Pony Luv (DS) review
"Here, all you need to is run through a virtual checklist of tasks that keeps your horsie happy, then put the bugger to work to earn more cash which gets swallowed up by further investing in the original checklist. And thatís it."
A few years back, I read a FIFA review that put a serious dent on my confidence in this wacky game we call videogame journalism. In it, the reviewer -- for want of a better word -- slated it for being a football game and for no other reason, complaining about how EA had invented a fictional rule that he believed was called ďoffsideĒ which would trigger randomly every time a team had a chance of scoring. This forced me to ask a lot of questions, not a lot of them publishable, but it alos drove home one point: if you donít want to look like a complete twit, make sure you donít review games that are completely outside your niche. If you donít know the first thing about football, donít assume the world wants to hear your ignorant views on FIFA. Youíre just going to look a fool.
Which could have put me in a lot of trouble. Iím about to review a horse-raising sim.
Though I saw no real problems with my back-up plan to hang around outside an all-girlís middle school armed with a DS and a disarming smile, Pony Luv makes things easy for me. I know enough about horses to tell the front end from the back, and even that makes me over-qualified. Here, all you need to is run through a virtual checklist of tasks that keeps your horsie happy, then put the bugger to work to earn more cash which gets swallowed up by further investing in the original checklist. And thatís it.
So letís start at the top.
Brave the neon pink intro screen and enter in your horse info, which consists of the ownerís name, the horseís name and gender. Then pick your steedís breed out of a possible six. My pony, Berivian, was a Fell, known for being lively, alert and for having strong bones.
Pink loading screen
Berivian now stands in a field of green. Happiness bars tell me he is well groomed, adequately fed, and has little need for a toilet break. Thereís a menu bar at the bottom which gives you a table of choices -- choices like the chance to top up any of the ponyís bars should they droop or options to dress the pony up. I had no clothes for my pony, so I visited the shop.
Pink loading screen.
I buy some water, some hay and a basic saddle. I return to the main menu.
Pink loading screen.
The pink loading screen comes up a lot, in fact. Just assume it pops up in inopportune moments from now on. Remember -- itís pink.
Berivian is now pretty. He is fed, happy and has a saddle. I decided it was time to take him out and about, so prodded the locations option to see where I could go. Immediately available were a field my pony could relieve himself in, a training paddy where he could practise tricks I could buy from the same shop as his food and gear, and a racecourse. Racing the pony is your main way to earn funds.
Berivian won every race he ever took part in. All you need do is pummel Y or the touch screen. Or both.
Iím making fun of Pony Luv, perhaps unfairly at points, but itís this racetrack that really works against the game the most. You need money to progress, itís as simple as that, but, in finishing first, your breed or button-pummelling skills amount to nothing. Itís all too easy to win, and it always will be; races donít get harder nor does your steed get faster. It can wear fancier saddles, knit ribbons in its mane or wear sparkly knee-socks, and the options available are appreciated, but purely cosmetic. You run more races to buy more clothes alongside swanker foods and equipment, and while you can equip your stable to keep your pony happier, it makes little difference. Run thirty or so races, and you have enough money to purchase everything. Pummel Y for half an hour, and youíll find a game with nothing else to offer you.
Other than a horse. A static virtual pet that, no matter how much time and money you lavish on it, remains nothing more than a impersonal collection of pixels on your DS. And a lot of pink loading screens.
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