Horses are supposed to be noble, herd-based creatures with personality and spirit. A simulation of caring for and riding one should be an intricate, rewarding experience as a bond is formed between rider and animal.
Riding Star 3D does not worry itself with any of this. It botches the majesty of the horse so badly that one starts to wonder whether developer TREVA is secretly funded by the glue industry.
The goal of Riding Star 3D is to master several equestrian events to... become the Riding Star, probably? There’s no actual story or characters to interact with here. There’s an in-game “tutorial,” but it shows you nothing more than a set of nine short messages accompanied by an unknown woman’s disembodied head. The whole of Lesson 1 is, “This Tutorial will teach you more about the in-game controls.” Amazing. The digital manual is more helpful, but equally vague on the ultimate purpose of this game.
A horse is button-controlled, with up and down on the Circle Pad/D-Pad switching between different gaits and left and right turning. It feels exactly like one might imagine riding a horse is like, if one imagines horses to be forklifts. In show jumping, the L or R button is used to jump over a gate, with a line before each one signifying when to do so. Dressage, on the other hand, involves copying button sequences to perform canned animations.
Events are divided into different classes, and your horse must reach certain skill levels to open access to the upper echelons. This means training your horse in Speed, Stamina, and Jumping Power. Only one skill can be trained at a time, but the method for each is exactly the same: run a loop and jump the same four or five gates over and over until the horse’s skill number creeps up to where it’s needed. If training for each skill involves the same exercise, why can’t all three skills be improved in one session? There’s absolutely no engagement; no feeling of actually accomplishing anything.
There’s one other element to Riding Star 3D success, and that’s the confidence of the horse. This involves keeping the horse happy and loved by caring for it in its stable. Unfortunately, the horse stands there like a lump and the full breadth of interactivity is rubbing the stylus on it. Petting its coat and cleaning its hooves are all the same, boring rubbing actions. Brushing is, too, but it’s slightly more amusing because the poor 3D effect makes it look like you’re spraying gunk onto the horse rather than making it come off. Aw, does Fury want a drink from the dirt hose?
Riding Star 3D isn’t appealing in either dimension, really; everything looks either blurry, dull, or jaggy. The backgrounds can have a bit of colour, but the seams from where images start and wrap around are plainly visible. The icons and displays are downright hideous, with pixelated art and numbers creeping over the borders surrounding them. Worst of all, the horses are lifeless and don’t seem to have nearly enough frames of animation — what should be a smooth gallop looks like a clunky old children’s ride in front of a supermarket. The music also gets old very, very fast.
Aside from normal show jumping and dressage, there’s a mode where you show jump with your horse, then do the same course on the random horse of a never-seen computer opponent, to see who does it better. There’s also cross-country, which has the same controls as show jumping. Multiple players can also participate in courses both cooperatively and competitively by taking turns; it’s a good way to ensure your friends will never ask you for something fun to do ever again.
Pointless, repetitive, and unrewarding, there’s no discernable reason for Riding Star 3D to exist. It’s not even aesthetically pleasing or interesting enough to justify frittering away a few minutes caring for a pet horse. If you enjoy equestrian events, wait for a better game to come along. This one will never clear the rail.