You don’t know what vulnerable is until, in a roomful of people, you have stood perched bow-leggedly atop a Wii balance board, shaking the Nunchuk like a maraca while whipping a pretend horse’s backside on a television screen. It would be slightly less embarrassing to play a DS game powered by nakedness. On the train. G1 Jockey is a cringe-worthy game to play for sure, but due to its strangely compelling nature, it joins such things as members of the opposite sex in the category entitled ‘things worth humiliating yourself for’.
The difference this year, of course, is the balance board – but board compatibility aside, spotting the differences between this and G1 Jockey ’07 is a task worthy of inclusion in a Puzzler mag. The controls remain largely the same, with or without the balance board. You use the Nunchuk as your reins, flailing your left arm up and down in time with your beast of burden, hopefully without knackering it before the final furlong. From here, you must whip it within an inch of its life with the remote to coax it to the finish line. It might feel like random thrashing at first, but there’s real skill in conserving your energy for a big finish.
When engaging what we like to call ‘the Mother Board’, the above controls remain the same, except you have to lean left or right to steer your hoss around the track. Pick the more complicated of the two balance-friendly control systems and you’ll also find yourself leaning back to pull your horse up and straightening your legs to jump. The latter of these new-fangled control systems barely works, to be honest (stand on the left-hand side of the board, stomp on it, drop a house on it – your horse is as likely to veer off into the weeds as it is to turn the corner) but if you’re prepared to put up with a slight drop in accuracy and a slight rise in blood pressure, you’ll find it to be a fun novelty, at least for a while.
But the real charm of G1 Jockey is in the depth: hundreds of horses (each packed to the manes with stats), the overblown plots, the relentless resource management of your horse, the hypnotic clip-clop of horse’s hooves – it shouldn’t be much of a game, but there’s something eerily compulsive about it that, like Black Beauty’s secret contempt for humans, can’t be put into words. But if you already have G1 ’07, don’t go upgrading solely for the balance board’s sake.
Oct 6, 2008