But thanks to an innovative gameplay system, a ton of playability and an adorable story, itâ€™s easily the little â€œhorseaâ€ that could on the 3DS and one of the best games on the handheld this year.
What? That does not make any sense. A horse-racing game with a solitaire engine, is good? No, sorry. It is great. From the first cinematic and your conversation with an angel, youâ€™ll be hooked. And although the game takes a few hours to truly get the ins and outs of, the payoff is a wonderful one. Simply put, this little downloadable title is a game you can easily squeeze 30 plus hours of gameplay on and even more if youâ€™re one of those crazy completionist types.
The easiest way to describe â€œPocket Card Jockeyâ€ is that itâ€™s a horse-racing game that uses solitaire as means of controlling the speed, stamina and energy of your horse. Complete all of the cards on the board and youâ€™ll be rewarded with boosts. Donâ€™t finish and your horse will slow down, lose energy or not listen. Add in boost cards, items and unique abilities for each horse and you have a game that is not nearly as simple as it appears.
One of the reasons for the gameâ€™s difficulty is that it breaks the race into several different parts, where your start, positioning and final stretch run all come into play. Throughout the race, you must manage your energy and positioning and at the same time win your hands in Solitaire. And then thereâ€™s the luck aspect. Sometimes youâ€™ll be in the lead and your horse will be out of position. The bad turn will cause a decrease in stamina and another horse close behind, with more stamina, sneaks in front of you and wins. At other times, though, if you manage your abilities properly, you can be the one to steal a victory.
Because of this, you can fully expect to get pissed off several times while playing â€œPocket Card Jockey.â€ Youâ€™re going to lose, a lot. In both growth and mature mode, if you fail to win three races, youâ€™ll lose your horse and youâ€™ll have to get a new one. This is where the game begins to hurt, your heart. The bond youâ€™ll form with your horses is a quick one and the departure of them is never easy. You may even get to the point where youâ€™ll want to stop playing because of it. In the end, however, the simple gameplay and cute visuals always bring you back, allowing you to create a bond with another animal.
Luckily, there is a breeding option for your older and retired horses as well, which makes things even more sentimental. Seeing the child of your favorite horse do things his parents couldnâ€™t do is an experience not many games can produce and it might be Pocket Card Jockeyâ€™s most redeemable quality.
All in all, with a deep gameplay system, an endearing and cute story and plenty to do, â€œPocket Card Jockeyâ€ is one game you wonâ€™t want to send to the glue factory.
Addictive: Between Breeding, Growth and Mature modes, expect to spend over 30 hours playing this game if you want to capture all of the cups.
Awesome Sound: Game Freak titles always force us to leave the sound on and â€œPocket Card Jockeyâ€ is no exception. Capturing the frenetic action of a race wonderfully, youâ€™ll find yourself moving to the music while you play.
Accessible: â€œPocket Card Jockeyâ€ is easy to jump right into, but takes over a dozen hours to truly get good at. Regardless, itâ€™s a game that you can pick up and play anywhere in short bursts, on the bus or train, or for hours at home.
Get Used to Losing: You will lose many races. You will lose some of your favorite horses. You will piss off horse owners. Itâ€™s just a part of the game. For those that need instant gratification, â€œPocket Card Jockeyâ€ is not the game for you.
No Pause During Races: Itchy nose? Sudden urge to use the bathroom? â€œPocket Card Jockeyâ€ doesnâ€™t stop for no one. It canâ€™t stop, wonâ€™t stop. And if you think youâ€™re slick and close your 3DS during gameplay,youâ€™ll automatically lose the race.
Fantastic gameplay can take you to wild places and whoever was skeptical of this game before playing it will quickly be converted. Funny, fun and frenetic, â€œPocket Card Jockeyâ€ is a charmer that never lets up. Combining elements of â€œPokemon,â€ â€œMonster Rancherâ€ and Solitaire, itâ€™s a game that will steal you away from your next generation console.