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Gallop Racer
Platform:  Playstation
# of Players:  1-2
Developer:  Tecmo
Publisher:  Tecmo
Features:  Dual Shock
Ratings:  Teen
Memory Req.:  
After playing Gallop Racing for a little while I could not help but thinking, "This is just like Monster Rancher with horses." You buy a horse from the shop, train with it, race it, make money, move up in the ranks, and buy better horses. The whole process is very realistic from the way that the horses are categorized to the way they race except for one thing. There is no gambling to be found anywhere in the game. What is horse racing without putting a little bet on the side? I guess they figured that betting on your own horse would be a little unethical especially if you bet against it, but it is definitely an element that makes horse racing fun and is missing from this game.

But lets not look at what this game doesn't have, let's focus on what it does. First of all let's talk horses. 1400+ horses to be exact. The horse shop, though, can only house about 20 so you better get the nice one when you see it. One month you could see you perfect mare and the next month it could be a bunch of dog meat. The secret though is not which animal you buy, but how you race it. And for this the game provides you with all sorts of various information concerning the type of racer that your horse is. Some are better in the long races due to their high level of stamina while some are sprinters. Some like to race in the pack, some hate riding close to other horses. You have to know how and when to whip the beast and how and when to sprint. This is the only racing game where being in first place may not be all that beneficial. If your horse gets winded near the end 1st place can turn into 9th really quickly.

All types of horses means all types of races. The game moves week to week and each week you have the option of entering your horses in specific races. There are many different kinds of races, some are small "Open" races that yield a small sum of points (which take the place of cash) for the winner whereas others are big important races with only the best horses and a huge payload for the winner. If you win enough big races then you will be invited to the invitational where you can really clean up.

The actual horse racing engine runs very smoothly. Just like a jockey you must control the pace of the horse, get on the inside and control the pack around you to get ahead. Then, based on the condition and racing style of your horse, you have to decide whether to take an early lead or to hang back and wait for the right moment to speed ahead. Constantly monitoring all of the factors that go into a horse race from speed to stamina make the game continually interesting. Bumping, moving inside, whipping early and going for the lead among other things force the player to have constant attention at all times. Forget about taking an early lead and coasting. That won't always work in this racing game.

The main fault of the game is the lack of gambling, which I already mentioned. The second problem that I found was the repetitive nature of the game. Though every horse and race are technically different, in the end it is all seems to be the same. The only feature that keeps this fresh is the option to breed young steeds from championship racers when they pass their prime. Other than that it is just racing over and over again with different horses. Of course for some that is not all bad. If you change all of the horses into cars and dirt into gravel you basically have Gran Tourismo, one of the best-selling racing games ever.

The game also has a 2 player mode which instantly changes the game into a party game. Since each race is different and they move so quickly it is the perfect game to pass back and forth through a horse-loving gathering. Plus included is a watch mode if you want to have the feel of going to the racetrack without all of the dirt and bums. And with vibration compatibility you can "feel the action" (although a rumbling controller feels nothing like being on a galloping steed). In the end you will feel like a king when you win and like a louse when you burn out your horse and come in last place. I think the game says it best when it writes, "The winners are put out to stud, the loser are put out to pasture."

Chris Shade

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