"You'll jump a lot of gates in Pippa Funnell: Stable Adventures. "
I have no way to open this review, so I'll state this fictional statement as fact.
HonestGamers: Gaz, we're worried that your excess manliness is turning off readers who feel overwhelmed by your sheer machismo. Therefore, we order you to review something less dominating to make them feel comfortable.
So, for you, I played Pippa Funnell: Stable Adventures. It's a game about horsies.
According to Wikipedia, horses (or Equus Caballus) are an odd-toed ungulate mammal used in older times as a means of basic transport for backwards yokels and arrow-ridden colonists. Stable Adventures tries to modernise these antique beasts by having you manage a resort that revolves around them.
After being told that your lazy grandparents have gone for a trip all around the world for as long as they can get away with, you are left in charge of their stud farm. However, when the game starts, you have precious little resources to work with, only the one horse (which is a mare, therefore making an informed player question the 'stud farm' title) and a few buildings like an office and a stable. It's then up to you to control one of the two selectable avatars (hideous drugged-up blond girl or baseball cap-clad chav lad with clown shoes) to run and expand on their project.
Just a few minutes into the game, it will become all too clear why the old bastards legged it.
You're greeted as the new owner with the thrilling news that a horse of your very own resides in your stables and are then tasked to take care of it. You'll then enter the same sequence of events that you'll replay over and over again for as long as you chose to continue this game:
1/ Select the stable building. Then select to enter the stable building from the sub menu that appears.
2/ Select the stable box your horse is currently in.
3/ Read the 'Horse Book' to find out how the horse is doing.
If the horse book tells you the horse needs more food and water, you feed it. If it tells you it is dirty, you clean it. You can stroke the horse, clean its hooves or comb its mane. In fact, you have to do this every new day just to ensure your horse remains confident in you and doesn't get ill or matted or rebellious.
4/ Put the horse riding equipment, such as the saddle and bridle, on the horse.
5/ Move the horse out of the stables.
6/ Clean the stables.
Bored yet? This formulaic routine needs to be completed every single day for each horse you own. Failing to do this for even the smallest period of time will result in the horse falling ill or hating you. An ill horse leads to expensive vet bills and lengthily treatment while a displeased horse will lead it through a rebellious stage where it spits in the face of authority and plays Cure albums around the clock. Or just sulks and refuses to acknowledge you, one of the two.
If it doesn't hate you yet, you can move your choice steed to several locations: you can lead it to the paddock where it can lounge around and relax or to the pasture where it can roam free and even get some horse-on-horse action in if paired up with the opposite gender (apologies to Enzai fans, but Ubisoft still frown on same-sex animal love). If the horse trusts you enough, you can even take it around your farm's course where you can put it through its paces and have it jump gates and.... then jump more gates.
You'll jump a lot of gates in Pippa Funnell: Stable Adventures.
The best way to gain your horse's trust is just to take it for a simple ride across any of the scenic landscapes. You can have it gallop freely across the sandy beaches while waves lap at its hooves or through a tree-choked woodland, failing to startle squirrels and not chasing down evil badgers but instead cantering calmly through the undergrowth. There's a slew of locations for you to chose from, but they all boil down to a static screen with a differing backdrop that you can ride across, offering up minimal interaction. All you ever do in these segments is control your horse's speed and hit A every now and then to jump a hurdle.
Even in remote woodlands or deserted beaches, you'll find yourself leaping over obstacles. Pippa Funnell: Jump Over Stuff would have been a far more apt title.
When you're not doing this, you're building up the farm's resources. This basically pertains to throwing up a guest house and parking lot to keep the cash flowing in and expanding your stables so you can house even more horses to repeat the never ending cycle with. What's even worse is there's no goal to this game and no conclusion. You work towards nothing and, in the end, that's what you get. The farm just keeps growing and growing until you get bored and decide to stop playing; it's an unbeatable game because there's no target to reach, no goal to strive for.
After the hundred and thirty third time I jumped over something, I quit. I wager most won't last half as long.
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