“ Mary King's Riding Star is a fully interactive equestrian simulation. Compete against friends, or the computer in your quest to become World Champion. Along the way your horse will need feeding and careful grooming in order to gain maximum points. You will experience superb graphics and realistic commentary in all aspects of competition, which includes, dressage, cross country, showjumping and a complete three day event. „
This game arrived in around 2002, and so as you can imagine it is a little out of date by current computor tech standards. However it is relatively cheap and happens to be suited to a much younger audience, perhaps 6-11 year olds. It is very simple and easy to use and is therefore suitable for this age group.
The imagery is not fantastic, and I find that games from other equestrian celebrities, notably Pippa Funnel are much more advanced and engaging. The two jumping phases, cross country and show jumping are really very simplistic, and controlling the character from a birds-eye view is not easy. Moreover, there is no aspect of it that gives any realistic experience. I also find that the younger users get frustrated and bored with the 'look after your own horse' part of the game.
Overall, if you want a realistic experience, go for equestriad (a little dated, but very good) or a better quality game with a plot one of Pippa Funnel's 3 adventure games.
I’ve had this game now for years and only just realised that I’ve not written an opinion about it! So, I thought I’d rectify the problem…. As you may have already gathered, ‘Mary King’s Riding Star’ is about horse riding. And, as you may have already guessed, I’m into horses! I am biased therefore then aren’t I. I’m bound to like this game! ------------------------------ ~ System requirements ~ ------------------------------ ~ Minimum requirements: Pentium 100Mhz or better 16Mb RAM Windows 95 or 98 CD-ROM Drive Soundcard Keyboard and Mouse 110Mb of hard disk space 2Mb SVGA video card supporting DirectDraw capable of displaying a resolution of 320x240x16 bit colour DirectX 6 (but this is supplied with the game to download if you need it) ~ Recommended: Pentium 166Mhz or better 32Mb RAM 210Mb of hard disk space 4Mb SVGA video card supporting DirectDraw capable of displaying a resolution of 640x480x16 bit colour (You can also get this game for Playstation) The synopsis of the game reads: “Mary King’s Riding Star is a fully interactive equestrian simulation. Compete against friends, or the computer in your quest to become World Champion. Along the way your horse will need feeding and careful grooming in order to gain maximum points. You will experience superb graphics and realistic commentary in all aspects of competition, which includes, dressage, cross-country, show jumping and a complete three day event.” The game is supposed to be suitable for people aged 3-10, 11-14, 15-17 and 18+. It then later says suitable for ages 7+. So, what is the game actually like? Well in general the synopsis does actually describe the game pretty well. There’s just two faults I have with the above synopsis. Fa
ult 1: “fully interactive” – it is interactive, but not *fully*. I’ll go into this later. Fault 2: “realistic commentary” – yes, except for when you’ve been playing for a long time. Repetition comes into play and there is only so many “the arena is looking picture perfect” I can take in one day! In general the game comprises of you, the main character, who just so happens to be called Sarah. You have your own horse called Star. You are responsible for the care of Star (unlike the cyber pet style games though, Star will never die!). You have to feed, water and groom him on a regular basis to keep him healthy. You are also responsible for mucking out his stable. On the right hand side of the screen while in the ‘stable block’ area there is an information board which has a health, grooming, feeding and watering levels chart. You can therefore tell when and what Star needs to keep him in pristine condition. In the stable block area you have a water trough to fill up his bucket, his stable and the tack room. To move Star around you click on him, sorry, pat him(!) and then click wherever you want him to go. This is where the “fully interactive” bit comes under problems. You can’t just move him where you like. He can only stand in one spot in the courtyard and can only be moved into his stable and into the field. To go into the tack room you have to click on the door. In the tack room you’ll find a feed bucket, the saddle hanging on the saddle rack, shovel/broom/pitch fork and the grooming kit inside a drawer. Each of the above items can be clicked. On clicking them they are placed in the items panel on the right hand side of the screen. You can only have one item at a time in the item box. ~ Mucking out ~ To do this you first have to have Star standing in the courtyard. Next you need to pick up the
