Things take a more positive turn with Horse Racing, which we’d argue is actually the most substantial game mode on offer here, believe it or not. You’ll compete in races across 12 different tracks, with a variety of horses to choose from based on their speed, balance, technique and power. After choosing your long-faced companion you’ll dive into a frantic chase to the finish line by choosing the right time to gallop ahead and the right time to stick with the pack. The game actually draws a lot of attention to the “herd” mechanic, which rewards horses with faster stamina recharge if they remain close to each other on the track. There are also special star dashes to collect for an extra boost when needed, and alternate routes with obstacles to avoid if you feel up to the added challenge. If we were to pick out a negative then the races can be a bit long-winded and samey after a while, but we were pleasantly surprised by how this mode turned out.
The stable is also a really charming extra mode included as part of Horse Racing. Here, players are allowed to customize and care for their own horse, improving your bond together by feeding and grooming them. You can even go on leisurely walks around open – albeit small – environments to find accessories to beautify your mare and improve their stats further, unlocking new pastures to explore little by little. You can also get a feel for race courses on your own time, by galloping around and scoping out optimal routes while the pressure is off. Brushing and feeding your horse is actually not unlike recent Pokémon games, allowing for you to poke and prod using the touchscreen in between races, and it makes for a welcome respite.