Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Championship Jockey: G1 Jockey and Gallop Racer

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Rating: 4.9/5 (13 votes cast)

The latest release from Tecmo Koei Europe throws quite a contrast to their previous releases on the current-generation consoles. Prolific purveyors of the 3D scrolling beat-‘em-up games, Tecmo Koei Europe are responsible for a great deal of the combat-action games currently available for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii and Nintendo 3DS, and with Dynasty Warriors Next and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, the team are already gearing-up to take the same ground with the next generation of consoles. With that, to suggest that Championship Jockey: G1 Jockey and Gallop Racer is a step aside for the publisher wouldn’t be too unreasonable a statement. However, it’s certainly not a bad step to have taken.

Championship Jockey: G1 Jockey and Gallop Racer is available now for three formats – Wii, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 – each of which offers both a basic control set-up and the option to utilise the additional control devices presented by the consoles. The Wii version allows gamers to use the Wii Balance Board, the PlayStation Move controllers can be used on PlayStation 3 and here on Xbox 360, gamers so inclined can play by way of the Kinect device. The control schemes are simplified somewhat for each motion control device, with less demands being placed upon the player than is the case when simply using the control pad, however the translation of the on-screen action into play input remains remarkable whichever control method you opt for.

The game provides a wide variety of gameplay modes, including exhibition races and online competition, though the best place to start is surely the single-player Story Mode. Before beginning the Story Mode the player must sit through a series of uninspiring, tedious menus. Difficulty setting and name input are predictable, but having to select your stable partner from those listed with a series of stats that make no sense at this point, selecting your jersey colours and riding style could well have been offered to the player once a race had actually been played, or at least as an option rather than a requirement. This situation becomes somewhat ludicrous when some of the options are repeated before even your first race, still unaware of what some of the labels actually mean. Thankfully, things tidy themselves up considerably once the game has actually been started.

Two years after joining a stable with the hope of becoming a jockey, the player joins the story at the point of qualification for a racing licence. The game starts gently, with a short race designed by friendly rivalry, teaching you each of the many controls and the function of each in both the long- and short-term. Using your whip too early can devastate your horse’s momentum, and using it too late can lead to a missed opportunity: just one example of how players need to take note of the lessons taught, and the need to implement them accurately.

The implementation of the motivation techniques for your horses mid-race is complicated further with the realisation that no two horses are the same. Each horse has it’s preferred racing style – from running position to pace to it’s chosen sprint timing – and learning the way to push each horse to the limit while keeping the motivation high is key to success.

The Story Mode sees you playing through seasons, taking on new races and arranging mounts with horse owners, climbing your way up the rankings and receiving increasingly valuable rewards. Other modes are more of a one-shot affair, with both friendly and competitive multiplayer modes available. Once having activated your “Champion Code”, effectively your online pass, players can compete in races against other live opponents for Jockey Points. The Jockey Points are actually worth little other than bragging rights, though it is a welcome chart of success online that differs from the increasingly common XP and level system.

Championship Jockey: G1 Jockey and Gallop Racer isn’t exactly a stunning looking game, with bland textures for much of its terrain and still images propping up the story. However it’s never less than comfortable: the environment, the horses, the jockeys and the menu systems are all delivered without visible blemishes or obvious flaws. It’s not about to set the world on fire, but Championship Jockey: G1 Jockey and Gallop Racer’s presentation is perfectly apt for it’s subject matter – a trend that could easily be accredited to much of the game.

As a break from the norm for Tecmo Koei Europe, Championship Jockey: G1 Jockey and Gallop Racer widens the publisher’s horizons and yet feels wholly familiar. It’s a game that is founded on years of experience and delivers the best-in-field gameplay, and yet it’s also a game that is unlikely to ruffle any feathers. Championship Jockey: G1 Jockey and Gallop Racer can be taken as a game offering limited social entertainment, placed alongside the likes of Wii Sports or Mario Kart Wii, but it could just as easily be considered an essential purchase for those keenly invested in the game’s source material. The final leg of Championship Jockey: G1 Jockey and Gallop Racer’s potential audience – and most likely to be the core gamer reading this review – those simply looking for an alternative gameplay experience to the modern arrangement of first-person shooters and racing games could not find a more interesting prospect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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