shovel/broom/fork from the tack room. On entering the stable the cursor changes to a broom. You hold down the left mouse button and move the cursor around. When you unclick the cursor changes to a shovel. You can then remove the dirty straw. (Where it goes though I’m not entirely sure, it just disappears into thin air (if only that happened in real life!)) You can then click the ‘Continue’ button (right hand side panel) to select the pitch fork. You lay down fresh straw ready for Star again. ~ Grooming ~ You find the grooming equipment in the top left hand draw in the tack room. You have to have Star standing in the courtyard to groom him. The cursor changes to a brush when placed over Star. After moving the brush over his surface you click continue to change brush types. You go through a series of brushes (including mane and tail comb) and then finish off with hoof oil. ~ Tacking up ~ Again, Star must be stood in the courtyard. You collect the saddle and bridle from the tack room and simply click on his back. The saddle and bridle magically appear on his head and back! You are then ready to compete. ------------------------------------ ~ Single player competition ~ ------------------------------------ Some events are single day events, others are three day events. You start at level 1 (as you’d expect!) and each time you have to compete in dressage, cross-country and show jumping. ---------------- ~ Dressage ~ ---------------- This involves you following the on screen instructions. You are told what to do and when to do it. There is a clock running in the info panel and it also shows you your current score and next move. You are led to an arena where you’ll find coloured dots on the ‘sand’. You follow the coloured dots as closely as possible and do each action in the specified region on screen to gain m
aximum marks. You are expected to walk, trot, canter and do simple manoeuvres (10m circles, half circles, etc) nothing technical. You are marked on: ~ How close you stay to the purple dots on screen, ~ how close to the marker (in the blue dotted region) you change gait, ~ how well you judge your speed around the arena, ~ how well groomed and healthy Star is. ---------------------- ~ Cross country ~ ---------------------- You are expected to jump a course of cross-country jumps in the ‘optimum time’ (you get time penalties otherwise). To help you along the way you have to jump them with the red flag on the right and the white flag on the left. You can walk, trot, canter or gallop in this event. Scoring works as follows: ~ 120 penalty points for each fall (disqualified on second fall), ~ the first refusal at any jump is worth 40 penalty points, he next is worth 80 points, ~ if you have 3 refusals at the same jump you or have 5 refusals overall you are disqualified. There is an energy bar on the left hand side. If the bar is showing green Star has enough energy to gallop (this soon declines), in the amber region he can canter (usually he can canter the whole course easily) but in the red region (e.g. if you keep missing a jump and needing to go back) he loses energy and can only trot. ---------------------- ~ Show jumping ~ ---------------------- Again you have an optimum time showing in the panel on the right hand side of the screen. You have to get Star around (following dots again) the course. You are penalised for: ~ Refusals, ~ 1 penalty point per second over the optimum time, ~ You are disqualified if you go outside the boundaries in this or ANY of the events. -------------------- ~ Whoooa boy ~ -------------------- “Where’s the brakes on this thing???” can us
ually be heard in and around riding schools. So, just in case you ever find yourself playing this game, the controls are as follows: Up arrow – increases his speed, Down arrow – go on, take a wild guess!, Left arrow – oh these are difficult aren’t they! Right arrow – tricky on this, Space bar – makes Star jump and to salute the judges in dressage. ------------------------- ~ Sarah’s main tip ~ ------------------------- As well as the interactive area (i.e. the bit when you look after Star and compete) there is also a ‘single player mode’. Before you even attempt to compete ‘for real’ you should have practiced like mad in this mode. You can choose what colour horse you want (choice of ten)* and whether you want to have a go at dressage, cross country or show jumping (or all three) and at what level (10 levels all in all). *(according to the box there are ‘hidden super attribute horses’ – personally I’ve never found these before!) You can practice under normal mode or trainer mode (training is easier as you aren’t disqualified for going outside the boundaries). You can go straight to level 10 if you think your hard enough but believe you me, this game ISN’T easy. It takes a while to get used to it all. So, then when you go into the ‘Championship season’ (the bit when you look after Star and compete) you will already be pretty good at it all. I’ve come first in levels 1-5 when competing only because I practiced like mad before hand! Maybe the ‘super attribute’ horses appear after level 10? I’ll let you know when I get there. ------------------ ~ Conclusion ~ ------------------ All in all this game gets 4/5 stars from me. At first I was disappointed with the game (I got it when I was about 12) because of all t
he hype about it being ‘fully interactive’ and the likes. The actual interactive bit is a bit disappointing. There is only limited things to do with Star and in limited area’s on screen. Its not very life like either because: (a) He only ever gets groomed on his off side (right side), his near side must be filthy!, (b) Tacking up (and feeding/watering is done in a millisecond – not very realistic), (c) You don’t tie him up – he is very well behaved and stands nicely in the courtyard. AS IF! The actual ‘game’ part is pretty good though (and quite challenging). ------------------ ~Good points~ ------------------ · Its about horses! · Good graphics in comparison to other ‘interactive’ games, · The tack room also plays host to a guide book. This is handy for real life horses (i.e. it’s a bit like a care guide book you’d buy about real horses, including anatomy pictures), · The game part is challenging and kind of fun ------------------ ~ Bad points ~ ------------------ · Gets a bit tedious after a while, · Needs to be put on mute after a while (the commentary repeats itself a few times and the music gets on my nerves!) · Its not half as ‘interactive’ as it is made out to be. All in all though I would recommend this game to all horse lovers.