The compilation of each Temco and Koei’s successful horse racing franchises, Championship Jockey: G1 Jockey & Gallop Racer is the first western outing for either series since the merger of the two companies. After the official announcement of the game Temco Koei Europe decided to bring it along to the recent London MCM Expo for some hands-on audience participation, and of course Electronic Theatre stopped by the check it out.
Currently in development for each the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii, Championship Jockey: G1 Jockey & Gallop Racer will feature three different control schemes as an inheritance form it’s now united franchises. Both a simulation and arcade style of play will be available on a control pad, but each console also offers motion-control compatibility. In this respect, the Xbox 360 Kinect version remains behind closed doors, but the Wii and PlayStation Move editions are already very playable.
The Wii version was said to suffer by comparison to the PlayStation 3 build not just because of the lower quality of it’s visuals – Championship Jockey: G1 Jockey & Gallop Racer looks goof in high-definition, though is hardly design to push the PlayStation 3’s graphics processor to it’s limit – but also due to the nature of it’s input devices. The PlayStation 3 version utilises two PlayStation Move controllers, whereas the Wii game uses one Wii Remote and a Nunchuk. It may not be too great an issue for those playing only on Wii, but gamers who experienced the PlayStation 3 version noticed the significant improvement in the detection of their gestures.
The simplicity of the gestures in Championship Jockey: G1 Jockey & Gallop Racer is a deceptive representation of the gameplay: easy to grasp though it may be, there’s a lot to learn in order to get the most out of your mount. Rhythmic gestures are the key to success. Holding the two PlayStation Move controllers level as if they were the reigns of around your horse, the player must move them up and down, back and forth in unison. Pulling a single reign allows you to turn corners, and flicking them up together as a meter highlights the correct timing commands a jump when approaching hurdles. That’s enough to get you racing, but correct use of the whip and final straight dash is what’s needed to get you winning.
Prior to beginning any race the player is given the typical options of choosing their horse and the course on which they will run, and the decisions made here are just as important as any on the field. Each horse has a significant amount of information available, from which position within the pack they prefer to run to which surface they perform best on and any number of incidental attributes. Selecting the right horse for the race you are about run is of vital importance when pushing for podium positions, and Electronic Theatre hopes this becomes the case even more so in any career mode that may be included in the final game: with such a stat heavy presentation, it would be a shame if the player wasn’t able to improve each horse with added experience and podium finishes.
Championship Jockey: G1 Jockey & Gallop Racer may not have been the highlight of the London MCM Expo; it may not have been the highlight of Tecmo Koei Europe’s stand in fact, but it’s not a game that is designed to be. Just as with Tecmo Koei Games’ Romance of the Three Kingdoms series, Championship Jockey: G1 Jockey & Gallop Racer has a very specific target audience, and one that will surely be more receptive to its grandiloquent nature than most.