow of the Colossus and Ico) translated into English, also the game manuals and everything else I have accumulated over the years. I recently got a quote to get the Shadow of the Colossus art book translated into English from a company in Japan that specializes in this, and they came back with a quote of $15,500 (AU)! Way to rich for my blood xD.
These sketches would make a lot more sense if we could read them
What looks like a bat that ICO swipes at
Climbing, jumping animations
Idol doors and Yorda
Early design of sunlight reflector
Sacrifice hall sketch - perspective view (wonderful sketch!)
Sacrifice hall sketch
Courtyard design sketch
Main gate sketch showing extendable bridge
Shadow people attacking Yorda
ICO helps Yorda up and the save couch
Notice in the above sketch, Yorda seems to have a blanket wrapped around her, and ICO is snuggling up next to her - very cute early design of the save couch ; ) You can also see ICO pulling Yorda out of one of the shadow pits and what looks like Yorda being grabbed by a shadow creature, or warning ICO to stay away perhaps?
ICO attack movements
Gecko design for the game
In the Shadow of the Colossus art book interview with Ueda he states: In order to bear the responsibility, I did all the animations for the smaller animals… I was actually thinking of putting geckos into Ico. Fish and bats, too. But we weren’t able [to]. So this is why we are seeing design sketches of bats and lizards in ICO, Ueda planned to put these into the game but clearly it was a memory issue that made this unworkable... interesting!
And look at the top of this sketch - a Triforce symbol! It even says TRIFORCE next to it in English. What is this doing here? I don't remember seeing a Triforce symbol in Ico but perhaps I wasn't looking hard enough? Perhaps there is still a hidden Triforce symbol in the game? If you see one be sure to let me know ; )
And look at the top of this sketch - a Triforce symbol! It even says TRIFORCE next to it in English. What is this doing here? I don't remember seeing a Triforce symbol in Ico but perhaps I wasn't looking hard enough? Perhaps there is still a hidden Triforce symbol in the game? If you see one be sure to let me know ; )
Triforce symbol in SotC - found by Tanner Willow (map reference C6)
Most probably just a coincidence? Did Team Ico put this here as an homage to 'The Legend of Zelda' or is it just a unique conjunction of textures?
See Tanner's video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaXlOVlxsss
Drain pipe design
Chandelier falling and crashing!
Pushing and moving blocks
Not sure what this is? I see a helmet above and a fish skeleton
Early switch design
Ico's field of view
Ico pulling Yorda up a ledge 1
Ico pulling Yorda up a ledge 2
Ico's arm movements
Yorda jumping a gap sketches
Thumbnail sketches of the sacrifice hall cut scene
ICO Press Kit
As mentioned in part 1, this was a special press kit designed to create enthusiasm about the game before it was released. It was sent to game magazines and developers etc. to raise interest about this new innovative game. It featured a bricked lined box that contained a promotional candle and two discs, a press materials disc and another disc which features the PAL demo.
Ico press kit box
Press kit box - opened
Press kit - promotional candle
Press kit - inside sleeve
Press kit discs
The press materials disc contains a plethora of images as well as some text files about the game, an introduction and some questions & answers which I will reveal here.
Sony Computer Entertainment Europe is pleased to announce the forthcoming release of ICO a unique, heroic 3D adventure role-playing game (RPG) available exclusively for PlayStation®2.
Hailed by gaming enthusiasts as one of the hottest software titles to look out for, ICO will astound gamers of all ages with its beautiful graphics, immersive storyline and a complementary blend of adventure, role-playing, fighting, puzzle and strategy elements.
The heroic adventure of ICO will captivate players as they wander into a mysterious forgotten world, where every generation a young boy is born with horns. Ico, this generation’s boy born with horns, is consequently kidnapped from his village and taken to an isolated castle where he is placed in a tomb to be sacrificed.
Surrounded by solitude, Ico rocks the tomb, causing it to tumble and break open, freeing him on the floor below. In the fall, Ico is knocked unconscious and dreams of a young princess trapped inside the castle, calling out to him to rescue her. Ico awakens, and is astonished to find out his dream has become a reality. Realising his fate, Ico sets off to save the princess and himself from the wicked queen and evil spirits that reside within the castle.
ICO prepares gamers for a perilous escapade through a vast environment of challenging puzzles, from complex brain teasers to simple mazes. As he leads the princess through the secluded castle, murky dungeons, shadowy corridors and magnificent river scenes, Ico, not easily deterred or intimidated by the evil elements lurking throughout the adventure, must battle spine-chilling monsters and confront the sinister queen.
