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Come on out to my horse farm for a breath of fresh air. My Horse Farm styles itself as the Tycoon game for horse lovers, but it's really more unique than just one more tycoon game.
The relaxed feel of the game is evident from the first moment you view your sleepy little farm. The traditional animation graphics style is a refreshing interface that conveys the feel of dust motes floating in the sunshine and hay bales in the loft better than the most realistic computer generated graphics could. A mellow narrator guides you through the game options as a trusted friend and stable hand at your side.
Self-paced game play encourages you to take the time to personally get to know your horses and win their trust while carefully considering your options and laying plans to improve your farm. Will you increase your stables by breeding your horses? Will you make a name for yourself and your horses by training with them and competing in the tournament arena?
All the economic forces of a good tycoon game are here, finding avenues of revenue, investing to increase your horse stock and improve your farm, expanding your options through daily management decisions. This time, however, they are intertwined with your personal involvement in the day to day farm work, muck out the stalls, feed, water, groom, and make friends with your horses then hone your own riding skills while personally training and exercising your horses.
My Horse Farm is recommended for horse lovers eight and up but is sure to capture the imagination of any young girl who ever wanted a pony of her own (even if she's now much older). Younger children can also enjoy this game with a little help from a parent, teacher or older friend.
As a parent of two girls, I am always on the look out for the rare (but hopefully becoming less so) educational computer games for girls. This game employs a tried and true subject dear to the hearts of millions of young girls (horses) to entertain on a personal level that naturally appeals to the desire to befriend and care for the horses. The economic aspects are realistic and subtlety integrated providing excellent educational content that is eagerly absorbed by young girls.
One of the best aspects of the game is that it really does encourage your child to take good care of the animals in the game. Even if you go fully into the economic model, you still need to make sure that your horses are happy. This encourages children to be kind to animals. And having a friendly horse on your computer is a much better situation for most families than having one in the backyard.
The relaxed nature of the game is also a big plus. If you don't feel like turning your farm into one of the top stables in the world, that is no problem. The bank won't come out and repossess your horses or anything. In fact, there are several modes where you can take your horse friends out to just ride and have fun through the fields or even along a beach.
Breeding your horses is also a lot of fun, especially when your new ponies have taken on some of the same distinguishing characteristics of the parents.
My Horse Farm is really whatever you want it to be. If you want to drive an economic simulation, then you can. If you want to create a stable of prize-winning horses, that is an option as well. And if you just want to take care of your horse friends and go for long rides on the beach, the game will cater to you as well.
The title appeals to children (of all ages) and also anyone who has not lost their inborn love of horses. It earns 4.5 GiN Gems for its stable of awards, though the horses in my game would probably prefer sugar cubes.