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Pony Luv (DS) artwork

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.

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (December 01, 2008)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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If you enjoyed this Pony Luv review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

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Lewis posted December 02, 2008:

Remember this?

I love horses.

They're the best of all the animals.

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overdrive posted December 02, 2008:

It is my humble opinion that you should specialize in reviewing animal sims. Nothing but animal sims.

This review made me laugh. Both at some of the lines and of the thought of you playing a game prominently featuring a pink loading screen.
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wolfqueen001 posted December 02, 2008:

Baha. That site's so girly. Though if you love horses, Lewis, you should've read my blog post around late September. That was fun. And I bet it'll make you soooo jealous.

I stand by what I said about this review yesterday. It's amusing, but it didn't really appeal to me the way your other horsey review did. Though I will add that I liked the intro and found that interesting. What FIFA review was this?
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zippdementia posted December 02, 2008:

This review was pretty genius. I have absolutely no criticism to level at it. The pacing is great, the points are well made, it bashes without losing its critical value, the jokes are well timed and don't over repeat themselves, and your introduction is fabulous.

A brilliant review. Too bad it's for a depressingly bad game.
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wolfqueen001 posted December 02, 2008:

Well, zipp, if you liked this one so much, then you'll probably love this one.
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Lewis posted December 02, 2008:

I'm rather indifferent about horses but I remember constantly laughing at that website and magazine for about three weeks a few years ago.
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bigcj34 posted December 02, 2008:

As a football loving Brit, I have to say that how you switched from FIFA to a horse-sim was freakin' genius. However, I must point out that FIFA is spelt in all capitals. As a football-loving Brit I see it as imperative that the title world governing body is punctuated properly. XD
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EmP posted December 04, 2008:

How could I forget that advert? It took over the entire country while it ran and I'd happily forgotten it after years of it playing in my head. You'll pay for this, Lewis!

Many thanks for the kind words, to the rest of you. Aside from WQ, of course, whose reaction to anything I write these days is "The review you wrote x years ago was much better!" It's comforting to know that I managed to pull this one off, review material considerd!

I'll capitilise Fifa when they're headed by someone sane, CJ.
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wolfqueen001 posted December 04, 2008:

Oh, hush, you whiner. This was the only one I said something like that about in a whiile. You can't expect me (or everyone) to love everything you write. Just like I don't expect you (or everyone) to love evverything I (or anyone else) writes. Besides, I told you this was good for the material at hand (or at least implied it); maybe you overlooked that part when I told so.

But if you prefer, I could just stop reading your reviews altogether. Or spout endless praise and keep anything negative to myself..

EmP is the best writer on the Internet. There, feel better now?
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Halon posted December 04, 2008:

so EmP this game is better than Chrono Cross?
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overdrive posted December 04, 2008:

Chrono Cross...... now there's a rainy day review I need to write. Just because I haven't done so yet. My score will fall somewhere between EmP's and those given by rabid fanboys.

Which leaves all numbers ranging from 2 to 9. Keeps a touch of mystery to the proceedings. And anticipation, as none of you know when I'll bestow my CC review on you.

Which would make it quite the letdown if I forget all about doing it and I don't write one until, say, 2010. Also known as the year I will review Street Fighter 2010 (NES).
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zippdementia posted December 04, 2008:

I think CC would garner a 6 or 7 from me, leaning more towards the 6.
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EmP posted January 17, 2009:


I love how Sporty's reaction to anything I score 2 is to point out how it must be better than Chrono Cross! I dunno, though; I think I'd rather play Pony Luv than CC; they're both pointless, but the former's over in half an hour, at least.

WQ has a point. I am the best writer on the internet.
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Genj posted January 17, 2009:

Chrono Cross' experience system was the dumbest thing ever because you don't gain levels from fighting enemies, so you never become any stronger during dungeons. As a result, the battles never get any shorter and feel the same every time, which gets boring quickly. People say this system is great because you don't need to build levels, but you haven't had to stop and build levels in a Squaresoft RPG since maybe Final Fantasy IV. I even strongly preferred FF8's Junction System even if it was flawed and had a fairly steep learning curve (it's very easy to play FF8 in a way that it's absolutely no fun at all). Sportsman hates RPGs so I find it weird that he would enjoy such a boring one unless he likes that you can get by fairly well with fighting very few enemy encounters.