ICO takes full advantage of the technological capabilities of the PlayStation 2 to deliver stunning graphics, interactive backgrounds, intriguing character interaction and cinematic cut-scenes, guaranteed to excite and capture the attention of gamers.
Inviting and vibrant worlds each have their own true-to-life architectural style.
Players embark on a heroic journey that will challenge both hard core and casual gamers.
Solve a wide variety of puzzles from simple mazes to complex brain twisters.
ICO incorporates elements from puzzle, adventure, strategy, fighting and RPG genres.
Deep, mysterious storyline will captivate gamers for hours.
Beautiful, realistic graphics take full advantage of the capabilities of the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system.
Run, jump, climb, swing and fight in brilliant interactive backgrounds that come to life with spectacular lighting effects and immersive gameplay.
ICO – Q&A
Q. Why is the 'mood' of ICO so different from most other games on the market? What prompted the more contemplative style that ICO entails?
A. It's often said that ICO appears to be influenced by movies. But we rather feel its style is more documentary and nonfictional. Though some plots and in-between explanations are prepared in the game, they are not the main things; we'd like players to enjoy the environment where they are in. This attitude would prove the significance why ICO uses real-time graphical expressions. Maybe contemplative, but at the same time ICO entails the solid goal; you must escape from the castle, which is a player's motive.
Q. Although ICO looks to be more about mood and gameplay than anything else, it definitely does a few things that push the PS2 farther than most games. Can you give some examples that we may not know about yet?
A. Expressions of Light and Shadow. ICO describes not only lights themselves: lens reflection and flare, but also their reactions towards the objects in the atmosphere. Ex. A stage floor gets gradually filled with light or shadow, sometimes in combination. Adjusting sets of lighting is not good enough to depict the realistic Light and Shadow.
Q. Just how big is the gameworld (centred around the castle) in ICO? How much play-time, roughly, will most gamers get out of it?'
A. It usually takes at least 10 hours for the first trial.
Q. How about the 'pick up and play' qualities of the game? Is this one that people are going to have to decipher, or will most be able to jump into the game and do well without outside instruction?
A. We would say the latter.
Q. The game's graphical style and world design is as unique as its mood. Where did the inspiration come from, other than the obvious European influences?
A. We aimed at fusion between European scenery and that of Japanese rural or suburban town. Designwise, we laid stress upon ICO's picturesque quality in colours and density.
Q. What prompted the 'language barrier' in the game, where Yorda and Ico speak entirely different languages? Was it done for gameplay reasons or more because of the style?
A. The main character never understands what Yorda speaks. The reason why we set up the language barrier is that we would not be able to express 16 years old Yorda's AI naturally even if we used the maximum power of the PS 2 hardware ability. If she speaks eloquently with so much ready-text, the player helps but feel it sounds cheap. Also we wanted to fill the gap between the cinematic scene and the gameplay in characters' "acting". So we concluded that subtle expressions such as holding hands and calling for name are more natural way of communication. And it somehow added philosophical meanings.
Q. What sort of added bonuses, if any, will there be in the game for the hardcore 'completist' gamer?
A. There will be some great added features in the PAL version.
Q. What kinds of people are you hoping to entice with ICO? It's definitely a low-key title compared toother Sony releases; just who is it angled at?
A. Those who feel hesitant toward or bewildered by complicated games.
Q. Does the difficulty of the game adapt to the player's skill level, or is it at a set level (or levels)?
A. It is at a set level.
All the torches are lit - opening the Courtyard doory, any chance of some news on upcoming projects from the same folks?
A. We can't tell you now, however, we'd like to create games with more interactive and human touch.
See the images from the Press Kit on my Flickr page here:
See my Ico Press Kit video here:
Now let's continue on with the game. In part 1 we left ICO and Yorda at an entrance blocked by wooden planks. ICO picks up one of the bombs nearby and places it in front of the makeshift wooden planks barring the access to the next area. Again we must ask ourselves who nailed these planks here? It looks like a 'quick-fix' sort of job, a crude jumble of wooden planks put there to keep intruders out. Perhaps the person responsible now lies buried in one of those graves we saw? Ico lights his stick at a nearby torch and then lights the wick of the bomb... an explosion rips through the flimsy wooden planks, destroying all trace of them.
