G1 Jockey Wii Wii Review
This is a weird one. You see, regardless of how high in quality G1 Jockey is, not many people are going to buy it. Hell, even if it was the number one rated jockey game in the world, and a sticker emblazoned on the front of the game stated that fact, not many people would care. In fact, I will goes as far to admit that even if I knew all of the above, and saw this game sitting pretty in the Wii section of my local store I would not even give the game a second look. Thankfully, due to me writing this review for this friendly part of the internet, I was able to get my hands on this game at no cost to myself. And, as a result, found the game rather appealing, but unfortunately, there are also some problems to talk about.
However, let’s be nice and try and paint the game in a good light first, as it hardly a terrible game. The games biggest draw, without doubt, is that it sets out to give those that play a very in-depth take on what it is to be a jockey. So deep, that for the first hour of the game, and for the first half dozen or so races, you will most likely have no idea what you are doing, or what you are even supposed to do. Thankfully, the game is aware of its immense depth and it does not just throw the player in at the deep end. From the outset your young and inexperienced jockey is enrolled in jockey academy to be taught the basics of his new trade. In here, the game teaches you all of the particulars you need to ride your steed to the best of its ability.
In there you will learn that as a Jockey there are four main things to look out for when racing. These are the personality, stamina, motivation and potential of the horse you are currently riding. For example, if you jumped in to your first race and started to play the game like an everyday racer your horse’s stamina would drain before you got half way round the track, thus letting the whole field pass you by. However, should you try your next race and stay too far back in the field to keep your stamina high, your horse may then lose some of its motivation which would lead to your potential bar not filling, which will give you no final burst of speed for the last straight, which also leads to possibly losing the race. Of course, then there is always the option that you might have a horse with a personality that likes to stay near the back of the field and then it would be a good idea to stay there as you’ll have a full potential meter come the last turn.
On top of that there is the Wii controls, the game’s only change from the PS2 version, to get to grips with. The Nunchuck offers most of the movement options, letting you lean it forward to speed up and tilt it back to slow down. You can then use the “C” button to aid in going around corners and “Z” to give the horse a final push at the finish line which could result in you “winning by a nose.” The Wiimote only plays a small part in the game as it used to mimic a whip. At the start the controls all seem a bit complicated, but just like every other facet of the game once you play a few races you will start to get the basic idea and win, or place highly, in a few races.
However, that is not even half of the game, there is also a whole section to play outside of the races, and as you’d expect this section is also about as deep as Barry Whites voice. When not racing you can be part of a stable where, if you are a top-notch jockey, with loads of wins under the belt of your tiny five foot frame, you can pick and choose from certain horses to ride. Also, just like many other racing games, the more you play the more money you win, and the better, more lucrative races you can partake in. However, there is even more depth to the game than even this, as after a few hours, just as I was getting into the ebb and flow of what was happening, the game offered me the chance to breed and name my very own horse. The breading in the game works very much like it does in the Pokémon games as you are presented two different horses, with many different types and styles available, and it is up to you to pick the two that have the attributes you want the offspring to inherit. From there the offspring can then be trained, via a selection of mini-games, to develop a selection of its 20 different attributes to make it the best it can be. Then, when done, you can race it and hopefully become a top champion and crucially end up getting attached to your new horse and end up playing more and more.
However, not all is rosy for the game and regretfully, when all is said and done, the Wii edition of G1 Jockey has two fatal flaws and when you couple them together it delivers a blow to the game which results in it being much less than it could have been. Number one: it was originally a PS2 game, a game first released back in early 2006 and the only extra added for the game’s Wii release is the basic Wii controls when riding your horse. Then there’s number two: the game’s basic menu layout, which is just plain confusing and on top of that looks like some budget release back in the days of the N64. All in all, you get the feeling that Koei did the as little work as possible to bring this game over to Wii in the hope of reaping some rewards from those that would buy it, perhaps for the second time. Also, what makes this lacklustre release even worse is that fans of the game, no matter how niche it may be, would have loved a worthwhile update as the title has absolutely no competition out there, at least that I know of and fans of the genre have nothing else to get their horse racing fix from.
Due to this being my introduction to the G1 series I will say that I was presently surprised by what was on show in G1 Jockey and, for what it is, it is an exciting game to play. However, due to the lack of Wii content and simply due to the title being so niche that it struggles to appeal to even the most available of the untapped markets it is very hard recommend this to most readers. I suppose, at the very least, we should be happy Koei have offered Wii owners something another than a mini-game compilation, we are all a bit sick of those to be honest. They could have done a whole lot more though.
It’s good, but wait for a price drop, or get the PS2 version.