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G1 Jockey Wii Review

More of an "also ran" than a Grand National winner

Theoretically at least, the Wii was made for games like G1 Jockey. Imagine all the possibilities you could create by combining the sport of horse racing with the Wii Remote; driving the reins to spur your horse on, cracking the whip as you race round the track, yanking back to lift your steed over fences and so on. Done properly, it'd be downright awesome, so it's a shame that G1 Jockey Wii, despite doing all those things and more, turns out to be so tame.

A Day At The Races

The game certainly has tons going for it,

if you're a fan of horse racing, that is. It's unbelievably deep in its simulation of the sport and offers players the chance to not only become a champion jockey, but also breed their own horses and generally do everything a real jockey would do over the course of their career.

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The controls, too, actually work really well and have been integrated into the game in a way that demands constant practice in order to truly master them. And believe us, you'll need to do just that if you want to win races on a regular basis because the difficulty curve is steep from the get-go. Between incurring steward's enquiries for 'interfering' with rival horses and trying to maintain a healthy balance between your horse's stamina, motivation and potential during each race, it's all pretty tough.

Unfortunately, there's a slight snag though. All of the game's potential has been buried under a mountain of text conversations, overly-complex stat screens that give far too much information in an entirely unhelpful manner and, worst of all, visuals that are clearly ported from the PS2 version of the game.

The in-game interaction with characters, while annoying, can begrudgingly be forgiven because it's meant to be a simulation, but there's no excuse for the bad graphics, especially since this is a 'new' game for a new console.

As for the racing action itself, it all feels so slow and plodding, even though you're meant to be on a racehorse. There's noreal feeling of excitement during the races, even when you're sprinting up the track after your rivals and ultimately, it drags the whole game down.

It's a shame, because G1 Jockey is undoubtedly a highly comprehensive horse-racing experience that, would be enjoyed by the right audience. If the whole package was injected with a bit more pizzazz, Koei might have gotten away with it.


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  1. MickG Tuesday 11th May 2010 at 14:08

    G1 Jockey is a really good game that fans of horse racing will enjoy!
    I've had it for nearly 3 years and am still coming back to it fairly regularly for my racing fix!
    The above review does warn the potential buyer of the game's obvious limitations and failures, including its 'tameness'. The distinct lack of atmosphere at races, i.e. the absence of in-view grandstands and crowd noise does tend to make each race feel like a very low-key affair at Plumpton on a rainy day.
    The ‘G’ races, equivalent to a ‘Group 1, 2 or 3’ race does have more noticeable effects and noise, but the fanfare is definitely missing from this game.
    However, once this, and the repetitive music is glossed over (as it really should when you’re focussing on gameplay) there’s some quality gaming to be experienced.
    Far from being difficult (as the reviewer suggested), this game can be mastered by anyone on the first 2 (out of 3) skill levels, pretty quickly at that. You can come back weeks later and hardly struggle to remember the few moves. If anything, my criticism is that winning is TOO easy! Your horse, whether the favourite or not, is apparently the best horse in the race, making your chances of a really horrendous result very slim!
    On these levels, racing can be simply too dull for some – keep a steady pace, drive hard with a sensible distance left, use the whip to encourage extra motivation and change lead leg in the final furlongs. If it wasn’t for jump racing and the varying distances, most players would give the game a miss pretty soon after they’ve managed to go unbeaten for a few races.
    Being now a quite experienced player of this game, I feel the ‘slow and plodding’ accusation is quite unfair. Much like trading your FIFA games for ISS Pro/Pro evo games, the speed of play is relative to the action on-screen. True, you don’t feel like it captures the speed of racing a horse, but then does every F1 game truly capture the sensation and velocity of corners taken at over 100 mph? I doubt it!
    The truth is, if you try to defy the game and its physics, you’re not going to get very far. One horse will want to be a leader, which means trying to stay ahead without burning out before the final furlong, while another wants to come from the back of the field with a final spurt of immense speed, which means not being too far off the pace, avoiding getting boxed in by other horses and missing opportunities to move into a decent gap in the field. But you don’t really need to pay too much attention to these horse traits! Sensible riding and timing will generally suffice, until the ‘G’ races, where you do need to match your riding style to the horse in question. A satisfying delineation between the high-grade races and the rest!
    It IS niche – but there is no way (to my mind) that it can be argued the game is anything like too complicated to play! Maybe the top skill level will catch you out more often than not – timing the starts is very difficult, the window of opportunity for jumping fences is much smaller (as it should be) and your horse isn’t going to repeatedly get you out of trouble in the last few furlongs if you’ve given it too much to do.
    I feel this game could have attracted a huge audience if the fanfare was present and correct, as the controls are excellent, the learning curve is pretty much spot-on and it has great depth. Old and young would have fun with this, as it’s possible to ‘live the dream’ of a champion jockey without having to remember to do a million and one things.
    Lack of pizzazz is a fair assessment, but you can create your own atmosphere, as you do with every other game anyway!
    Winning your first G race, being invited to become the regular jockey for a horse you rode well (normally to victory), creating and naming your own horse, then training it in its early stages, stealing wins in the final few strides, or holding on to 1st place by a whisker on an outsider, to winning top amateur then top professional jockey awards – all great moments that means this game will always be a champion in my eyes!

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