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Gallop Racer 2003

Review By:  Jared Black

 
Developer:  Tecmo
Publisher:  Tecmo
# of Players:  1-2
Genre:  Simulation
ESRB:  Everyone
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card
Date Posted:  6-28-03

While the genre has been wildly successful in Japan for years, horseracing simulations here in America have been few and far between.  Only Tecmo seems to be supporting the genre with any consistency overseas, and that makes Gallop Racer 2003 by default the best horseracing simulation this year.  Luckily for fans of the genre, itís one of the best ones yet.

The heart of the game lies in the Season Mode, which is as in-depth for horseracing as Maddenís is in football.  After creating a jockey, the player will be taken through a short introductory training course to get them familiar with the basics of horseracing.  Once training is complete, the player will then need to acquire a starting horse to race and earn $$$ with.  Once this is done, the season mode plays out much like other sports games.  Horses can be trained to improve their attributes, raced to earn money to purchase upgrades and new horses, and eventually retired to mate and produce new racing offspring.  If a horse has had a good enough career, he/she may even get inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Obviously selecting and training a horse is key to winning races, and to this end each horse has a wide variety of attributes that affect their performance in a race.  These include speed, staying power, stamina, power, temper, heart, and many others.  Additionally, each horse has itís own leg type, which determines whether that horse prefers to lead the pack for most of the race, trail in the back until the end, or fall somewhere in the middle.  Each horse also has a preference as to what kind of track it prefers, whether it is turf or dirt.

As you can no doubt tell, the simulation aspect of raising, breeding, and training horses far overshadows the actual racing part.  Thatís not to say that the actual racing isnít important though, because obviously earning money is the key to building up a winning stable of horses.  Each race is broken up into three basic parts: the start, middle and finish.  Each part requires itís own skills and tactics, and adequate performance in each is required to have a good finish.  If the horse is pushed too hard during the middle stretch, itíll tire out quickly at the end stretch and fall back quickly.  Thus itís a constant battle to push the horse just hard enough, without pushing so hard that the horse breaks down.

Graphically, Gallop Racer 2003 looks good enough for what it is.  The horses all look great, with many different body types and styles.  The menu layout is the typical Tecmo bland kiddy look, with big colored bubbles to navigate through in a variety of bright pastels.  Each racetrack looks pretty good, and while itís all a little dull looking thereís very little PS2 shimmer to deal with in this yearís version.  The weather effects are adequate, with some decent rain and snow.

Soundwise, Gallop Racer 2003 is just slightly above average.  The quiet and peaceful soundtrack actually works well for this kind of game, but it wonít exactly get your pulse racing when you hit the track.  The various horse sounds all sound realistic, as does the crowd.  Nothing to cheer about, but not bad either.

HIGHS:

  • An incredibly deep simulation, with a ton of horses to choose from and a myriad of attributes to consider.
  • The racing requires definite skill in order to be successfulÖjust cracking away with the whip wonít cut it.
  • A peaceful and relaxing game, that still finds enough tense moments in the actual racing.

LOWS:

  • Merely adequate soundtrack and effects.
  • Solid, but underwhelming graphically.

FINAL VERDICT:

Gallop Racer 2003 is a deep horse simulation that will definitely please existing fans of the genre, and perhaps even convert a few new ones as well.  The fact that itís the only game of its type out right now makes it a must-buy for horseracing fans.

Overall Score: 7.6

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