After years of campaigning, endless petitions and many lives lost, two of the unlikeliest activities have finally merged together. Taking the exhilarating horse racing and matching it up with it’s clear sports brother – Solitaire – comes possibly the most bonkers new 3DS title. Racing horses whilst playing the slower paced card game seem’s a strange mix although with Pokemon developers Game Freak behind the wheel high expectations are set. Can this crazy formula deliver or are you backing a three-legged horse?
Coming off the back of a near death experience caused by a number of horses trampling our protagonist. Our Jockey friend is reborn with (everyone’s favourite super power) the ability to race horses by playing solitaire. Now with trainer “Mr Maekawa” guiding you and “Mr Bllingman” (Yes, Blingman) backing you with his own Horses it’s now your chance to become a champion.
A normal race consists of the starting round where you have a limited time to find a card with the most blue spots on it. The more spots the greater your horse does out of the gates. Then there are a number of rounds (depending what class you’re in) to try raise your horse’s enthusiasm all in preparation for the home straight. Here you have a number of hearts where you can give your four-legged friend that final little boost to secure victory. As complicated as it sounds, from initially being hesitant I went from a quick half an hour play session to spending an entire evening. Seriously it’s frighteningly addictive.
Early on it can be daunting learning how to play, but with the help of “Off Course” (your helpful horse friend) holding your hoove it’s put in the simplest of terms making it much more accessible. As the quirky nature of the game gives off the text is humorous giving the few characters that do appear terrific personalities making every conversation held interesting. If that’s not your thing and you want to jump straight into the action then after passing the initial conversations you can skip any other tips or messages thrown your way.
The mechanics of the game are crafted to a strong standard with only a small amount of luck thrown in. This usually applies in the first round where you must find the best starting card to get ahead of your opponents. Near the beginning, I can’t emphasise enough how much I felt I needed a half decent card to stand a chance of winning; especially when reaching the higher class contests. Once I practiced more this didn’t nearly affect play as much, still it helps a great deal to get something half decent. Later when you have access to goods you can purchase these to help your next national.
Training is all fine and everything however you’re here for the main event. With Pocket Jockey there are two; Growth Mode and Mature Mode. The first is designed for Horses under 3 to mature learning new skills to carry forward into the latter. Both offer similar experiences just with different difficulties. These are not to be taken lightly as with my first horse “Flaming Falcon” after not winning three races in a row “Mr Blingman” took him away from me. So take this into consideration as getting attached can leave you heart-broken (It still hurts). The other alternative is that when your horse reaches an elderly age it’s sent to a farm to supposedly live out the rest of its days in peace. I’ve heard that before, wait does anyone smell glue? Kidding…I hope.
The sheer whimsy shown throughout is a common trait of Game Freak and is one exceptional quality that bodes well across all their titles with Pocket Jockey being no different. To think this is a game nobody expected, like putting Mayonnaise on cereal, it blends ridiculously well. I still wouldn’t try mayonnaise with cereal though.
From the outside Pocket Card Jockey offers an unusual premise, combining the lonesome game of solitaire with the rapid sport of Horse Racing seems madness. Yet spend some time with the mechanics and you’ll be frighten just how addictive it is. Aiming for the championship is a great incentive, but the real joy is grooming your horse into a fully fledged Stallion. With two engaging modes and terrific personalities you’ll gallop pass the luck factor due to it complimenting the overall package. Before you know it you’ll be yelling at the screen “Come on Flaming Falcon Seven, you can do it!” ahem or something along those lines…
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