Champion Jockey: G1 Jockey & Gallop Racer

I like racing games, always have done, but I never expected a racing game to feature Animals instead of cars.  I was even less aware of the chance of these animals being perfectly proportioned horses with proper jockeys and not a hint of big heads or weapons in sight.  I was aware of there being a popularity of horse racing games in Japan but I never expected it to come to these shores. Shows you how much I know!  Here I was, reviewing a horse racing game, something I never expected, and so far, no puns in sight.  This couldn’t actually be any good, could it?

As you may have noticed, the game has a big long title; it’s the next in line of a well known series of G1 Jockey games. Well known to some, that is.  Being my first foray into horse racing games, I approached it with a little doubt in my mind but I was open to it being good.  Sadly I made the worst mistake on my first play, I chose to use the controller, completely ignoring the fact that the game is Kinect enabled.  Thinking I knew better I jumped straight into  the fun race mode expecting it all to be an easy ride to the finish line.  I was wrong.  I hadn’t a clue about the controls and my frantic button pressing didn’t make the race any clearer.  After losing horrendously, I decided to start on the story mode in hope of learning how to play. That was the first good decision I made.  The story mode starts you as a rookie jockey and teaches you, through a series of tutorials, how to ride your horse properly and hopefully win races.  As you try out each lesson it all starts to become clear and very soon you’ll be winning races on the easy setting without too much trouble.  Once you have passed all the tutorials you then start racing in the big leagues where you can negotiate rides to earn Racing Points which will level up your character.  As you level up you’ll be able to ride better performing horses, giving you a better chance of continued success.  It’s here, though, that I found things a little hard going.

Story mode features lots of written dialogue that you can either read or skip with the “A” button.  I found myself sometimes having to press the button 20-30 times to get to the next section or race, it does become a little tedious and affects the flow of the game.  When you are choosing horses you are bombarded with loads of stats and figures about the horse’s form and preferences. I must confess to ignoring the vast majority and just choosing the best overall stat, which seemed to work in my favour.  There are various settings for the riding style: standard, pro and custom offer varying levels of user control over the horses with pro offering full player control and standard assisting you.  With the game on easy and ride style set to standard, I found it enjoyable to race without having to worry too much and found it easy to win.

The racing itself is actually very good when you get the hang of it. After a timed button press to get you off the mark you have to adjust your speed and position to keep your horse in the best standing as you can.  Stamina can wear away if you go too fast, so you have to judge when to apply speed or hold back. If the stamina falls away you can whip your horse to get some speed, but this is best kept until near the end.  What you then have to do is balance your ride, keeping you in the pack and readying yourself for a final burst to the finish line.  If you ride a good race your horses potential will be good and this will then trigger a revolution meter which boosts your horse into a zone of speed and form. I found this difficult to attain, but it did happen.

The visuals of the race are adequate and verge towards a style often associated with sports arcade games, without the OTT voice over.  Not exactly Next Gen visuals but suitably pleasing to look at.  Online modes are also included, via a champion code which comes with the game, but you’ll have to buy a new code if you buy pre-owned.  Sadly, the online only supports four players, which seems like a missed opportunity but it keeps it moving along.

You may remember I mentioned that the game is Kinect enabled; this may be the saving grace.  With the controller, races seemed quite shallow and over very quickly. They are no longer in time using Kinect but they are oh so much more immersive.  Standing like a loon in front of the telly you ride your invisible horse by holding your hands out as if  holding reins.  Then making a galloping gesture with your hands, the horses start running. Brilliant. Pull back on either hand to steer and do a wee jump to go over fences in steeplechase courses.  The fun factor is so much higher using Kinect and is the definitive way to play the game.  Alas you still have to use a controller to navigate menus which is a slight oversight, but not a game breaker.







Leave a Reply