Mary Kate & Ashley's Winner Circle
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It's not very often that a game aims to be fun and realistic while instilling a sense of personal involvement and responsibility. Mary-Kate and Ashley: Winners Circle does that within the theme of horseback riding. Players compete in such equestrian events as dressage, jumping, and cross-country, and learn the basics of caring for a horse. The game offers a practice mode, which lets riders master the controls and explore a course before entering events, and an adventure mode with large forest and island levels where players can play minigames or just simply explore.
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The basic premise of the game is simple and appeals to younger gamers. Ride around various courses, jumping a variety of different obstacles and earning ribbons to buy clothes.
The graphics are ok and being able to name your horse and choose colour and markings was a nice touch.
I enjoyed the freedom of being able to ride around and explore the two free ride levels but it took me ages to find all the ribbons and work out how to get them.
Also the terrain, although looks good, gets a bit boring and tend to look the same after a while.
The events are fun and get more challenging as you complete the levels but it took me a little getting used to the controls especially for jumping and dressage. (I kept refusing Jumps because I only pressed the X button once)
The good points of the game are the choice of ride you want to go on: e.g. Eventing, Free ride or Race against the clock and the sound effects and little added extras such as winning rosettes to buy clothes makes it that bit more fun.
However the game was a little bit too easy and does eventually get boring after awhile.
I also felt that the other reviewers were right in saying that buying clothes is a little pointless. It would be nice to be able to buy things such as tack or feed that helps boost your horse in certain Skill Levels such as jumping etc or to buy better horses. Also when ever you take a wrong turn that dratted voice keeps telling you that "You're going the wrong way" or "You missed a checkpoint". After the fiftyeth time you end up wanting to throttle her. I really hope that the makers bring out a revised sequel because there are certain points that would make this game so much better. Despite this though it's pretty good and a good game for a younger brother or sister.
Starting out in the stable, you can customize your own rider and horse, and set out to ride, whether you choose horse trials, three or single day eventing, horseshoe hunting, or a simple trail ride, you can be gaurunteed that you'll have fun. The game focuses around the 3-day-eventing, with progression in levels (you work your way up from beginner's circle to winner's circle) and new course layouts for each level.
A fun aspect of the game is the collection of ribbons you can win while trail riding, which can then be spent like money in the tack shop. While there's no tack in the shop, you can buy clothes for your rider, which (however girly it may seem) is rather fun. You can have a tweed coat for showing your chestnut horse, or a black hunt coat for a white horse. The possibilites are endless.
The trail-riding worlds (island and forest) are both huge, with beautiful scenery and landscapes. Each has several hidden minigames, but you'll probably just find yourself galloping aroung exploring. With the two-player option, you can ride with a friend, which is even more fun. The music that plays in the background for these worlds (also featured in horse trials and horseshoe hunts) is catchy and sugary.
The one thing I didn't like about this game is MK-A's voice overs, like "You're on the wrong trail" or "you missed a checkpoint" during the cross-country course. Can you say ANNOYING? Another thing is that, while caring for your horse, the rider will say stupid things like, when brushing the tail "someone needs to use some conditioner!" or when cleaning out the stall, "it's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it." I mean, is it really neccesary?
However, these are not trivial problems and if you love horses, you should definately purchase this game! It's great for those rainy days that you can't go out to the barn. Saddle up and I'll see you on the trails!
Everything else, I thought was great. It may seem I hated this game, but i really didn't. Try it out for yourelf! You might like it.
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