Solomon's Key for the NES was released in Japan on this day in 1986.

Pippa Funnell: The Golden Stirrup Challenge (Windows)

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Written by  :  piltdown_man (68846)
Written on  :  Jan 19, 2014
Rating  :  2.33 Stars2.33 Stars2.33 Stars2.33 Stars2.33 Stars

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Summary

This has a 3+ rating!

The Good

The graphics are pretty and the controls are reasonably simple but no way are they suitable for anyone under the age of seven/eight.

I did appreciate that there was some kind of story here and that this was not just another virtual pet game.

The Bad

This is a game that irritated me intensely. The biggest problem I had with this game is that it didn't run on my pc. Now there's a section on the back of the keep case that explicitly states that the game only works with certain chipsets and that the game's copy protection may conflict with certain DVD-ROM drives. Well I can verify that the second limitation is indeed true. Once I had resurrected an old pc the game loaded fairly quickly but this is one of those games that will not play unless there's a CD in the drive.

Playing on an old pc though has disadvantages. The game looks good in a high resolution but it is, in some parts, unplayable. This was most noticeable in the dressage training where there were minor hangs every few seconds. In most parts of this, or other games, it would not be a problem but in this section it's important to hit a series of keys at precise times so I needed to maintain a rhythm. Looking around the web I found others who had experienced the same problem and that the solution is to reduce the screen resolution. This worked but it was a disappointment to play in low res (800x600).

There were other minor design issues too. It was annoying to have to enter a user name every time I entered the Training section, why no drop down menu with previously registered names?
However the biggest problem for me was just getting started. In the start of game animation the heroine crashes her scooter. The first in-game action is for the player, as a horse, to go and rescue her within two minutes. (This bit reminded me of TV shows in the 60's & 70's where Skippy the bush kangaroo, Flipper the dolphin, or Champion the Wonderhorse would instinctively know who was in distress and where to go.) Trouble here is I had, and still have, no idea where she is. I've ridden every trail I can find several times and, even though I know I am missing something, I cannot find her. Oh for a hint system! Oh for a map! This is the heroine of the game, rescuing her is something that cannot be bypassed.

The Bottom Line

It looks and sounds good but my experience was spoiled by technical difficulties and an unexpectedly hard introduction to the game.
This game is more suited to a ten year old, or possibly a game-savvy eight year old, than the three year old that the rating suggests.
Though the game carries the name of a sporting celebrity, Pippa Funnell or Alexandra Ledermann depending on the version you play, they really had little to do with the game. They are not even credited as equestrian consultants but as voice actors with minor parts.