Note: As a test I blew up all the bombs before I used one on the wooden planks - trying to trick the game! How could I move onto the next stage now? I took Yorda into the nearby Chandelier hall door then returned, and miraculously all six bombs were back again ; ) I also found out that only one bomb can explode at a time. I lit several wicks at once but only one bomb will explode. If ICO stands right next to the blast he gets knocked over but will never die.
Bomb's wick sparkles - about to explode
The Cemetery (Grave)
ICO and Yorda make their way down a high, narrow corridor until they reach an open area with patches of grass sporting yet more graves. Two sets of stairs lead down to a lower temple with a door in its centre. There is another save couch nearby where you can save the game. As soon as Yorda's feet touch the paving stones at the bottom of the first set of stairs three dark portals appear spewing out shadow creatures and spiders!
Narrow corridor (free camera shot)
Leftover broken planks from the explosion
ICO can slide down the stairway bannisters - like a slippery dip!
Cemetery or graveyard looking East
Once you enter the cemetery you see a quick cut scene reveal of the area. I used the free camera here to look around and there are some interesting features you may have overlooked.
Off limits balcony with door
I've always wanted to get ICO up here to see if this balcony is solid. My feeling is it isn't as you were never meant to stand here, but the only way to test this is to put ICO there. Sadly, all I can do is use the free camera as I have no codes to move ICO around in space (like I can with Wander in Shadow of the Colossus). I can move ICO and Yorda around in the demo using the debug menu ('waytest' marker tool) but in the final versions this feature doesn't work.
Roof of the building
Remains of a ladder on the 2nd level
Two wrought iron balconies high above
When up at balcony level you can see through to another area behind the balconies. You can see this on the right window of the above image. Note: You can reach these balconies from the other side (from the Plaza level - see further below).
Looking through the balcony window into the hidden room
Hidden area behind the balconies - features more graves!
This red roofed building is the outside of the Chandelier hall
Panned out view of the cemetery level
You can see the hidden room behind the balconies on the left, it's actually just the low res model of the Plaza level to the South where there is an underground aqueduct, but compared to the hi res model it looks very different. But we have a way to go yet before we reach that area ; )
Close up of an unmarked grave - I wonder who lies here?
I find it interesting that they included graves in the game. We have seen earlier that six graves exist in the Courtyard level that leads to the main gates, and here again there are still more graves, four on the upper level and eight on the lower level, making 12 graves in the Cemetery level, or 18 in total so far. I don't think there is any real significance to the number of graves found in ICO, but it may be a suggestion that these graves contain some unlucky victims of the Queen (?)
Lower level has eight graves
Imposing door is locked
Here's another mysterious door that can't be opened but appears to be the type that would slide up leading to some unknown room, perhaps a mortuary temple or storage shed of some kind? Perhaps the gravedigger stored his shovels in here ; ) Who knows what purpose it had, but when I move past the door with the free camera all I find is a void space under the stairs.
Empty space under the stairs and upper level graves
Of course I know there's no significance here, it's just a game after all and games have empty spaces and false doors like this all the time, but I like to ponder about what the designers had in mind then check to see if there's anything worth finding. Most times there's nothing significant, but every once in a while I might find something new.
Cemetery blocks and switches
In this level you have no choice but to fight off the shadow creatures, unlike previous levels where you could run straight for the idol doors to take out the shadows, in this level you are trapped with no idol doors in sight. But you can make a head start by leaving Yorda at the top of the stairs (where you entered) and take ICO down to the lowest level where you will find two pressure switches in the ground, one on either side of the central door. This will not trigger the shadow creatures as they are only triggered when Yorda reaches the bottom of the first flight of stairs.
Grab the box and slide it along the floor until it is lined up with either one of the pressure switches then push it in. You will see the crate lower into the floor and hear a rumbling sound, you have just activated one of the two switches needed to open the door. Unlike previous switches which required ICO to pull or push them, these are a different kind.
Best place to fight the shadow creatures
Head back up to Yorda and start fighting the shadows. To make the fight a little easier, I suggest taking Yorda near the save couch. You need a little space from the wall to Yorda so that the shadow creatures will fly behind Yorda in order to grab her. They do this automatically (it's part of their AI programming) so you can use this to your advantage. Since ICO can hit shadows 'though' Yorda, once they land behind Yorda you can have at them! Keep swinging until they fall to the ground, then before they can stand up, knock them down again until they dissipate into smoke. Rinse and repeat and you should be OK. Note: Yorda can mess this up sometimes by running to a different location, if so, just grab her and put her back next to the save couch.
