Atari is looking to tap into young gamers hearts with pony dreams. More than the young girl embracing her loving horse, My Horse and Me is set out to capture the essence and excitement of the equestrian sport.
If you’re a gamer who isn’t the demographically stereotyped young girl that is featured on box art you will have to look past the loveable presentation of My Horse & Me to find value in this title. My Horse & Me isn’t as bad as you might assume, but it is sickly cute in a good way. Published for the PC, Nintendo DS and the Wii, young riders have three ways to get onto their virtual horse and ride. My Horse & Me is a family themed animal game with one goal, to pass of the excitement and feeling of riding and taking care of a ‘real’ horse. In this respect, My Horse & Me captures that feeling dead on, or as well as expected.
My Horse & Me is also developed with the blessing of the International Equestrian Federation, it’s actually the first video game to have the logo “Supported by FEI” on the back cover of the game. This gives My Horse & Me kudos points towards gamers who are looking for a more “authentic” horse experience, along with pleasing the minds of horse lovers who are familiar with the FEI. Since My Horse & Me takes a family approach the gameplay takes on more of a simulation aspects rather than a realistic romp with hard goals. All hardships of injuries, feeding, housing and taking care of a horse have been stripped from My Horse & Me so the gamer can focus on the important part of gaming, fun. My Horse & Me is a simulation where you can live your a fantasy life of owning a horse without the extra pressures.
Starting off in My Horse & Me lets the player set up their name and gender along with customisable traits on their horse like its main colour and the colour of the horse itself. You can also get into more detail with different character models and saddles. The selection of female and male gamers is limited to a few selections initially, but more can be unlocked as you play the game. For horse selections and options you will find enough here to please your senses. If you have always wanted a white horse with a silver mane then you dreams can come true at least virtually in My Horse & Me. Just remember to clean and groom your horse to build a nice bond with your new riding friend. Keeping your horse healthy and happy will help its performance in championship competitions.
The horse controls are natural feeling within My Horse & Me. Like a real equestrian horse they already know how to jump and when. This leaves little for the gamer to worry about beside pointing their four legged friend in the right direction. The only thing to worry about is the right speed and grabbing the virtual reigns will feel like a naturally extension from your hands. From this you’ve probably already gathered the Wii version is the best adaptation to feel the sensation of riding a horse. Although, it did take a while for me to figure out how to steer my horse, it came with a little patience. With the Wii you learn how to ride your horse right away by using the nunchuk and wii-mote to steer along with the A button for moving forward. There are also commands by holding both controllers back, or shaking them to halt or speed up your horse. If you’re not a patient gamer, the PC might be the way to go. After I got the swing of the controls, I wished a little more depth was added to the design, however how the controllers where tackled, they worked.
Besides the motion controls the Wii and PC version offer the ability to ride the horse in its default 3rd person view or right in the saddle in a cool 1st person view. Riding in the 1st person perspective is a great way to get a real life feel out riding and W!Games pulls this off flawlessly. In the DS version, that was developed by Montreal’s Mistic Software we see the microphone utilized with voice recognition. This is used to name your horse, and to communicate with the animal. If your horse becomes too stressed all you have to do is activate the right button and calm the horse down with your voice. The DS version also has a little more focus on caring for your horse which helps bring out the other aspect of owning a horse which is its caretaking. Both additions of the voice recognition and 1st person viewpoints are nice touches that go over my expectations in My Horse & Me.
Besides spending relaxing time with your horse, you can chase the fame of entering international competitions. Taking part in competitions from locations around the world you will find a total of five world class tournaments to enter. The goal is to work your way up the leaderboard and become the champion. These events are a lot of fun which should bring out some healthy competition and anxiety before the big run. There are also mini-games that help improve your riding skills that included herding chickens into a coop, catching items or collecting items like stars or butterflies. It’s all very casual keeping within their demographic target market.
The graphics look realistic, good production. The horses themselves look excellent, accurately modeled with nice fluid animations. When dealing with a title of this nature I was surprised that W!Games went the extra mile to make My Horse & Me look up to the standards that are set on the all platforms. The environments look excellent on the Wii with a good attention to detail and lighting effects. The snow globe approach to the main menu is works excellent with the theme and helps give My Horse & Me a clean non-cluttered feel. Actually, My Horse & Me should make some other developers blush that a “simple little horse game” looks better than their products with a more serious tone.
My Horse & Me is a well produced family oriented game that focuses on the fun of owning a horse. Spending time with your virtual horse is stress free, simple to learn and most importantly, fun. The production level might surprise some, My Horse & Me is a well developed product which calls out a salute W!Games first effort. On any platform, My Horse & Me is an excellent idea game for young gamers who have an interested in horses.
Gameplay: 8, Graphics:8, Sound:7, Innovation: 7, Mojo:8 Final: 7.6 / 10