Game: My Riding Stables: Life with Horses
System: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Independent Arts
Age Rating: E for Everyone (ESRB)| 3+ (PEGI)
Price: $29.99 | £26.99 | €29.99
Release Date: 13 November 2018 (Switch)
Review code kindly provided by KalypsoMediaGroup
Overall Feeling: I’m not sure.
Thanks to our friends at Kalypso Media, I along with my two eldest girls have started to play My Riding Stables for Nintendo Switch. My eldest daughter, in particular, is a big horse lover and so this game enables myself to share a little in her hobby. Over the last week, we’ve managed to play the game, and I’ve enjoyed the games’ concept. I’m somewhat hoping that a more in-depth horse simulation game may come to Switch. However, the game does have issues and begins to feel bare once upgrades are unlocked.
My Riding Stables is colourful and contains nice but limited elements for horse lovers to enjoy. At first, one of my daughters commented on how the game lacked customisation options, and even though further clothes options become available via the stud farm’s office, character customisation is rather bare bones. Players can choose only their characters gender and hair look from the choice of just two hairstyles and four hair colours.
Graphically, the game does lack polish, particularly when compared to an earlier version developed for PC. One daughter, in particular, felt let down by the visuals whereas the other seemed okay with them. However, both children did express disappointment about the game’s controls.
O Those controls!
Players control their character by using the left analogue stick. Up and Down moves your character forward and backwards whereas right and left changes their direction. Sadly this results in both a frustrating and sluggish play experience. There’s just no fluidity in the way your character moves.
Regular analogue controls or using the right analogue in tandem with the left stick to change direction would have suited the game much better. I’m somewhat mystified why the developer chose this particular control system.
I’ve also discovered that the game suffers from annoying control glitches. At times, pushing left and right results in your character turning in the wrong direction. I’m hoping that a future patch will be issued to remedy such issues.
Caring for your horse
At the beginning of the game, players can customise their first horse which by default is placed in the paddock. From there, players can walk their horse to the stables and carry out basic tasks to obtain and increase their farm’s star rating. Such duties include grooming, washing and destressing your horse, building a riding hall, riding in fields, opening facilities such as guest rooms etc. Even though I consider these elements to be somewhat minimal in design, my children appear to enjoy them, particularly my eldest.
To increase your ability to care for horses, skill levels can be raised by purchasing and reading a series of books about caring for, training, and breeding horses. I admit to skimming over most of the reading (there’s a lot of it), but horse enthusiasts should enjoy it.
Racing and Earning Money
Once players have built up their horses trust, they can saddle it and begin to participate in practice races. There’s just one practice race to start with, but there’s a competitive race held once a week, which if won unlocks other races. I’ve yet to participate in a competitive race due to my horses’ falling ill before each race. It’s also important to note that if a horse is unfit, he or she cannot participate in a race until better equipped.
When riding, players can see your horse’s energy and skill levels in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. The faster your horse gallops, the more your horse’s heart and energy levels decrease. Skill levels increase every time your horse makes a successful jump.
One last thing, it’s crucial to try and get your stud farm up and running as quickly as possible. To do that you need money, and so it’s vital to start making a profit by training foals in the riding hall. Later, players can also earn cash by breeding horses and opening a guest house, which enables players to upgrade facilities, buy food, as well as essential supplies such as medication, and non-essentials such as clothing.
Items are purchased in the main office via the online shop. The online shop is simple, not very detailed, and even though easy to use, would benefit from simple improvements. For instance, it doesn’t highlight items already purchased, and in some cases, I couldn’t order items without any explanation as to why. I was also left mystified when having ordered antibiotics for an ill horse, it didn’t appear to register in-game, and the store refused to let me purchase more. Whether this was due to something I did or a bug within the game, I don’t know, but I’m interested to see if my daughters experience the same sort of issues.
It Isn’t terrible but could be better
My Riding Stables isn’t a terrible game. I’ve spent hours tending to horses and expanding my farm, but the game does begin to feel very repetitive. I fear that the novelty of washing, grooming, breeding and racing your horses in either practice or competitive races will soon wear off. Younger children may also struggle to find, unlock, and upgrade farm facilities. I can’t be overly negative though because I’ve enjoyed my time with it, and younger children with a less critical eye should enjoy it.
I am disappointed that My Riding Stables appears to be an old game that keeps being ported to newer systems without any real improvement. The Wii game titled Ride and Gallop is an older version that appears to boast a better look and more detail than the Switch version. Surely the game’s developers should try and take the game to the next level! It’s fine as it is but could do with a revamp, particularly when it’s RRP is so high.