What is a pony? I genuinely have no idea. Is it a short horse? Or a breed of horse? I am 26 and I have only just come to the realisation that this is a piece of information I am missing from my brain. All I know about ponies is that there are 3 types of people who truly like ponies. The first is little girls, this seems like a given. The average little girl like ponies and kittens and ballet. “Pink stuff” I refer to it as. The second person to like ponies are the middle England upper class that enjoy watching Crufts and fox-hunting. The final person to enjoy ponies are bronies. To explain what a brony is I should first say, they scare the hell out of me. These are generally guys in the mid twenties who watch My Little Pony cartoons in a supposedly ironic way but then also have an undying love for it. They’re weird, really weird, the kind of weird that leads to a hotel room being filled with photos and red string leading from one face to another.
All of this leads me nicely onto Pony Trails for iOS. A game that will appeal to all of the above miscreants. Pony Trails is a game that has confused me, not just because of my apparent lack of equine knowledge but also because I can’t work out who this game is for or what it’s trying to be. All of its individual concepts are good and work well, but put together this game seems like it doesn’t know who it is aimed for.
Pony Trails sees you as a stable owner who isn’t content with the hobby of riding ponies so they also also put their time into being a photographer. The game starts with you choosing your type of pony or horse, limited to $5000 it turns out horses are expensive. I chose the cheapest nag I could find as I knew the glue investment would pay off at the other end. Once your filly is chosen you select a location and get riding. As much as I know this game wasn’t made for me riding horses in this is real fun. There’s many games I’d describe as “chill out games”; Thomas Was Alone, Mirror’s Edge, Minecraft, and this game is now up there.
Pony Trails is almost like an office stress toy. For 4 minutes you are taken away by your steed onto a trail and take photos of passing wildlife, the game scores you for the quality of photos but this mechanic is a by-product of the serene nature of it all. In your first person perspective you steer the horse down your choice of various forked paths, admiring the views of the coast, mountains and canyons. Gentle western guitar plucks away making you feel like you’re actually there, not in the west or on a mountain but on the set of City Slickers.
Once you have done your peeping tom act on the little furries in the mountains you then return to the stable and the lesson of the game comes, you can’t just have fun in life, you have to work for your fun. Your horse got dirty on the trail so you need to clean it up, much like Nintendogs you need to first soap your four-legged furry car then rinse. The horse seems pleased with his ability to get you to perform its cleaning tasks for him like a slave, but then the real subservience comes. You must pull the stones from its shoes. Again you must use the basic touch screen controls to clean up the horse’s mess.
Pony Trails is good, there is no denying that, but it’s one of those occasions where I struggle to call it a game. It’s an app for chilling out, this is not a bad thing. I may have been flippant in this review but that’s only because there isn’t much here. You have 3 locations to explore, with multiple paths this does add something but then you have the oddities of cleaning your horse and choosing it’s saddle colour. You wont be playing this game 2 months down the line, the incetives of replay aren’t there. The game seems like it’s marketed at little girls, but to me it’s more suited to young adults male or female who just want to try something different and yet familiar.
+First person perspective horse riding is well presented
+Locations and scenery are interesting
+A great example of chill out gaming
-Doesn’t need the horse maintenance sub game
+Music is well-chosen
-No option to lower sound effects and raise music levels