Why should a game be hard to play?
Brainy Gamer Podcast - Episode 1

Shadow of the Colossus is a masterpiece...right?

Shadow4 I thoroughly enjoyed Fumito Ueda's stark and evocative Shadow of the Colossus, and I admire his Ico even more, but my enthusiasm for the games wasn't shared by any of my friends. A couple of years ago I had the temerity to assign Ico to a group of students for a narrative analysis assignment. They nearly killed me. They hated it. Slow, boring, bad graphics...and why do you have to drag that girl around with you everywhere?!

Maybe they were right, at least according to this essay by Eric-Jon Rössel Waugh on GameCareerGuide:

Judging from his two major brain dumps, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, game designer Fumito Ueda is a complicated guy to put in charge of a video game. He's an ivory tower idealist with only a passive understanding of practical architecture.

As a dreamer, his ideas are too organic, too personal to fit the clichés that most of us consider the building blocks of game design. Ueda sidesteps convention where it gets in his way, yet not necessarily where it might get in the player's way. Thus we get deliberate and cleverly designed games, meaningful and painfully gorgeous games, that are nevertheless a nuisance to actually play, leaving Ueda's statements, in all their profundity, accessible only to the most devoted.

I'm not convinced, but he makes an interesting argument. I would counter that Ueda's grasp of form and function, his aesthetic union of narrative and environment, make his signature approach to these games not only unique (alienating to some) but integral to how this game plays and, more importantly, what it all means. Play them and decide for yourself. Just like my students did.

I probably scarred them for life.