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Championship Pony Package Art
GENRE
Simulation
DEVELOPER
DSI
PUBLISHER
DSI
LOCAL WIRELESS
MULTI-PLAY
No
Wi-Fi/GLOBAL ONLINE
MULTI-PLAY
No
MICROPHONE
No
BUY NOW AT

Championship Pony

Every little girl wants a pony. Unfortunately, ponies happen to be very expensive to acquire and care for so few children ever have to opportunity to realize this dream. Thanks to the magic of video games, ponies have become affordable to most everyone and you can fit a whole stable of them in your pocket. Championship Pony could be the answer to many a childís dreams, but chances are it will tarnish them instead.

visuals

The best part about Championship Pony is looking at it, and by no means does it look outstanding. When you boot up the game you are greeted by a simple menu on the bottom screen that allows you to navigate your riding school. The top screen displays the school in fully rendered, mediocre 3D. When you select your location the camera flies to the proper building, itís a clever little animation that adds a little to the overall presentation but slows down menu navigation.

The rest of Champioship Pony also takes advantage of the decent graphics engine. Most of the areas have a respectable level of detail and the texture work is quite good, and not just for a budget title. The horses are also rendered well. The biggest problems with the visual are some occasional pop-in, a noticeable lack of artistic variety, and your freakish looking rider.

audio

Bad; there really isnít any other way to put it. The only real sound effect in the game are hooves hitting the ground and it grows obnoxious after twenty seconds of galloping. The music doesnít fare much better; it is a mix of rejected Harvest Moon tunes and poor MIDI arrangements of public domain classical music.

gameplay

When you start your pony riding career you will be asked to customize your character. First, you select your rider's gender. You then get the opportunity to select your face and clothes, and that is all there is to character customization. All that is left is to choose your first horse and equip a saddle. You can also name your horse, but there werenít enough available characters for Bucephalus, Alexander the Greatís famous warhorse. I named my pony Glue instead.

Now you can start on the road to pony stardom. This apparently boils down to running along country trails, jumping over hurdles, and playing Simon Says. Thatís right -- there are only three events in the game. Cross country riding and jumping events use the same control scheme, which happens to be clever but poorly implemented. Controlling your horse is controlled exclusively via the touch screen. By dragging a blue circle around the screen, you can tell your horse to move forward, slowdown, and turn. This kind of mechanic should be smooth but it translates to very stiff, robotic movements on-screen. It doesnít help that when you are at full gallop it feels like your horse is floating. Jumping is pulled off by double tapping the touch screen, and while it works most of the time it still fails to register far too often.

The final event is dressage, which in the pony world means leading your horse along a series of complicated, precise maneuvers synchronized to music. Unfortunately, all the dressage events are set to the same tune and it all boils down to playing Simon Says. A couple of arrows representing your horseís movements will show up on the top screen briefly and when they disappear you will have to hit the same arrows on the bottom screen. Several other arrows are also shown, for good measure, to throw you off. The complete lack of originality and mind-numbing simplicity makes dressage the least engaging of the three activities.

The career progression system is perhaps the most pathetic part of Championship Pony. All you have to do is play through the three events and finish in the top three of each to move onto the next location which consists of the same three events. Do this half a dozen times and you are finished with the career, and that should only take a few hours. You can try to earn a gold medal in every event but there really is no reason to bother. The only reason to keep playing is to earn more money, but you will have enough to buy the fastest horse in no time and a few extra hours will get you enough for every hair style for your pony as well as every saddle color.

Plenty of other problems weigh Championship Pony down: running into objects is made far too easy by poor collision detection, the dressage events drag on for way too long in the later levels, and caring for your horse -- a feature the gameís box flaunts -- boils down to randomly rubbing your pony.

multiplayer

N/A

overall

Considering the numerous animal based games available for the DS, Championship Pony does absolutely nothing to stand out, even though few of said games are even above average. Poor graphics, annoying sound, and flawed game design are the unholy trinity of a bad game and Championship Pony embraces each with open hooves.

If you have any DS-playing daughters, do them a favor and donít buy this game, even if they beg for it. Championship Pony is yet another reason why parents and younger gamers need to pay more attention to what populates their local game storeís shelves. Start fighting the shovelware scourge by ignoring games like Championship Pony; there are only a few hours of original gameplay and no redeeming values to warrant any attention beyond that.

final score 3.5/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Andy Hoover
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"There's SAND on my boots!"


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