By way of an article in The Hater’s blog over at The Onion’s A.V. Club (Video Gamez For Ladiez), I learned of yet another article about trying to make video games appeal to the fairer sex. These pieces are a dime a dozen and every time I read one, I wonder how come I never read articles about what the movie industry is doing to make chick flicks more palatable to men. Anyway, just for this occasion, I’m finally creating a “Girlie Games” category for this blog and covering another horse riding game, just to further illustrate that there is a niche catering to perceived female gaming tastes. (Other girlie games revolve around fashion and gossip as well as wedding planning.)
Tonight’s game is Time To Ride: Saddles & Stables. Long time readers may recall my last riding game was Let’s Ride: Corral Club. The first essential thing to recognize about this title is the title itself: It’s Time to Ride, whereas, the other title was Let’s Ride. That means that these are 2 different franchises. This means, or at least implies, that the horseback riding genre is successful enough to merit 2 competing franchises with multiple entries. Perhaps that’s as reasonable an indicator as any that there already is some viable market for girlie games.
Saddles & Stables is a pretty game; let’s get that out of the way since I always like to see that no matter what the game:
The game centers around Amanda who moves from the city to the country to live with her father. Daddy promised her a horse but Amanda has to care for it and train it. The game starts with you taking the ponies out for test rides and deciding which to use. Afterwards, you get on with your teenage life, walking around town, talking to people, solving mysteries (yes, the manual hints at the game having a mystery that you may wish to solve). You could make the case that this game borrows elements from the popular Metal Gear Solid series:
Thankfully, the characters are not interested in killing you when that exclamation symbol appears. That only means that the have something plot-advancing to say to you.
All the while this happens, you are expected to be grooming and training your horse. You have access to a variety of status meters to monitor the horse’s current behavior, running skill, and jumping skill, as well as to track the horse’s current needs for food, grooming, or clean living quarters.
Multimedia nerd note: I was ecstatic to see that this game actually uses a video codec called VP3 for its FMV. I wrote the (incomplete) book on VP3. This is really the first time I have seen VP3 files “in the wild”.
- New Girlie Games blog category, games characterized as being specifically targeted for girls in that no male in his right mind (outside of a few, ahem, video game historians) would want to be caught in the same store selling them.
- My second look at this game
- Let’s Ride: Friends Forever, an entry from a competing equestrian gaming franchise