Tecmo Koei has almost single-handedly been feeding horse racing enthusiasts with console games to sate their appetites over the years. The Gallop Racer and G1 Jockey franchises in the UK and US (plus Winning Post in Japan) have made countless successful transitions from console to console over the years, and adapted to suit each new games technology as it arrives. Now, with the advent of the PlayStation Move and Kinect, the two big brands have been combined to make one: Champion Jockey.
Pocket-lint was, therefore, invited to Royal Windsor Racecourse to check out the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the new game (a Wii version is also available), and was more than happy to look foolish in the process. After all, we came home £65 up, having backed the winners of three out of six real races. But that's another story entirely...
Champion Jockey: G1 Jockey & Gallop Racer
What platform is it on?
Xbox 360, PS3, Wii
When's it due out?
2 September 2011
What other game is it like?
G1 Jockey, Gallop Racer
Does it use any new tech like 3D, PlayStation Move or Kinect for Xbox 360?
Yes - it uses each console respective motion controller, Kinect for Xbox 360, PlayStation Move for PS3, and Wiimote for Wii. However, it can also be played with a normal joypad on the former two.
Get back in the saddle for some serious thoroughbred horse racing action!
Champion Jockey: G1 Jockey & Gallop Racer is the spiritual successor of the G1 Jockey and Gallop Racer series, and depicts the horse racing universe through a collection of real world races and immersive and intuitive gameplay with simple controls. Through the use of the latest motion controllers on the market, experience what it feels like to be a jockey!
You start out as a trainee jockey, and must progress through the game, riding in higher and higher class races as you go. The game also features an in-depth management simulation, with horse breeding and training as part of its make-up.
Trailers, demos and video
Our first impressions
We've always been fans of the G1 Jockey games here at Pocket-lint, and the use of the Wiimote with G1 Jockey 2008 definitely added a new layer of fun to what we already thought was an engrossing, involving simulation series. Clearly developer Koei was happy with the new input format too, as it's utilised its experience with the Wii to bring motion controls to the PS3 and Xbox 360 too.
Champion Jockey is also the first in the company's long pedigree of horse racing titles to hit the Microsoft console, so it was that specific version that we made a beeline for.
It was also, mercifully, the easiest to get to grips with as there was no physical controller to, er, grip. The Kinect is a great control method if you have the room for it, and there was plenty in a VIP tent near the parade paddock at Windsor races, we were just hoping that no real jockeys were peering in.
As a mighty, in-depth simulation, with plenty of options and clickable buttons on each page, unfortunately Champion Jockey cannot be played simply with the Kinect alone. There's little use for menu motions here, so an in-reach joypad is a must. However, once you get into the game, you'll find plenty of jiggling about to satisfy even those who've drunk a few too many Red Bulls.
Miming the pulling of reins controls the speed of the horse during a race, putting your arms down then bringing them up will leap over a fence (if timed correctly), and slapping the air next to your thigh, like a poor 1990s disco dancer, will use the whip for that last burst of acceleration. There are other moves, such as arm motions to move left or right, but after two races we had such a dab on that we needed a good sit down.
If nothing else, it's a great keep fit game for those that avoid lycra like the plague.
That said, it's highly pleasing to note that you never have to bang about, jump off the floor, or cause any of the noise and havok that might annoy those in a lower flat (for example). Indeed, a little birdy told me that it could even be played sitting down, with no impact on the gameplay. But Microsoft doesn't want Kinect owners to know that, so forget we said anything.
Graphically, there's not much difference, to our eyes, between Champion Jockey and its more recent predecessors, at least in the horses and jockeys themselves. The racecourses have been improved, however, with tracks from Japan, Europe and the US all featuring distinguishing graphical flourishes. Steeplechases are also new.
And, for the first time, online multiplayer has been included this time around, with up to four people being able to race against each other remotely.
From our quick play, Champion Jockey is a must for horse racing fans, and makes a very welcome debut on the Xbox 360.
Although the version we played and saw was the review code, we only had time to play a couple of quick races - enough to get a feel for both jump and flat racing. And we also only played the Xbox 360 version of the game, using a Kinect.
So, with that in mind we present you with our Quick Play.
What we've done is broken down the key facts you need to know and then given you our first impressions based on around 15 minutes of gaming. For us, that 15 minutes isn't enough to do a First Look review, and especially not a review. How can you rate a game that offers over 30 hours of gaming based on just 15 minutes of play? However, it should hopefully give you an idea, a feeling, a notion of what to expect come launch day.