Hands up, who wants their very own Pony?
This game is developed by Tantalus Media and published by Eidos. Pony Friends 2 is available on the Wii, PC and DS.
Upon starting the game, the player will first have to choose a Pony. There are 14 different breeds to choose from, although at the beginning of the game only a couple will be available. Once a Pony has been bought and named, the game will then take you through a tutorial that will explain everything you need to know. You will then return to the main menu and your Pony adventure will begin.
From the main menu, there are three different areas to visit. Home is where you can track your progress, do chores for coins or view your photographs and accessories. At the stable you will be able to care for your Pony, go out riding or accessorise your four legged friend. Finally there is the town. Visit the town in order to see the vet, go shopping for accessories or a new Pony, or attempt some of the challenges at the Pony club. These challenges can be as simple as a race, or as complex as entering a trick competition.
There are five different regions for you to ride your Pony in. These regions are split into different trails. Whilst you are out riding, you are encouraged to stop and take photos of any wildlife that you encounter. There are more than 50 different animals to take pictures of. The more you go riding, the more riding skill points you will earn. These allow you to unlock new areas to take your Pony through.
Riding is a fairly straightforward affair. Whether you are riding through the countryside or competing in a race, the controls are the same. Simply hold the Z button and the B button then flick the wiimote and nunchuk as if you were riding for real. The Pony will then start moving. Steering is simply a matter of lifting either of the controls by themselves, causing the Pony to turn. If you want to stop, simply release the buttons. As you approach an obstacle on your route, a jump symbol will appear on screen. As soon as it appears, flick the remotes up to make your Pony jump over the obstacle.
Caring for a Pony is a big responsibility (as I can hear parents saying all around the world) and Pony Friends 2 takes this very seriously. All sorts of nasty things can happen to your Pony if it is not cared for properly. After you have been out for a ride, or racing in a competition etc., there are a number of things that you must remember, for your Ponies sake. Firstly is grooming, make sure you use the correct brush for each area of your Pony, and please brush carefully, you don’t want to upset it, do you? Next up is washing. Apply the shampoo, rinse, apply conditioner and rinse again. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, is hoof care. Use the tool to remove any stones from your Ponies hoof. This is important for two reasons. The first is that if the stones are not removed, the hoof may get infected (but do not worry, a trip to the vet will provide some ointment to be applied to the hoof and clear up the infection). Secondly, sometimes your Pony may get something valuable caught in its hoof. These can be collected up for money. Without the care it needs, your Pony will become ill. You can also head into the field and give your Pony some attention to keep it happy. Stroke the Pony and try to find its favorite petting place or feed the Pony some food and treats.
Like a slightly odd episode of “Pimp My Ride”, you will be able to accessorise your pony in a number of different ways, only without the help of Westwood (he would probably scare the ponies in my opinion). Now I don’t know enough about horses and the like to use all of the proper terminology, so bear with me. You will be able to change the horses blanket(the one that goes under the saddle) and even create your own design, if you choose. The saddle and reigns (is it a bridle…I am not sure) can also be changed to colours that more suit your style. You can also adorn your pony with a picture on its hind quarters (the name of this escapes me completely) and items that can be placed in its mane, aswell as different styles for the mane. Finally it is possible to kit your pony out with some nice custom shoes (Gold rims, anyone?). This is a great wya to express your creativity within the game and, given that you can ride with friends, allows your pony to take on its own personality.
A lot of people are, at the moment, playing their way through games like Modern Warfare 2 or Assassins Creed 2. Well, they can go back to their guns and bloodshed. This game is not for them. This is for the more delicate, and perhaps younger gamers out there. Pony Friends 2 has a slow and relaxed pace that will suit the more leisurely gamer. The graphics are colourful and look good on the Wii. The controls are a nice combination of buttons and using the Wii’s motion detection to create an interactive experience that makes sense. The background music is calm and relaxing. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of gamers out there who will have less than no interest in this game, and that’s fine. This game is aimed at a selective audience, the gamers who have enjoyed the past title, gamers who like virtual pet games and gamers who love the idea of owning a Pony, without bankrupting their parents. These are the gamers for whom I shall score this game.
For lovers of Ponies everywhere, this game will be a dream come true. If you have a young daughter, buy this game, it will save you a fortune.