This battle can be difficult, as you are knocked down by the shadow creatures quite often (as there are so many of them), but just wiggle your left controller stick around in circles quickly so ICO can stand up as soon as possible. Then use R1 to see where the shadow creatures are taking Yorda (when they fly away with her), the camera will pan in on her direction. Run and jump as quickly as you can to reach Yorda, then pull her out of the portal. With patience you will eventually succeed.
Yorda pointing to a switch
Once you have vanquished the shadows you can now enter the door to the next room. As one switch is already 'on' grab Yorda and pull her towards the other pressure switch. Her weight will activate it and a short cut scene is shown of the door opening. Quickly guide ICO through the door as Yorda has a tendency to move off the switch after a short time.
Note: In various parts of the game when you wait long enough, Yorda will point to the next clue and say some strange words, one sounds like 'inna-guk' the other 'In-coc'. Both appear to be Yorda expressing where to go next as if to say 'look here', or 'there' etc. I featured these in a recent video:
Shadows Hall (Shadows)
ICO finds himself standing on the upper landing of a strange room between two tall candelabras. A ladder is nearby leading up to a higher level and down below is a large empty space with no way to reach the opposite side, where another set of idol doors await. You can also see a chain hanging down from the roof above the empty lower floor.
Meanwhile, Yorda is outside by herself and this can be dangerous as leaving her alone too long will draw in more shadow creatures. In fact I timed it, you have approximately 53 seconds before you will hear Yorda's squeek of alarm, so quickly climb the ladder then jump to the chain hanging nearby (note: there are two chains in this room), this will take you to the higher landing.
ICO climbing the ladder to reach the chain
Higher landing with a door leading out
As seen in previous areas of the game (e.g. the spiral ramp room) here again we see the same fix has been utilized to allow someone up to a higher level. The railing is broken and a chain has been installed to allow access. Although how one was originally meant to get up here is a mystery and seems impossible... perhaps there was a staircase of some kind that has long since disintegrated? There doesn't appear to be much damage in this room, except for a few broken pieces of masonry where you first enter, but these are on the other side (opposite to the chain).
Roof above entry door - reveals another crate
Right side is a dead end
ICO Runs through the upper landing door and finds himself outside in the Cemetery area again, but this time on the roof above the door he entered. Another one of those weird crates is here which ICO can push off with ease so it lands on the floor below. There's not much time to explore, but you can see that broken ladder nearby which you can climb down, or you can just jump down (which is quicker). To the right side is a dead end, but on the left there is a door at the end of the corridor.
Quickly jump down and (if you have time) push the crate onto the remaining switch. Usually the shadow creatures will mess this up for you and grab Yorda, but as there are only three shadows to deal with this time it doesn't take long to dispatch them.
ICO & Yorda in the shadows hall
Finally we have left the Cemetery level behind and can concentrate on getting to the other side of the chasm spanning a large space where the idol doors await us. Like before, ICO must climb the ladder and the chain to arrive at the upper landing door, enter through it, but this time take the left corridor which will lead to an area opposite the upper landing.
Opposite idol doors - have no access
Various stone jars line the floor (useless)
Main chain hanging above the lower floor
Left corridor leads to an open door
Door leads to the opposite upper landing
Opposite landing path
There is only one way forward here, follow the path until you reach the end where you will find a thin stone ledge just above which you can shimmy along. Note: The only difference I could see between the NTSC and PAL versions was at the end of the path here there is a wooden beam blocking access to a lower stone platform (see below).
NTSC version has a railing blocking access
PAL version has no railing blocking access
Which leads to this stone ledge - that has no use
Again, it's strange why Team Ico would make this change? First the stone platform was blocked off, then later in the updated PAL version they removed the beam to let ICO jump down to this useless ledge. All you can do is run along this ledge, back and forth. If you let yourself drop to the floor below it will kill ICO.
Top of ladder - there is no where else you can go!
Shimmy along the narrow stone ledge until you reach another ladder, this one is high up on the right side wall. You can jump up and grab the lowest rung, climb up to the top where you will be stuck! There is only one thing you can do here - jump backwards to the hanging chain by pressing Triangle.
