List Price: $ 14.99
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As the owner of many horse games that involves mysteries and storylines, I was pleasantly surprised with this game. It was very user friendly and simple. There were many options to choose from to customize your player and your horse and there were also a good amount of events so it didn’t get boring. The gameplay was nice, the controlling was easy. The graphics are very nice and realistic. However, the graphics look exactly like the game Horse Life for PC but it was still very good. If your looking for a simple horse game without the pointless storylines and tasks, than this is a good game.
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If you like horses, then this is a great game to buy for the price… As long as you don’t expect a lot out of it.
You can’t change your avatar’s appearance: You’re stuck as a blond female, which isn’t so bad, because after all, the focus is on the horse. At the beginning of the game, you can choose your first horse from a variety of breeds: Selle Francais, Anglo-Arab, Arabian, Akhel-Teke, Mustang, Zebra, and a Unicorn. It doesn’t matter which breed you choose, they all look almost identical: Some have different coat colors, and the zebra and unicorn have obvious differences. All breeds also have identical stats, so it doesn’t matter which breed you pick.
The goal of the game is simple: Win the World Championships in three categories: Show Jumping, Cross Country, and Endurance. As you train, you’ll win money (oddly, you win the same amount of money for placing first in a training show as you do a regional show, or a national show), which you can use to buy equipment for your horse, and clothes for Blondie. I wasn’t very pleased with the equipment and clothes selection: Most high-statted equipment was pink, and everything had a flower on it. Again, it’s a horse game, so it’s going to be directed at girls… I just wished I could coordinate colors better on my stallions.
You get to ride in two areas: Europe (a forest), and The United States (A Desert). It’s a charming enough game, if a bit repetitive, but if you’re looking for a cheap game that will keep you amused, Planet Horse is the way to go.
First, let me say that this is the first and only horse video game I’ve ever played, although that will probably change soon! Also, I find that I’m feeling very wordy today, so for a summary, skip to the end.
In this game you take the role of a girl who arrives at a stud farm to begin training. You can choose her name, but her appearance is fixed (a blond, blue-eyed teenager/young adult). Once you start the game you are given a horse to start with. You can choose from 7 different “breeds,” including a zebra or unicorn (?!), but for the most part they only differ in coat color. The colors are “piebald” (which is actually technically skewbald since it’s brown and white); mouse grey (with black points), dark bay, a slightly lighter chestnut, black, palomino, and appaloosa. (It does seem to me that at least the shape of the horses’ heads vary from breed to breed.) You can make a few customizations such as face markings and socks, choose stallion/mare/gelding (although the dialogue always refers to the horse as “him”), and “temperament,” in which you can choose where the horse will excel – stamina, jumping, speed, or a balanced mix. You can also name the horse.
Once you get into the game, you’ll step through a couple of tutorial-type tasks before all the features are unlocked. These features, starting with the first available, are:
Rides: This includes outings in the countryside, in which you are tasked with collecting a certain number of items (by running over them) before your horse’s stamina is depleted; and “endurance” races, which are rides that follow a certain course that you must complete before stamina runs out. (They only run about 2 minutes.) Movement is accomplished by clicking on the ground where you want the horse to go – the farther away, the faster the pace will be. You can also click ahead of the horse and drag to guide the horse along.
Show Jumping: Follow a course with jumps. As the horse approaches the jump, it goes into slow-motion and three “buttons” show up on the ground. Your task is to click the mouse when the horse’s hoof touches a button (it turns blue at the same time). Then a brief cutscene shows the horse and rider going over the jump before you take control again.
Shop: You can buy riding clothes and tack here. Some items are purely decorative, while others increase your or the horse’s stats. (By the way, stats are shown in the form of five-petaled flowers, with different-colored centers indicating which stat it is.) The equipment has a slightly annoying tendency to run to pink and flowers, but I guess that’s to be expected, given the target audience. New items are unlocked as you complete more courses/competitions. Coins are earned by running the courses, and you can run courses over and over to earn more coins. Later in the game, you get the ability to purchase additional horses.
Horse Care: Every so often (not after every outing), you need to brush or shampoo your horse. Brushing is definitely more tedious than shampooing (which is unlocked later), but still only takes about 30 seconds.
Stable: Where you can equip the tack you buy, and later switch horses.
Locker Room: Where you change clothes.
Cross Country: This combines jumping with a run through the countryside.
With little storyline to speak of, this game centers mainly around advancing through levels of competition in jumping, cross country, and endurance riding, and getting more and better gear for yourself and your horse. There are two locations, a green country setting in Europe and a desert setting in the U.S. All the events take place on one of these two maps. The settings are pretty but not breathtaking; the graphics looked sort of dated to me, although the horse animations are really well done. The game is basically open-ended because of the ability to buy new horses with new abilities (e.g., a strong horse that can complete all the endurance-based events with ease) and train them up; but the events can be completed in a couple of days – there was a maximum of eight events for each discipline in each location, and cross country only had a total of seven including both locations. I didn’t find it particularly challenging, but it was quite enjoyable and relaxing partly for that reason.
You can download a free one-hour trial of this game at bigfishgames dot com.
Improvements I’d love to see:* Ability to choose different looks for your character* More variations among the breed appearances and/or coats* Instead of choosing stats without reference to breed, having each breed start with a certain base stat allocation – e.g., the Arabian would have a higher base stamina than other breeds, Selle Francais would start with higher jumping ability, Akhal-Teke would have well-rounded stats, etc.* Getting rid of the “endurance” races – a two-minute…
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