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iPhone  header logo

HorseWorld 3D: My Riding Horse

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

Waffling on

Product: HorseWorld 3D: My Riding Horse | Developer: Tivola Publishing | Publisher: Tivola Publishing | Format: iPhone | Genre: Casual, Simulation, Virtual Pet/ Toy | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
HorseWorld 3D: My Riding Horse iPhone, thumbnail 1
This is a freemium game review, in which we give our impressions immediately after booting a game up, again after three days, and finally after seven days. That's what the strange sub-headings are all about.

Horses: some people ride them, some people groom them, some people breed them, some people eat them. However, the fact remains: we all (read: "I") love horses.

Games developers are aware that we all/I love horses, which is why products like HorseWorld 3D: My Riding Horse exist - to capitalise on our/my great, deep, and unerring LOVE of horses. In this instance, the horses are in 3D, though I doubt it's the stereoscopic kind, and more the mid-'90s "OMG, look how good Quake looks" variety.

So join me and let us share in our/my love of horses, as I spend the next seven days in - what will surely be - absolute bliss, playing HorseWorld 3D: My Riding Horse.

First Impressions

As you fire up the game, you're presented with a stable to the left of the screen, a Riding Ring to the right, and a bloomin' great big house in the background that you can scroll over to should you so desire. It's all rendered in the "3D" that is so boldly given such attention in its title, but it's nothing special.

This opening area isn't unattractive to look at - it's simply uninspiring: all mottled greens, both types of brown (mud AND wood), as well as a gravel grey. The dreary lighting probably doesn't help matters much, either.

But this is the countryside - it's meant to be a bit bleak and depressing. If anything, we can say that HorseWorld 3D: My Riding Horse captures flawlessly the look and feel of the environments in which horse ownership occurs.

Dashing into the stables for a look at my horsie's home, it's another slight let-down. It's difficult to jazz up a realistic-looking shed full of straw and bum coal, but when the first thing you're greeted with is the cold and hard reality of how these animals live - which is to say in their own muck - it dampens the game-playing spirits.

Now it's time to care for my horse, clean him, feed him, and maybe pet him if there's time. Incidentally, I don't feel much ownership of the horse, since I haven't chosen his breed, his riding accessories, or even "his" gender. I won't let that get me down, though - I've invented my own name and backstory for him.

His name is Waffle, and I rescued him one lonely night from the side of the road in Royal Tunbridge Wells, where he had been injured by a passing car. He was born wild, but I soon gained his trust, coaxing him back to the taxi I was riding in with the sugar cubes that I always keep in my rucksack. After paying off the taxi driver for his trouble, we returned to my manor, where I housed Waffle in my stables.

So I'm looking after Waffle now, cleaning out his hooves, brushing the mane, stroking his coat, topping up the water trough. All by selecting the action from a menu and then rubbing the screen in no particular fashion until a bar fills. Not exactly thrilling, but I'm sure we'll get out for a ride soon enough.

Day 3: Taking the reins

The last few days have brought mixed emotions. Initially, I was excited to get out on horseback for a canter around my homestead, but no sooner had I stepped hoof outside the stables than I was met with a paywall.

HorseWorld 3D: My Riding Horse is freemium, so I appreciate that the developer needs to make money somehow, but it does so by locking off massive chunks of the game instead of slowing the speed of your progression. I wanted to go out into the countryside with Waffle, but this would have cost me 69p.

The only narrative reason I can think of for this is that all the land around my home is owned by the National Trust (or a similar organisation), so I'd need to pay a fee to access it. Entry to the jumping events also costs money, but, again, maybe it's for entry into a competition. Whatever the reasoning, I'm not splashing the cash.

So at first I only have access to the Riding Ring and the first challenge. Riding Waffle is easy - there's a sliding scale for how fast you'd like to travel, and to turn you tilt the device left or right. In the Riding Ring, you're given sets of instructions to complete the challenge, and all you need to do is follow them. Simple.

Except it's not quite that straightforward to achieve the highest rating for each event. The game tells you to pass each gate at a certain pace - walk, trot, and gallop - and it also provides a path for you to follow around the ring. However, you can totally ignore all of these things for 99 per cent of the time.

As long as you pass each gate at the right speed, and hit them all in the right order, you can wander off the chosen path and ride at different speeds as much as you like. The most important element of your performances is the speed at which you complete the tasks.

Since the Riding Ring and Stables are all I have access to, that's all I've been able to do with Waffle - enter clumsily designed challenges and then, when he gets too tired, clean him out, which refills his enthusiasm. The 69p for more content is looking more appealing with each passing second.

Day 7: Glue

I finally decided to pay up, reasoning to myself that it's worth a bit of money to avoid the, er, cruelty of keeping Waffle confined to indoor environments. So, with the wind in my hair and the Riding Ring fading in the distance, I headed out to the countryside, which promised that I would "enjoy the freedom on the back of (my) new horse" with this expansion.

I'm not quite sure how restricting movement down to narrow corridors of paths to reach an end goal equates to "freedom". There's no free roam mode, no wide-open spaces to explore - just two new challenges that require you to gallop from point to point as fast as you can, jumping an obstacle or two along the way.

I feel short-changed. Yes, it's only 69p, but 69p that adds very little content, and certainly not the content I was expecting. I wanted to roam about an open world of countryside, to find the freedom I craved, not a paltry pair of new challenges that require even less skill than the Riding Ring. I won't be buying any more, that's for sure.

The game's failure to tell me what I was buying isn't the only instance of miscommunication, of course. There's the aforementioned requirements for high scores in the Riding Ring, as well as a levelling system that's never explained, which opens up new challenges across each area.

So what am I left with at the end of a week of play? A dull-looking, partly expanded freemium game that's ended up costing me money with a new area that isn't as fully fleshed out as the content that's available for free.

I still love horses, you/I still love horses, we all/I still love horses, but few will find any love for HorseWorld 3D: My Riding Horse.

That's been my experience of HorseWorld 3D: My Riding Horse, what have you made of it? You can let us know your opinion by thwacking a lovely comment in the box below.
HorseWorld 3D: My Riding Horse
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 7 January 2013
With little personality, minimal content, and overly simplistic gameplay, HorseWorld 3D: My Riding Horse is headed for the glue factory
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