IGN Review of My Horse & Me
In elementary school my friends and I used to torment this girl named Lara Klopp because she was obsessed with horses. We would pull her pony tail and call her "Klipp-Klopp" and just generally be obnoxious little boys. Now she's a multi-time Rodeo Queen and has earned more money doing that than I have working a year and a half at IGN. I only thought about her since Mistic Software recently developed My Horse and Me for the Nintendo DS. I imagine a whole generation of Lara's, playing this game at school, and becoming so depressed at how bad it is that they immediately give up their dream of being Rodeo Queens. Way to go, Mistic Software.
My Horse and Me is another equine-based simulation. Like Horse Life, it focuses on the equestrian lifestyle of raising and competing with a pure-bred horse. Rather than a game aimed toward equestrian enthusiast, My Horse and Me seems more like a game for kids that will never own a horse in their life.
There are a few parts to the game. Competitions, Challenges, and Caring for the horse take up the majority of gameplay.
Players ride their horse in three different types of competitions to earn medals: an outdoor jumping competition, a forest trail time trial, and an arena even that involves doing tricks of sorts.
Right from the start this game has an odd, detached feeling to it. Despite the case showing a happy little girl adoring her horse, My Horse and Me make you feel more like a horse coach. Sure, we are riding our stallion, Rapidash, but it doesn't even feel like we're controlling that character.
The outdoor competition, for instance, has players riding their horse through an obstacle course of jumps. All the player does is follow an arrow, and hit the A button in front of a jump. There's so little going on that it feels more like watching the even than actually playing it.
The entire game has as little interaction as possible. Even taking care of the horse, a multi-step process, is barely hands on. Almost every single step is just scribbling on the screen. We're not sure how much fun can be had with a simulation of hosing off horse crap from a stable, but the developers sure managed to show us how little fun can be had.
Only one competition even uses the touch screen, and it's to draw out basic shapes. None of the tracing designs seem to match with what the horse is doing. It's not that any of these sections don't work, it's just that they're incredibly boring. Nothing tries to grab the player and pull them into the experience, which is what a simulation is all about. We're supposed to feel like we own the horse and have worked hard to raise them.
Everything about the game, from the one song that plays over and over, to the random trainers and coaches that don't have names or personalities, to the single button gameplay that never changes, shows a lack of interest on the developer's part. Even picking what horse to choose from is lame. Players can pick from a variety of skins, but the horses all look the same. And for a game aimed at horse enthusiasts, they don't even bother to say what type of horse we're riding or name the events to resemble actual equestrian competitions.
Ironically, the best parts of the game are in the portions that have nothing to do with equestrian stuff. The last few challenges become out of place, or bizarre minigames. There's a rodeo contest, which is a fast-paced, touch screen reaction game. There's also something called Horse Ball, which is like beach ball horse soccer, with laser tornadoes. It's like the developers desperately needed to make something that resembled a game, so they put more effort into the minigames than the rest of the project.
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