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Stallion Race
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Stallion Race

Release Date:  September, 2013
Publisher:  Proficient City
Developer:  Proficient City
Genre:  Simulator
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Stallion Race is one of the most bizarre games I’ve played in years. It’s really the strange combination of mechanics and theme that gets me — it takes the formula of the standard overdone browser-based MMORPG and slaps a horse racing theme on top. I could hardly believe my eyes the first time I saw that my horse’s status page included over a dozen different stats as well as multiple equipment slots. It’s intriguing to say the least.

Review:

You play a globetrotting horse owner who travels with his stable of animals and host of jockeys to compete in professional horse races the world over. You fund this venture by winning races and gambling on races your horses don’t participate in. It’s a glamorous lifestyle to be sure — the equipment slots for the player character are Car, Yacht, and Aircraft — seriously.

Just about everything from a free-to-play and browser-based MMORPG is here. Loads of regular awards and events that keep you coming back, buildings that generate resources for you over time, innumerable collectible items including tons of fantastic stat-boosting equipment (the Gale Horseshoe, for instance), server-wide chat, an endless supply of quests. My favorite? The ability to improve the gear of my horses and jockeys in four different ways (Fuse, Refine, Enhance, and Synthesize). It’s so ridiculous and complex, I kind of love it just for how ambitious it is.

Your base of operations is on some island, as far as I can tell. Locations around the island will open up as your proceed through the tutorial and win races. You can take legendary stones you find to your Science Center to improve your gear. The animations that play when you pump some Speed Stone into your horse’s saddle would imply that your scientists are, in fact, runic magicians. Soon enough, you’ll be given ownership over some property that earns you gold Just about everything in the game can be upgraded, including your jockeys, horses, gear, properties, and stable. As your stable grows, you can store more and more horses.

The jockeys are great and all, sporting four stats and four equipment slots, but it’s really the horses that shine. Breeding is clearly important to a horse’s natural capabilities and you can view the ancestry chart for each of your horses to determine their parents and grandparents. Around the world, tracks will come in various lengths and terrain types. Horses vary in their Speed, Stamina, Agility, Spurt, and Power in addition to how well they run on Grass, Mud, Soil, and Sand. You’ll need to use up items in your inventory to keep your horse’s State, Hunger, Clean, and Health in tip-top shape. Like jockeys, horses sport four equipment slots. Horseshoes, masks, and the like serve the dual purposes of making your horse pretty and amping up its stats. I desperately wish I was making this up.

There is no shortage of free-to-play, browser-based MMORPGs. Besides the theme, Stallion Race does little to set itself apart from its competition. The gear you find and the characters you meet are all nicely illustrated (and every last person involved in the world of horse racing is sexy, obviously), but the rest of the graphics trend toward the cheesy side. A terrible animation of a clipart plane cruising past some clouds accompanies your every journey to a new country for starters. Follow that up with the races taking place in an ugly pseudo-3D where every horse and jockey looks identical except their coloring. The sound design is poor too, with annoying menu music that loops way too quickly and a piece of racing music that ends before your horse can even see the finish line. The design in general feels lazy and is highlighted by some pretty poor translation, sorry to disappoint those of you who were interested in Stallion Race for the story.

I have no idea who Stallion Race is for. I can’t help but feel that horse racing already narrows the target audience quite a bit, but then they go and make it a pretty complicated RPG on top of that. The kind of gamers who are going to be interested in fusing the best gear, breeding the best horses, and comparing stats are also generally going to be the kind of gamers who would prefer a fantasy or sci-fi theme. Stallion Race might be worth checking out if only to get a chuckle out of how bad it is. Otherwise, I recommend keeping your distance.

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