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It’s hard to find anyone who won’t rave deliriously about this game, so I don’t understand why I dislike it so much.

First, a little introduction to the game: A young boy is born with horns, and even though he is cursed, he is allowed to be nursed by his mother and live in the village until he is about ten years old.

At present time, he has come of age to be escorted to a spacious ruin and, behind several idol gates opened by a magical sword, sealed inside a tomb to suffer a lingering death for the good of the village.

Shortly after the men leave, a seismic upset knocks Ico’s sarcophagus alone off the stone shelf where dozens more (containing perhaps the remains of other horned children) quietly repose.

The tomb breaks in the fall and Ico has another chance at life. More cinematic takes us along as Ico explores the first three rooms (because we couldn’t possibly do that by ourselves) and ultimately turns over control of the character as he stands, exactly where he started, in the first room next to his would-be tomb *facepalm*.

I could understand the purpose of that exploratory part of the cinematic if it provided a few minutes of direction in an admittedly capacious castle, so that I could concentrate on figuring out the controls. This is not so, since I was required to do some entry-level puzzle solving that were not mentioned in the video.

I wasn’t really in the mood for an obstacle course/switch hunt at this point, but I went through the motions. I learned Ico’s currently single-button repertoire was intuitive and multi-functional as I climbed boxes, grappled ledges, climbed ropes, and closed gaps with boyish leaps.

I’m making headway, even growing accustomed to the awkward camera, and then I get KO’d twice by the first scripted enemy in the game. This is the last game to invoke controller-chucking since, since…

Then a dark memory from my distant past creeps to the forefront. I was about eleven at the time, and I remember a clumsy user interface against a grainy background. I had such trouble controlling the character that I couldn’t even manage to squash leeches without snuffing it.

This game reminds me of Out of This World. Another supposedly ground-breaking game with unanimous rave reviews all over the gaming world. I desperately wanted to enjoy this game, but alas I couldn’t manage the shortcomings that are apparently marginal to everyone but me.

Ico too, I desperately want to enjoy, but Ico’s game design is like a torture suit perfectly tailored against my gaming peeves.

The camera was the first big turd in my drink. The control options fail to include reverse (pilot style) heading, so I spend time fighting instinct as the camera swings around at the opposite vector of what I meant.

I also fail to understand the wisdom of fixing the camera’s 130 degrees of lateral movement to the rear of the character, especially when Ico typically navigates a very spacious, jump oriented environments!

And the final humiliation. The first enemy wasn’t even a random slug bogey, but a scripted part of the tutorial. You shouldn’t be allowed to die in the tutorial!

In twenty minutes, I had streaked the full gamut from excited hopefulness to controller-chucking frustration. In short, I am heartbroken. I’ll go crying now back to the warm, forgiving embrace of Katamari.

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