(3DS)

Game Review

Riding Stables 3D Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

How about a lovely horse?

One genre that absolutely feels underrepresented on the eShop is the pet sim. This is at least somewhat surprising, as the 3DS is not only portable, but it encourages gamers to take it with them everywhere, regardless of whether or not they intend to play anything. It accomplishes this through puzzle and Mii sharing, Play Coins, and an entire library of games with ongoing StreetPass functionality. In short, it's a perfect vessel for the pet sim: your digital pup or kitten (or, uh...dinosaur) can nap in your pocket as you go about your day, and you can check in on it briefly whenever you have time.

Yet, oddly, precious few pet sims have even attempted to find a home on the system, and even fewer are available on the eShop. Enter Riding Stables 3D, which may not quite be the shining example it could have been, but it at least proves that somebody's thinking about potential.

At heart, Riding Stables 3D is a simple enough pet sim. In this case, it's a horse for which you'll be responsible, and you can customise your new pet from a variety of options. In theory at least this is great, but in practice the game's limited graphical capabilities mean that nearly all horses will look alike, colour notwithstanding. It's a shame that there's not more variety — or better graphics to spotlight that variety — but you do at least get some say in what the horse looks like, so it's a decent start.

Where the game really struggles, however, is with its myriad loading times. The icons on the touch screen aren't always as clear as they could be as to what they do, and so when your horse is hungry or tired, for instance, you may find yourself tapping multiple icons in order to locate the appropriate action.

The problem is that about every icon you tap will have a tedious loading time attached to it, during which you'll be taken to an intermission screen that breaks up the interaction with your horse so much that it's pretty much impossible to form any kind of connection with your digital pet. When nearly everything you do interrupts the action for an extended pause away from your animal, it's a lot more like watching a series of unrelated horse videos than it is like caring for an individual pet. When the gameplay is completely centred around tapping icons, and there's nothing to really hope for from the game apart from a bond with your digital horse, this is a big problem.

The controls themselves are at least decent, with a variety of training minigames that are only tangentially related to horse care. You'll be tapping in rhythm and flicking your stylus around the touch screen in order to approximate tricks and games of fetch. It's a bit too simple to be engrossing on its own, but, again, it does at least control well.

Riding Stables 3D really demonstrates potential in two unexpected areas though: the storyline, and the StreetPass features.

It's not that the story is anything revolutionary — and describing it too much here will give away what small twists there are — but it's nice that there's a reason you're caring for this horse, and that the characters with whom you'll interact at the stables have ambitions and agendas of their own. It's a small touch, and one that doesn't encroach on the simple and open approach to the core pet sim experience, but it's nice to see an added level of depth being attempted here.

The StreetPass features see your horse competing against the horses of anyone you pass who owns the game, with the winner receiving unlockable items for use in their own game. It's another simple but effective touch that shines a light on where this genre can go on a console like the 3DS, but like everything else here it feels a bit underdeveloped.

Riding Stables 3D absolutely could have been a worse game, but the frustrating thing is that it could also have been so much better. We're definitely fans of the more interesting gambles this game took, but with the core experience so flawed and bloated with loading screens it's difficult to connect at all to your horse. And without that, there's really no reason to stick around.

Conclusion

Riding Stables 3D definitely has the best of intentions — the StreetPass features, the passively unfolding storyline, and the variety of mini-games — but ultimately it's just not that impressive. The graphics are underwhelming, the sound is aimless and dull, and the frequent load times break any connection you might have otherwise had to your horse. As it stands it feels like the foundation of a much better game, but unfortunately this is the one we got.

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User Comments (26)

SheldonRandoms

#3

SheldonRandoms said:

Untitled

I may like MLP:FIM, but I could tell that this game wasn't gonna be that good, but on the American eShop, the full name of this game is "Riding stables 3d: rivals in the saddle" I didn't know what that last part meant, until I looked at the cover, look at that girl in the background, she looks sorta angry at that girl in the front, looks like that girl in the front did something to make her angry, and she knows it what she did.

