Barbie Race and Ride
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Plastic icon Barbie stars in this playful game, which enables gamers to ride horseback on five different nature trails filled with various obstacles. Each trail is peppered with lightweight challenges (such as jumping over an occasional log or stream). There are also a few surprises that you will encounter on the various trails, including some mini-arcade games that are triggered by certain events. As you move through each trail, the game takes an unusual first-person perspective that shows your view from atop the horse. Game environments include a snowy mountain path, a grassy meadow, and a warm beach. The pre-rendered animation is fairly smooth and colorful, but controlling the moves of your horse can be a bit awkward. This game is designed to be compatible with Sony's dual shock controllers, which allow players to feel each bump and rumble.
As you might expect from any licensed Barbie game, this title is designed to appeal to young girls. While there is plenty of pleasant eye candy for beginning gamers, this game clearly encourages players to engage in low-stress fun that requires little hand-eye coordination. Instead, Barbie Race & Ride is more about exploration and, in some cases, adventure. The game does reward persistent players with access to a much-fabled "secret ranch." For gamers that want to take a break from the saddle, there is an opportunity to wash and groom your horse in the barn.
Barbie Race & Ride succeeds in offering a friendly, nonviolent exploration environment for beginning gamers. Older brothers, beware! --Brett Atwood
- Race with a friend in 2-player competition mode
- Colorful trails and happy environments
- Controls can be awkward
In spite of a few rough spots, this new PlayStation game will provide horse lovers and Barbie fans with some fun and entertainment. Similar to its sister program, Barbie Riding Club for the PC, kids join Barbie at the stables where they pick their horse and head out to the trails. Four riding locations are available: beach, meadow, forest or snowy mountain. The rider's perspective is quite compelling- the horse's mane blows in the wind and the sounds of nature are very realistic. Like the PC version, however, the steering options are limited. For instance, riders can jump or move around obstacles, but there's no way to guide the horse off the trail. There are numerous mini-activities sprinkled throughout, with testers' favorites being the one or two-player races, obstacle courses and a hide n' seek rabbit hole game.
When compared to other PlayStation games, the wait times between scenes are long, and the program's general operation is a little choppier than usual. It also took testers some time to get used to the PlayStation controls, and as usual, adults found Barbie's voice sickly sweet.
In spite of the game's weaknesses, though, five- to eight-year-old girls thoroughly enjoyed riding and racing the horses and exploring the Secret Valley Trails. If you've got a PlayStation and horse fan in the house, we'd recommend the purchase.
Teaches: game play, horseback riding
Age Range: 5-10 (our guess) Copyright © 2000 Children's Software Revue -- From Children's Software Revue® -- "Subscribe Now!"
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Mattel obviously has no idea what girls who have the ability of playing video games want in them. We are forced to ride chunky, ugly horses with unrealistic animations (horses stretch their necks outwards when jumping rather than flinging them upwards. This makes the obstacle course very hard) in environments that look painted-on and thrown together. Barbie is constantly stopping your ride to make you watch squirrels hop across branches, and there are only two gates to choose from (canter and gallop) I wouldn't have such a problem with this if canter wasn't so slow; it slows down the surrounding area so it's just like riding in slow-mo. The firefly game was very difficult for me when I was young and it took me near forever to figure out that you just open the lid near the firefly and it flies in.
All in all, this game is one of the dusty ones in my collection. I would suggest Mary-Kate and Ashley's Winner's Circle for older girls, and Barbie Horse Adventures: Wild Horse Rescue for younger ones.