Most people probably will be turned off from the game’s title right away. Horse racing probably isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but it’s always nice to see games that go away from ordinary and explore different things. Tecmo has already tried their hands at Horse Racing and it was a quite enjoyable game. So before you judge this game by its cover you might want to give the game a chance, because it may grow on you.
So for the most part you either have never seen a horse racing title or you have never played one, so you will probably want to know a little bit about how a horse racing title goes. Having enjoyed many days at the horse tracks, I must first say that this is a total horse racing simulation with almost no traces of an arcade style. So since you’re the jockey there are several parts of the race where you are not doing anything. This means a lot of the actual race is automated, which basically means you will be watching it.
What really makes this game a simulation apart from the racing it’elf, is that you are only on the track about half of the time. The other portion of the game you are either buying or retiring horses, scheduling events, breeding, and working on other things to give you the best opportunity to win. There are also some portions of gambling before a race, where you can put money down a race. This makes it even more interesting of a race when you have money on it.
The game modes to choose from aren’t as plentiful as you would hope - there are a total of two modes to choose from. Free Mode where you just get to do a free race, as well as customizing all the settings. And then there is a season mode, where 99% of the game can be found. In this mode you have to make your way from being a jockey with poor horses in easy races, up to the top notch racing. What this means is your going to have to gain money by winning races and bets to advance and purchase better trained horses.
This only stays interesting for so long. I mean this is a racing title, and the simulation aspects of it can be entertaining, but wouldn’t keep you occupied for long. This is what really hurts Gallop Racer 2003 so much in the long run, because it can only catch your interest for a short while, and after that the game becomes rather boring and stale. The one thing that kept me coming back for more was putting wagers on races. This is how I mainly made most of my money in the game to get enough money to purchase a new horse.
The controls on Gallop Racer 2003 are a bit tricky; therefore Tecmo has placed a nice tutorial mode at the start of the season mode to really give you the inside track to winning races. This tutorial mode isn’t short by any stretch, but gives you all the necessary information, by breaking up the race in three categories, start, middle, and finish, to fully let you understand what it takes to win it all.
The one thing that I think Gallop Racer 2003 was missing was some decent sound, both in game and during the menus. The sound provided in the game is not anything anyone is going to want to listen to, so why not get some music licenses and spice the game up a bit. That’s just my two cents on the sound situation. So for the majority of the game you will probably find yourself muting out the game’s music.
There is a track, horses, jockeys and stadiums - that’s really all there is to Gallop Racer 2003’s graphics. So to start off with we will discuss the horses and jockeys. What is impressive is that there are so many different horse models to choose from in Gallop Racer 2003 that you can really see substantial differences between horses. Not only are there a lot of horse models, but all of the horse models look pretty solid. They are very detailed and sharp, exactly what you would want it to be. The jockeys on the other hand aren’t very noticeable on the track. When you first select your character you will see an outgoing bright character that you don’t see once you get down to the track.
And as for the tracks, it’s really kind of hard to judge them. The tracks consist of an oval shape with either dirt or grass, surrounded by stadiums. So for all the different tracks and the minor differences between each of them I would have to say that Tecmo did a nice job working with what they had. So for the most part although Tecmo looks great, there just isn’t anything in this game that is going to make you say "wow".
Gallop Racer 2003, although only having two game modes is actually quite a deep game that would take quite a long time to get to the top. The only problem is would you actually want to go through and try and complete this game. The answer is probably not, due to all the busy work you are given to do before you actually get to race. You will find yourself having a sigh of relief when you actually get to race, because the racing is not only what the game is all about, but it’s also the more enjoyable portion of the game.
I would first just like to praise Tecmo for going out and doing something out of the ordinary and bringing us a game we don’t see everyday. And although this is a horse racing game, it’s surprisingly a solid title with a lot of good features that could mold this series in to becoming an excellent one. So if you are in the mood for a horse racing adventure, and don’t mind putting some time into it, Gallop Racer 2003 will definitely be worth a shot.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.