Windy

#4

Windy said:

Sega Made this Horse Racing Game/sim years ago called Derby Owners Club which I played at Dave and Busters one Night for 3 hours. It was Excellent and would make an excellent 3DS game. It was Networked up to like 8 units and had this very cool feature where you raced against other players. I would love to see something along those lines with online play. It was an excellent game. As far as I know they still have it. Gosh I think I spent like 40 bucks on that game in 3 hours, but I was hooked

theblackdragonAdmin

#7

theblackdragon said:

@rayword45: Your gracious patience is, as always, much appreciated — however long it takes to give it due consideration, that's what it takes. I'm guessing you won't be picking up this game, then?

rayword45

#8

rayword45 said:

@theblackdragon Likely not :P

I'm just wondering, does anyone know why this took so long to review? My first assumption was nobody wanted to blow $30 on this, but then I saw the review copy.

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#12

Philip_J_Reed said:

I'm just wondering, does anyone know why this took so long to review?

And I'm just wondering, is that anyone's business? Nevermind, I know the answer to that...and so do you. So that's quite enough about it, yes?

I'd be more interested in reading comments of actual substance on the work I do than irrelevant pondering over why it "took too long." Thanks for your understanding.

rayword45

#14

rayword45 said:

@Philip_J_Reed I'm asking a question. Is it so wrong to ponder over something as noticable as that?

I mean, it COULD give details over the way the game works (like Pikmin and the 30-day limit)

theblackdragonAdmin

#15

theblackdragon said:

@rayword45: or it could give details over how Phil's had a full plate of other reviews to do as well, and/or how the publisher could have only given us the review copy quite recently — I have no idea, really. it's been a busy couple of months around here recently, what with the holidays and all.

If we could get back to discussing the review at hand, as Phil has already requested, that would be great. Thanks in advance :3

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#16

Philip_J_Reed said:

I'm asking a question. Is it so wrong to ponder over something as noticable as that?

Nobody said it's wrong...just that it's not relevant and, in all honesty, none of anybody's business. Some games are reviewed within a day, other times within a week, and other times longer. It happens, and I don't feel it's particularly productive to clog up the comments section wondering why...especially if the commenter isn't bringing anything else to the conversation. Thanks in advance for focusing on the reviews and the games themselves.

Barbiegurl777

#18

Barbiegurl777 said:

@Philip

It's a good review. :) I didn't notice the load times when playing about the slow part but go figure. I'm still playing it lol. Has a ton of content in it for a pet game at least I think lol. :)

@Rayword45

I blew 30 on the game in the e-shop. There are some people willing to buy the games if they like them regardless of the price. It depends on how badly a person wants the game or not. The price tag on a game is irrelevent. If you want to play a game then play it as long as you have the cash for the game & can afford it.

Happy Gaming! (^_^)

Windy

#23

Windy said:

@Philip_J_Reed Philip it is indeed another good review chalked up to you! Don't let them get you down :) You do a great job as well as all your colleagues here at Nintendolife. I appreciate all you do here at Nintendolife as at least my daily online reading. I would also bet you don't just have videogames as your only hobby mixed in with real life. Keep up the good work and I thank you and your Friends here at Nintendolife

ramstrong

#24

ramstrong said:

@Windy
Ha, I remember that! I spent way more than $40. I even started breeding them. I forget my horses' name, but I do remember that one of them is called "Sweet Lemon". I was hoping this game is like that, but apparently not enough. Also, the "bloated loading times" turned me off. Sure wish the review mentioned the waiting times in "seconds/milliseconds" unit of time, rather than "bloated".

I'd rather have the reviewer take his time to review the game properly, rather than rush things through and missed something. This review seems good, and the game scored fairly.

Windy

#25

Windy said:

@ramstrong Ive been waiting for a neat Horse Racing/Sim like the one they had at Dave and Busters. Would be awesome for an online community game with online head to head or some sort of online play. There is a Horse racing Sim on PS2 thats pretty good

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