DS Roundup • Page 4

Map-making, zombie-breaking, tank-driving, pony-trapping.

Pony Friends

Look, chances are you, like us, are probably not dead centre of Pony Friends' target demographic of horsey six-year-old girls. But, if part of the reason videogames exist is to give us chance to try new experiences, why shouldn't we have a digital pony to love and cherish and groom under the covers in bed at night?

Right? What?

So it was with open-mind and light-heart that we picked out and named our first pony, Colonel Proust, in this, Eidos' equestrian answer to Nintendogs. Budding genetic engineers will be pleased to know you can tweak almost every part of your pony's appearance, which, if it helps, is a bit like creating car designs in Forza 2, right?

We chose a grey-dappled back, light brown tail, dark chestnut 'socks', a brown star on his nose (giggle etc) and a bright red birthmark on his rump which, while making him look like a bit like a burns victim also ensured he's easy to pick out of a crowded paddock. Colonel Proust shares our birthday and his favourite food is parsnips and he's totally awesome, OK?

Your pony design created (or at least selected from a pony decal randomiser) the business of managing its health, diet, exercise, training and upkeep begins. The package is surprisingly thorough with each element of upkeep shoehorned into a mini-game of some sort. You can enter you ponies onto races, which require you to jolly them along to victory by shouting into the microphone at a specified volume. Mercifully the old DS trick of blowing into the mic at various strengths provides precise control without the acute embarrassment of needing to shout: 'Run, run Colonel Proust! Win this and I'll put a ribbon in your hair!' or something on a crowded commuter train.

There's precious little dignity in being a pet pony.

Riding and racing your ponies makes them tired and dirty so you'll need to pick stones from their hooves and shampoo them down regularly. A happiness stat indicates how well you're treating your charge through feeding them treats, petting them, oiling their hooves and giving them gifts. A Pokmon Snap style minigame, surprisingly accomplished for such a niche title, allows you to photograph wildlife as you travel from location to location and selling these pics earns money to spend in the game's well-stocked shops.

There are even Xbox Live style achievements to ensure you explore all of the game's various avenues - a neat idea in a genre that can quickly become meandering and aimless.

Obviously the game is targeted with a marketing sniper's precision to appeal to a certain type of young girl, but it's well crafted enough to interest a wider, inquisitive audience. However, if you're yet to hit puberty and you'd trade your older brother for a pony in an instant, then you can probably add a gazillion trillion to the score below. Then, when you next play skipping rope in the playground, you can chant in a sing-sing voice: 'A gazillion trillion out of ten, this is better than Halo then.'

6 /10

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About the author

Simon Parkin

Simon Parkin


Simon Parkin is an award-winning writer and journalist from England, a regular contributor to The New Yorker, The Guardian and a variety of other publications.


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