June 28, 2002
G1 Jockey - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

Click To Enlarge Image
The races get fairly frantic.
Horse racing games are a rare breed outside Japan, and especially in PAL territories. But the games can be in the highest sellers in Japan where horse racing is extremely popular with the punters. But when it comes to having a punt on the horses Australia is up there with the best of them, so the potential for a game like this to sell well is very high. With this in mind THQ grabbed the rights to release this game, G1 Jockey, onto the market where it has been in the charts for several weeks. It's taken some time to get this review out, and anyone considering purchasing this game should read on.

Click To Enlarge Image
Comparing horses.
Koei's G1 Jockey begins by putting the player in the role of a rookie jockey in the world of horseracing. Starting the game can be a little daunting with all the people to meet, and things to remember, especially when it comes to picking the horses to race, but it is pretty simple. In the story mode, players can compete over the course of a full year and attempt to become a top jockey, while battling off fierce competition from their rivals.

Click To Enlarge Image
One of the race selection menus.
Actually racing the horses is the meat of the game. Not only will you have to adjust your horses' speed to suit their style but you will have to know when to start the run for the finish line. It's pretty tough as well. Make your run a mere hundred meters too early, or too late, and you won't have a hope of winning. As you start to win races you move up in the rankings and progress above a rookie jockey. By winning more races your options for better rides in bigger races increases with other stables. One of the most impressive things about this game is the statisticss that are retained for each horse and jockey over time. These stats are fairly detailed and will help you pick out the best horses to race next.

Click To Enlarge Image
The game includes victory salutes.
Unfortunately playing G1 Jockey seems just a little flat. It won't be long before you're skipping over most of the conversations and menus just to get to the races, and then for the most part you will just be sitting there until the last section when you make your move. Also disappointing, although it would be hard to integrate into a jockey game, is the inability to place bets on races. I used to own a couple of PC horse racing games, and betting on the races usually ended up being more fun.

Graphically there is little to shout about in this game. The horses are nice enough but their animation is obviously running in a group form. After the race the 15 or so horses will be showing down, but every single one will be moving their heads in exactly the same motion at the same time. The horse and rider detail is impressive enough, and the menus are adequate, but it just lacks the something special. Perhaps more animated crowds in the stands - I'm just not sure.

Click To Enlarge Image
2-player split screen racing.
Sound provides a similar lacklustre experience to the graphics. There is a lot of stomping of the horses during the race, but little else. Perhaps some live commentary could have been included, or speech throughout the game. Considering the smallish market of this title it was never going to happen however.

While Koei's G1 Jockey is functional enough, and horse racing enthusiasts will likely get quite a bit out of the game, this will probably not satisfy the majority of people. American Playstation 2 owners were fortunate to get a horse racing game from Tecmo, which is apparently very impressive. Unfortunately that game will never be coming out here so G1 Jockey is the only option. My recommendation: try before you buy.

GRAPHICSAdequate menus, models and animations. Adequate all round.
SOUNDAverage music and sound effects with no speech. Needs commentary.
GAMEPLAYNot as exciting as you would expect. Becomes repetitive quickly.
VALUEEnter race, race. Enter race, race. How long can you do that for?
OVERALLG1 Jockey will lack excitement for casual gamers, but horse riding enthusiasts are likely to get a lot more out of the title. Despite the potential, G1 Jockey is ultimately a disappointing ride.

Talk about G1 Jockey in this forum topic now.