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Pew Review: My Horse And Me 2

Who needs Fallout 3 or Fable 2 or the Mirror’s Edge demo when you have glorious games like My Horse and Me 2? Not me! Let me tell you about this game. My Horse and Me 2 is pure win. What other game this holiday season brings you the joy of riding your horse and jumping it?

No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle. -Winston Churchill

Gaming with Horse Power!
The core gameplay revolves around a complex but easy to understand control scheme for the hardcore player. The Left Stick moves your horse in the direction you want, that means that if you hold it to the left, you steer your horse to the left. Of course you don’t play the horse itself, silly goose. You are a rider that is on top of the horse! You can name the horse, which was called Cockbreath in my version. The left and right triggers control your throttle. There are 4 speeds, each denoted by 4 colors in the right side of your screen. A series of impeccably designed training missions guide you through the controls, which is a good thing since it can be pretty hard to use both the left stick and the triggers at the same time.

A lovely horse is always an experience.... It is an emotional experience of the kind that is spoiled by words. -Beryl Markham

The main part of the game consists of finishing 8 tournaments and maintaining your horse. A tournament has three parts: Dressage, Jumping and Cross Country. Dressage puts you in a rectangular area in an exciting locale such as Béarn. You will have to walk over colored circles that form a path, in the speed that the colors coincide with. After a few of these paths, you will have to do a set of QTE’s by moving the left stick clockwise, counter-clockwise, sideways or up and down. This can be pretty challenging, but after an hour of training you get the hang of it pretty well.

Jumping requires you to follow a dotted line to hurdles and then jump over them. If you play the game on Amateur, the game will jump for you. If you play on the infinitely harder Professional difficulty, you will have to press A to jump yourself. Since I like living the risky life, I carelessly chose the Professional difficulty. Sometimes jumping over a hurdle is hard, if you approach it under a hard angle for instance. Each hurdle has a small area in front of it and you have to press the A button when it turns green. Wait too long, and it will turn red and make you fail the jump. Move while in the area, and you will fail. After some training, you’ll notice that you don’t actually have to approach it under any angle, since the game automatically corrects your angle if you just press A inside the box when it’s green. Easy!

A horse which stops dead just before a jump and thus propels its rider into a graceful arc provides a splendid excuse for general merriment. - Duke of Edinburgh

Cross country is an exciting track through a wild and rugged terrain, shaped by man for the sole purpose of equestrian elegance. In this part of a tournament, you can use the 4th and highest speed: Gallop. You will notice how fast your horse will go by the amount of speed lines that will appear in gallop. It’s fast enough to put Burnout Paradise to shame! While galloping through the course, you will have to jump the occasional hurdle too. It’s not too hard, but it’s a lot of fun to do.

Horse maintenance!
Now, your horse won’t just want to go from tournament to tournament. It has 4 status bars that you will have to manage between tournaments. You will need to ride your horse in a free riding area to keep it relaxed. During the riding, you collect stars that fill a gauge. When it’s full, your horse will be relaxed!

The other 3 status bars are caring, cleanliness and hunger. You must stroke your horse regularly and in all the right places to keep it happy. Actually, the stroking animations are spot on and really well done. It’s not easy to motion capture someone stroking a horse you know? You can also call the vet who will tell you what to look for when caring for your horse. Put a thermometer in its behind to make sure its temperature doesn’t rise above 39.5 degrees Celcius! Also feel the legs for bumps and ticks, and check the breathing rate.

A man on a horse is spiritually as well as physically bigger than a man on foot. - John Steinbeck

Cleaning your horse is fun! You can spray it with water, and it will go “huuuuu, pfflflflflflf” when you spray it in the eyes. You can also brush dirt off your horse. Or use a little jackhammer thing to remove small rocks from the hoofs and then brush the hoofs. Finally you can pick up hay from the ground and put it in a wheelbarrow. You can fit 4 pieces of hay in one wheelbarrow, and there are 16 pieces of hay. After removing the filthy hay, you can fill the stable with fresh hay again. Mmmmm, smell that fresh hay smell!

The last thing you can do is feeding your horse. You will need to select grains, fruit and vegetables depending on how much work your horse has done. The game pretty much pre-selects what you have to select, but ah well. One can’t be too careful when it comes to proper horse feeding!

Horse Fun and Horse stories!
Throughout the course of completing tournaments, you unlock various Fun Games. These include racing against a storyline friend (press A and B till you win), riding a Bull (pretty hard but awesome to watch), navigating a labyrinth without Tom Cruise in it, herding foal into a gate and pushing a big ball through gates. Playing 10 Fun Games nets you 70gs while mastering each Fun Game gives you 10gs per game. Sweet!

He flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions. ~Stephen Leacock

The storyline is an epic tale of farmboy romance, making friends with Katelyn and helping your Uncle keeping his ranch by winning the final tournament. It’s not the best story ever, but it beats the one in High School Musical 3.

Horses on the Wii!
The Wii version is the same in all respects except graphics, sound and controls. Instead of using the left stick to steer, you need to twist the nunchuk and Wii remote to go left or right. This is a bit weird at first, but when you get into it, it feels a bit more like horse riding. Instead of the triggers, you use the B and Z buttons to manage your speed. To jump, you can either press A or flip the remote + nunchuk upwards like you were holding the handles. For the QTE’s, you will have to move the remote to the side or up or down. This is pretty unresponsive and kinda fails.

The graphics lack the next-gen polish of the 360 version. There is a lack of quality to the models, although the animation is the same. The grass is also less detailed in the Wii version. More importantly, there is not 5.1 on the Wii which makes horse riding a lot less fun.

Horse Conclusion!
That’s not to say that this is a perfect Horse riding simulation though. It’s obvious that Tate Interaction, a polish developer, took the FEI license and did with it what it could. The also managed some perky breast physics and bum movements. Although your character’s arms are really thin and blocky, she does ride her horse with girlish majesty. It’s just a shame that you can only customize the name, skin color, eye color and hair color of your protagonist. The same holds true for your horse: you can only choose body and tail/mane colors. Although you can customize your clothing and horse gear a lot with unlockables, it still leaves some stuff to be desired. Maybe we will get to see that in My Horse and Me 3?

O! for a horse with wings! - William Shakespeare, Cymbeline

The biggest drawback is that you do not get the achievement for finishing the game on Amateur if you finish the game on Professional. Since you get 140gs for this, it is very disappointing for the achievement whore. VERY disappointing!

Overall, it’s a solid horse riding game on the 360. The Wii controls are fun when they work, but since the QTE’s are very important in Dressage, you will fail a lot because of the unresponsiveness. It's just no Barbie Horse Adventures, but can any game really ever reach that level of horsey greatness ever again? I think not.

Check this glorious video in phone camera vision with Mumble(TM) audio since there are no trailers or official screenshots of this game at all, not even on the Atari website

Final Grade: 11/10

Interesting note: If you just keep pressing A to start the game, the game won’t select a storage device and those 5 hours you put into it late at night will all be UTTERLY GONE. For more screenshots, check this dutch site..

Stay tuned for a multigame review for two of the greatest Wii titles of 2008!
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About Maurice Tanone of us since 5:41 AM on 07.16.2007

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Hai! You may know me as Professor Pew in older times. If you see a cblog here from beyond September 2010 or something: that's from the cblogging days and not anything editor-related :)