In summation, Chrono Cross is not very fun.
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zippdementia posted January 17, 2009:

FF8 blows HUUUUUUUUUUUGE chunks.

CC may not be gold, but it's better than THAT, at least.
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EmP posted January 17, 2009:

No it's not.

Hate FF8 or love it, it at least makes an iota of sense.
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Halon posted January 17, 2009:

I played a few post-FFIV JRPGs; Final Fantasy VII, Star Ocean 2, about half of Grandia and Tales of Symphonia(sp), some LoD and FFX, and probably a few more that I don't remember off the top of my head. Nothing super new but then again there have been maybe three big name JRPGs released in the past 5-6 years. Anyways they have all involved level grinding, maybe not excessive but it is still there. Based on what I'm hearing the genre is getting better at eliminating this but it's still not there yet. I might be wrong since I haven't played a game from the genre in ages but this is was always a major problem to me.
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wolfqueen001 posted January 17, 2009:

There's level grinding in LoD?
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Genj posted January 17, 2009:

I can see why you wouldn't like RPGs if you have to stop and build experience in games like Tales of Symphonia and FFX. FFX especially. I swear 75% of the enemies went down in one hit if you used the right character. Star Ocean 2 is tough, but maybe that's why I specifically mentioned Squaresoft? The thing about RPGs is a lot of stuff factors in to how you're going to play, how easy it'll be for you, etc and I don't think I really feel like writing a huge tome on my thoughts on such a thing. Sorry. Maybe I'll make a blog post about it someday.
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WilltheGreat posted January 17, 2009:

WQ's right. Unless you spend weeks fighting random encounters it's pretty well impossible to level grind in LoD.
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overdrive posted January 17, 2009:

Newish RPGs I've played over the last year and level grinding: NOTE: This doesn't take into effect those hardcore message board strategies like beating FF XII with a L 3,2,1 or whatever party.

1. Dragon Quest VIII: A bit towards the beginning before you go to the first dungeon. After that, only after you get the ship......assuming you visit a bunch of places that the plot hasn't taken you to yet. Mainly because there is good, but expensive equipment in a couple of places you CAN get to, but you have to fight some tough enemies. Maybe also to beat Dhoulmagus. He's a tough one.

2. Final Fantasy XII: If you want to do some of the upper-tier optional fights, yes. If not, no.

3. Tales of Legendia: Nope.

4. Rogue Galaxy: A decent amount. Seems like when I'd hit a new area, I'd find myself having to get a few levels so as not to have to run through healing potions like crazy during encounters.

5. SMT: Persona 3: That's the foundation of this game's dungeon -- level grinding until enemies run from you and then progressing to where the new, tougher set of monsters is. The battles are short and fun, but I haven't found myself as enthralled with it as others. Haven't even touched it in two months or so. It seemed like when I found myself able to spend more and more time fighting in Tarturus, my enjoyment started to diminish a bit.

6. I know there's more, but my mind is blanking.....

With Chrono Cross, I'd call the combat and experience (or lack thereof) less of a problem than others the game had. You'd beat a boss to gain a level, fight 2-4 encounters with anything (because you did get tiny bonuses for your first couple battles after getting a level) and then try to avoid as much as possible until the next boss. It made the experience of playing the game a bit rushed, as you'd literally be trying to sprint through areas just to get to a boss.....but I think I'd have rather had that than a situation where I was stuck having to fight 500 encounters to get through a short dungeon. I was more annoyed with how the game decided to give us 40 interchangeable players (a couple of unique special attacks.....and that's about it) with stupid accents and a garbled and convoluted plot that stretched two parallel worlds where you'd get to explore the same places twice (I REALLY "loved" that second trip through the big dungeon where Serge has that fateful "turns into Lynx" moment around midway through the game). Yeah, compared to that, not having a reason to fight a bunch of minor battles didn't bother me. If anything, it made some of the more tedious aspects of things more palatable for me.
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Genj posted January 17, 2009:

OD I actually didn't do much grinding in Persona 3 until I got to the optional dungeon. Basically once you get to the highest you can go in a month, you're strong enough for the next full moon.
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Halon posted January 17, 2009:

I should reword that last post: those are post FFIV JRPG's off the top of my head that I've played, regardless of whether they required level grinding or not. I grew up on Western RPGs that usually do not require any sort of level grinding so maybe that's why I don't enjoy it at all. By the way this isn't the only grudge I have against JRPGs; I don't like many aspects of the genre that I don't want to get into.

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