Usaya is a Japanese development team specializing in crazy titles for mobile systems. Until My Horse Prince, however, nothing of them had ever arrived translated into a language that even us Westerners could understand. Let's say it right away: their production is completely over the top. Just to say, it includes a title starring a cat who gets shot from one hollow tree trunk to another (and up to here) to catch a bird, or another starring a school-age girl who has to climb giant white radishes avoiding their hairs. My Horse Prince, however, is their absolute masterpiece, the title capable of revolutionizing the mobile world ... No, not really. At best, it can yield some erotic nightmares. It is a free-to-play dating simulator starring Umako, a nice and attractive city girl who moves to the countryside to find the man of her dreams. It is known that the more relaxed rhythms of life in the open air can work wonders for love. The problem is that in the countryside he finds no man, but a horse with a man's face. No, we are not talking about an anthropomorphic creature like Bojack Horseman or any centaur, but a real horse, only with the face that looks like it came out of a shojo manga. The explanation as to why he sees it in this way is given in a hasty way and is never in depth throughout the game, but consider that the whole narrative has a strongly surreal tone and is based on absurd situations, so there is little to say about it. be amazed or tear your clothes, unless you consider more likely a front horse of a rock band or surfing champion. However Yuuma, this is the name of the horse, falls madly in love with her, who slowly begins to reciprocate, becoming also the mistress.
At a gallop
All this is told in the most classic form of a visual novel, that is through a series of dialogues between the characters, actually not very long (forget to spend hours reading as it happens in a Grisaia or in a Clannad). The chapters are all composed in the same way: they open with a theatrical scene in which the theme is anticipated, continue with a dialogue sequence, then we move on to the actual action, which ends with an artwork and another dialogue. The designs are very beautiful, in pure anime style (not very original, let's face it), albeit the horse itself is downright grotesque, especially when it behaves romantically with Umako. This was probably the desired effect, but this does not dampen the concern. Anxiety that is reinforced by the aforementioned action scenes, which are the core of the gameplay. In each chapter Yuuma has to perform a single task: for example, eat carrots, or beat a bully who threatens Umako, or train; repeating it many times to accumulate points, so as to fill the affinity bar with the girl at the top of the screen. Performing actions is very easy: icons appear on the screen that you have to touch. That's all? Yup. The problem is that each action consumes some of Yuuma's energy which, when tired, gets fewer points. The ways to make him recover energy are basically two: to have Umako answer his questions trying to find the right answer among the three available, or brush him for hours (literally). And here My Horse Prince expresses all its weaknesses, largely due to its free-to-play nature.
My Horse Prince is about a girl who falls in love with a horse with a human face ... Really!
Of penises and microtransactions
In each chapter Yuuma can only ask a handful of questions to Umako, who in the event of an error can try again by starting a commercial (once you have learned all of them by heart, you are hardly wrong again). The tragedy is that the answers are often arbitrary and make no sense. For example, in the chapter set on the beach, Yuuma asks Umako what she would take with her to a desert island. The right answer is "a pillow". The reason? Because in this way he will have nothing to defend himself with and he will have to think about it (romanticone). Obviously, until the answer is given, it is not possible to understand why it is the right one. In some cases it can be guessed, but in others not at all. The system is obviously designed to show us some commercials. Also the slowness in the accumulation of affinity points is functional to the purchases in game. There are two ways to speed up the process, both to be paid for with real money: a horseshoe that doubles the points earned by actions forever and golden carrots that create a state of frenzy in the horse with relative bonuses. Golden carrots are consumable and, once exhausted, must be bought back. In short, the action phases of My Horse Prince are deliberately long, tedious and repetitive; and the jokes with which the characters occasionally comment on the situation don't help much. The most disturbing element of the game, however, is another. Yuuma is a horse, but he is not as animated as a horse. The movements of the neck are more reminiscent of those of a penis. The sensation is strengthened by the fact that the human face placed in that position resembles a glans. It has hair and mouth, but always a glans it is. The double meaning is not only the birth of our sick mind, but a precise choice of the developers, who have created unnatural animations precisely to underline this anatomical assonance. And then, thinking about the rest of their production, the fact that there is a double meaning does not surprise us too much.
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My Horse Prince sadly suffers the same drama as so many free-to-play games. To convince us to buy something, the developers have expanded the timing of the action sequences to excess, making them tedious. Spending money is not mandatory to get to the end of the game. We specify: it is not mandatory, as long as you convince yourself to waste a lot of time. Too bad, because the story told is as funny as it is absurd, to the point of making it interesting to move on only to see the next madness Yuuma will engage in. Precisely for this reason we do not feel like crushing it completely.
- The absurdities he tells are interesting
- The designs are good
- A horse with a man's face seducing a girl
- Long and tedious action sequences