Weird metal platforms can't be accessed
At either side of the ladder are two metal platforms, one slightly higher than the other. Again they serve no purpose, but it looks like there was once some kind of structure here that has long since collapsed or decayed away leaving these parts behind. The ladder seems to be placed here for access to these platforms, but once there what could you do? Perhaps these platforms were built when the chain was installed?
ICO jumps to the chain which raises the opposite platform
Here is where you can bypass fighting the shadow creatures! ICO must swing back and forth on the chain in order to create enough momentum to reach the opposite side, once he lands a cut scene starts showing a multitude of shadow creatures and spiders emerge from a dark portal. Yorda will automatically make her way to the wall (as seen above), here she will wait until you land on the platform above her. Swing on the chain 3 times (Circle) then press (Triangle) to jump. The cuts scene starts, but as soon as you land hold R1 - once the cut scene is over you have just enough time to pull Yorda up and then run to the idol doors. Yorda's magic will open the doors and destroy all the shadow creatures at once. Easy, no need to fight these shadows! I tested this a few times in the PAL version and it worked every time. I didn't test it in the NTSC version but I see no reason why it wouldn't be identical.
Armature around chain after it lowers
You may not have seen this structure as you have to look up after the chain has been lowered by ICO's weight. You are distracted at this stage by trying to get Yorda up to the opposite platform or fighting the emerging shadow creatures. But it's a strange armature with four robust metal poles surrounding the chain which lowers down from the roof above.
Chain and armature above the roof of the hall
Closeup of chain and poles
I took the free camera up above the room before ICO has touched it and found this. I find it amazing that after 15 years since the game's release we can still find previously unseen content ; )
ICO and Yorda emerge back outside in the daylight. You stand on a verdant outcropping high above the ocean below which spans out to the far horizon, shimmering blue and white. The sound of the wind and sea birds are evident here as is the creak and groan of a large windmill that dominates the landscape.This is one of the most famous and beloved levels in the game as the scenery here is amazing!
Windmill promontory - panned out with free camera
Set of idol doors on the opposite ledge
Opposite switch needs access
Small pond at base of the windmill
If you wait long enough Yorda will point the way to what you need to do, but eventually you will find that the only way across to the opposite switch is by climbing up the windmill itself. Again, this differs in the NTSC and PAL versions. In the NTSC version you can jump up to a ledge on the East side of the windmill, but in the PAL version you have to first jump onto a broken block on the West side before you can reach the same ledge.
ICO jumps to this ledge in the NTSC version
ICO jumps to the same ledge from this broken stone in the PAL version
In either case, you still have to shimmy along this ledge in order to reach the next higher ledge. From there stand up and jump up to the next ledge, then another and finally one last ledge. Run around to the other side of the windmill until you see the rotating blades of the windmill turning slowly in front of you. You can see by the automatic camera angle that you need to jump to the windmill blades.
Ready to jump across to the windmill blades
I always found it easiest to wait until the blade in front of you is just about at a 45 degree angle before you jump (as above), this way you should have no trouble reaching it. Once there shimmy along its edge until you turn at a 90 degree angle at the top of the blade, then wait until the blade is opposite the top of the windmill structure (building). You will see the camera angle change, this is the time to press Triangle and jump off the blade to the upper most level of the windmill.
Top of the windmill
Broken bridge leads to another save couch
Windmill area save couch
Steps leading to the idol doors
Switch to extend the wooden planked bridge
Once at the top of the windmill, you just have to run down past the save couch, down some stairs until you reach yet another floor level switch. Pull the switch and a rickety looking wooden drawbridge extends out from the rock wall.
Yorda jumps the gap to reach the wooden bridge
From here you can call to Yorda and she will jump the gap to reach the bridge. In one of my ICO videos, I exploited this animation using the debug menu. This way I could force both ICO and Yorda to fall to their deaths into the void below xD. See here:
Yorda opens the idol doors - save at the save couch nearby if desired
Just above the idol doors is a large, flat fenced off area with some crude bricked structures on top (see below). It's one of the few areas in the game that appear to be just for show, but you can see it clearly from the top of the Windmill. Luckily, it's part of the ICO demo, so I could use the debug menu to explore it. Sadly, it has no collision detection so ICO will fall right through the floor! See here:
Inaccessible area of the Windmill level
Wooden planked bridge behind the cliffs before it is triggered
Inside the Windmill
There's not much room to move around in the Windmill, but I managed to take a couple of shots in the confined space ; ) You can still see some water from the pond at the bottom of the Windmill.
