Stakes Winner (NeoGeo)

Datafile

Company: Saurus
Year: 1996
Plataform: NeoGeo Consoles
Controller: Console’s default controller

Foreword

Horse racing is an interesting genre. Depending who you ask, can, or can not, be considered a sport. The traditional features of horse racing videogames are focused more on the gambling side of the activity, because there is not too much action, or when it does, it is for very brief time periods.

The company Saurus tries its luck in this kind of videogames, with an interesting approarch, which in retrospective, it can be considered sort-a-kind of prequel of videogames for mobile devices, due to its main mechanism of playing.

Game

It’s hard to not yell the name of the horse when leading.

The control schema is really quite simple: with one button you can speed up a little (gallop a bit), while the other speed up more (whiping the horse). Every cartoonish horse has an energy bar which deplenishes as the race goes by. When speeding up, the faster it decreases.

Be careful of not whiping a lot the horse, because some of them are very edgy with close to zero tolerance for getting whipped. These horses can rebel and do not fully stop, because the game does not allow it. In this videogame is really important to know when to whip the horse, because if it’s too late in the race, there won’t be enough time to speed. Consider that every race takes close to 1 minute from start to finish.

That’s right, 1 minute, because the action is frenzy. It’s possible to never spped up, but it will surely guarantee you the last place. You can see, in the bottom section of the screen, the face of the horse which can express joy while winning, tiring, or if it is not agreeing with the whipping. If that happens, it will shook its head in disapproval.

Caballo Stakes Winner
Choose carefully the horse to start racing.

When the horse arrives at the goal line below the third place, it requires a new credit in arcade mode, or costs a life in console mode. Otherwise, it can compete in the next race. There is a map at the top right section of the screen very useful to know when to sprint, often it’s in the curve.

The last available movement is pushing aside other horses. This is done tapping twice the control in the direction the horse is facing. This can be useful to get powerup items that suddenly appear in the track.

The videogamer with the pad, can position the horse to take better a curve, or blocking a rival. This last action, while penalized in real-life, it is not in this videogame.

There are many horses to choose from, each one of them with different skills. You can evaluate the horse with 3 attributes:

  • SPD (Speed): Acceleration skill.
  • STM (Stamina): How many whips can get and maintain maximum speed.
  • STR (Strength): Skill to push aside other horses.

For beginners I recommend horses with high Stamina. High Speed and Low Stamina must be used with really high precision. I did not pushed aside too many horses, so I don’t think Strength is very useful at first.

Considering the previous paragraph, for starters, Hot Sand is a good option. For advanced videogamers, Asian Hope.

Legacy

There was a sequel, for the same platforms, Stakes Winners 2. This sequel is considered a lot easier, and even allows racing in famous horse racing tracks in United States, and/or Europe.

Epilogue

The satisfaction of winning the race.

The idea of brief and consise actions, and a mechanism to allow gaming by depositing more coins after those actions, was unseen at the time. I admit that, if played a videogame with that mechanism at the time, I would have been angry at it.

But in the times this entry is written, basically every videogame for mobile devices you play, many times you play a bit, you lose, and must deposit money, or wait, to keep playing.

The action is so frentic, just as the one in horse racing, that the videogamer may forget to press the buttons. Or not pressing them in time. And yes, this videogame is really addictive trying to win a race or finishing in a better place.

I found testing many times if I was able to win more races, but never won three straight. It’s not the first game we have written about where the goal for the videogamer is getting a better place or time in short races. This videogame, without doubt, has a really short time to react.

References

Sport Icon designed by Freepik of Flaticon licensed by CC 3.0 BY.

Console Icon taken from Retroarch.

EstadioRetro

Informatic guy and fan of retro videogaming. Mexican and spanish. I like to drink good coffee. My favorite sport is baseball, but I like to watch others.

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