My Western Horse
Genre: Niece Simulator
Developer: Raylight Studios
Publisher: TREVA Entertainment
Release Date: 8/15/2013
I’ve heard complaints about how different video game genres suffer from repetition, how one sports game is mostly just a roster update from the year before or that one First Person Shooter is the same as another.
No genre of video games is as creatively bankrupt as Horse games. It’s like there’s some list all developers of such games are required to check off in order to create one of these games, and god forbid you don’t use the template that all of these games use otherwise you might get banished to developing games about animals with a Z at the end of their name, like Horsez or Babiez.
The game starts out with some rough 2D cutscenes explaining how I’m the niece of a lady who owns a ranch, because of course I am. I’m not sure why but every Horse/Pet-Sim game makes you play as someone’s niece. Usually it is for an uncle or aunt with a failing horse ranch and you need to help the ranch regain its prior status. In My Western Horse the biggest difference is that the niece really want to own a horse and the mother remembers she has a long lost sister who owns a ranch, so she gets sent to live with her aunt and learn the horse trade.
Even though the menu and static 2D images are ugly, the horse and 3D environments, as simple as they are, look decent. The horses especially are modeled well. It’s weird that the human portraits look like hot garbage but the horses are well done. The game starts you off as the novice girl character who gets to choose and name a horse, despite lack of any experience with horses, because why not. I made a paint horse, since I like paint horses, and named it Reviewcode.
From that point the game doesn’t really do much to explain anything to you. It’s the usual stuff though, you get to clean and care for a horse along with training and competitions.
Now I realize that the games are made for a specific audience, namely young girls, and that I’m not a part of the audience. I’m generalizing here, but then since every single one of these games I can only play as a young female character, I don’t think it’s patronizing to assume that is the demographic they’re targeting. While I’m not a young girl, I also have a hard time believing that young girls want to play horse games where a significant portion of the game revolves around feeding, cleaning, mucking out stalls and scraping the feet of horses. Yet every single one of these games seems to think that’s exactly what young girls want to do.
The non-chore parts of the game revolved around training and competing. Strangely, in order to unlock the next series of competition events you are required to answer a quiz. This is odd because at no point does the game try to teach you about horses before quizzing you about them. It’s just there, and it’s possible to stall progress if you can’t answer the question correctly. Sometimes the questions don’t even make sense – once the game asked me what color a gray horse was. Gray was not in the multiple choice questions. The correct answer was white, but that makes no sense. Gray is a recognized coloring for horses. The questions range from very obvious to obtuse, and again make no sense in the game. It’d be one thing if the game tried to teach these fact and then questioned you on them later, but they’re just there with no context and add nothing to the game.
The part that lets you ride a horse is broken into equine themed mini-games, all of which require tilting the 3DS. This tosses the 3D portion of the game out of the window since tilting the 3DS with the 3D on is only a good idea if you like migraine headaches. These different tasks make sense with the tilt controls, you tilt forward to go faster when prompted, back to slow down, and left and right to lean. Depending on the competition/skill being practiced the game may require use of the shoulder buttons.
For a game that appears to be courting a younger audience the tilt controls mostly serve to get in the way of playing the game. The game often requires quick and precise tilt movements, which can be frustrating to pull off as the timing during training is severely short. During competitions this will cause faults that will prevent a player from winning the competitions. I got the hang of it over time, but it also makes the game nearly useless as a portable title. Trying to tilt the system precisely while moving in a car, bus or just walking is nearly impossible.
There’s also a few separate hiking trails to just take a stroll down with the horse to form a tight bond. The chore part doesn’t take long to do and isn’t entertaining. There are only three different competitions and hiking trails, and in the competition there are only a few different levels of difficulty. The game feels slim on content.
The presentation is bad, most of the ideas are recycled from other horse games, the systems for taking care of the horse are poorly explained and the control scheme makes the 3D and portability of the game pointless features.
Even worse, they’re asking $29.99 for this on the eShop. $30. For a game with such features as three different competitions! And horse beauty contests!
My Western Horse isn’t even worth a third of that price. It’s too similar to many other Horse games that are cheaper, and the unique control scheme that does separate it from other such games is poorly implemented and annoying. Even if it the control scheme worked well and was a novel idea, there’s a dearth of content for the price.
Short Attention Span Summary:
Don’t buy, send it straight to the glue factory.