Aquifer Level (Plaza)
We leave the Windmill level behind and emerge into a small brick lined room with another chain hanging down. There is a small ledge nearby which ICO can jump onto but it doesn't appear to serve any purpose, we also notice some strange coal like motifs on the wall and a large broken piece of masonry in the corner. But the main feature of this brick lined room is a metal gate that leads into a tunnel, but the gate is locked, so we will need to find another way to open it.
Large empty brick lined room
Strange motif on the walls - looks like balls of coal or rocks?
Useless ledge that ICO can access
Large pieces of masonry have fallen down in times past
Gate is locked concealing dark room
ICO must find a way to open this gate. This means climbing the chain to see what lies beyond this small room. But as soon as he reaches the top of the chain, more shadow entities appear and spiral down to take Yorda away. But this is an easy battle, start mashing the 'X' button and in no time they will be destroyed!
Thankfully, the two dark portals that appear here are both at ground level, in other battles a portal will open on a higher platform or level. In this case that would have required ICO to climb up the chain to reach a higher portal, and by that time Yorda would have been pulled into the darkness and the game would have ended, which explains why these two portals are confined to this room.
Top of the chain reveals another set of idol doors
Stairs lead down to an open courtyard
Courtyard has two trees and a number of drains
One of the drains has no grate
With the shadows vanquished, you can climb up the chain safely. At the top are another set of idol doors, but we need to get Yorda up here somehow? A set of stone stairs leads down to a lovely little courtyard, green with grass and weeds and enclosed by high walls. You see there are six drains lined up in a row in the center of the courtyard and noticeably, one of them has its grate missing. So jump down into this hole and you will enter the dark chamber we saw before behind the locked metal gate.
Plaza trees sway in the breeze
Panned out view of the courtyard
South side boxed up windows
North side windows lead back the the Cemetery balaconies
There are four brick framed windows in the courtyard, two on either side. The South side has windows with boxes (crates) set into them and the other North side has open windows which you can climb into. But in the NTSC (US) version of Ico the North side windows are blocked off, you can still climb up but there's nowhere to go (see above). In the later PAL and PS3 versions you can walk through a small passage which leads you out into the Cemetery level looking down from those wrought iron balconies I talked about earlier.
View from the balcony above the Cemetery (works in PAL & PS3 versions)
Underground aqueduct chamber
ICO has now entered a water filled chamber with two pressure switches on either side and two metal gates at the East and West ends. Stand on the right (South) side pressure switch (see below) and this will open the gate to let Yorda through. Call to her and she will appear. Move Yorda onto the switch so you can head back into the small stone room with the hanging chain we first entered. You don't have much time as Yorda has a tendency to walk around and explore and will move off the switch.
ICO standing on the South side pressure switch
Yorda on the pressure switch
Plaza gate is now open!
If you stand on the left (North) pressure switch the opposite gate will open, this leads to another area at the back of the courtyard. There's no need to go to this place as it's a dead end, the gate slams shut blocking your entrance back, so you must find another way out!
Plaza West side (back) gate
The remains of a gate can be seen in the corner next to the back gate
Once outside you can't get back in
Back of the courtyard - notice the large pipe
A small pipe and valve can be seen at the back wall
The pipe is climbable
Jump back over to the courtyard to escape the dead end
But now Yorda is trapped in the underground chamber, so how so we get her out? Maybe if we can get one of those boxes stuck in the windows we could push it down into the hole, jump down, then push the box onto the pressure switch? No such luck, as there's no way to retrieve the boxes from this side, they must be pushed out from the other side (which happens later).
Pull Yorda out of the hole
I remember this puzzle really stumped me the first time I played, but the solution is simple, just call to Yorda from the hole with the missing grate and she will appear below you, now you can reach down and simply pull her up out of the chamber. Now both ICO and Yorda have access to the stairs and the idol doors.
Another barrier is passed!
Note: This post is not yet finished, I am still working on it. But since I haven't posted any blog posts in a while I thought I would upload what I had done so far... I'll get back to this soon and finish off part 2. There will have to be a part 3 also as it's running too long (I always seem to have too much info or video material to upload ; )
I'm also about to start a blog post on 'The Last Guardian', about the history of the game so far and any thoughts and speculations I have about what might be in store for us this October! It's very exciting! Can't wait to finally play it.