Horse racing has arrived on the Nintendo 3DS just in time for the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby. Sort of.
Pocket Card Jockey, released on the Nintendo eShop Thursday, is a handheld video game that combines horse racing with solitaire. It’s the latest offering from Game Freak, best known as the developers of the immensely-popular Pokemon series. It costs $6.99.
The game includes puzzle-solving elements, power-ups and a level-up system that incoporates aging and retirement of one’s top horses. That leads to a breeding system which encourage players to pair winning stock with one another to make stronger horses.
It appears to be a hit; the game boasts an 86 score on Metacritic as of Thursday afternoon. By the looks of it, you could do worse to pass the time while you’re waiting between races at Churchill Downs on Saturday than this unconventional piece of software.
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Here’s a sampling of what video game journalists had to say about Pocket Card Jockey:
▪ “Indeed, Pocket Card Jockey's breeding of racing and cards sounds like an inhuman project by an unscrupulous race track manager. But the end product, though flawed, is guaranteed to gobble up your free time like a gelding going at a bushel of apples.” — Nadia Oxford of USGamer
▪ “The story is completely silly and it knows that, having a good time with the dialogue and various characters you meet along the way. But it actually treats horse racing quite seriously, offering up definitions when real-world horse terminology is used. There’s a definite feeling of respect here despite the simple presentation.” — GameXplain
▪ “I never want to stop playing Pocket Card Jockey. This game hit me the same way Tetris hit millions around the world back in the 80s. In fact, I want this game to be the next Tetris.” — CJ Andriessen of Destructoid
▪ “Pocket Card Jockey is a game about playing Solitaire to make race horses go fast, a cocktail which is absolutely inscrutable, punishing and potentially even more difficult than actual horse racing. Also, I absolutely cannot stop playing it.” — Griffin McElroy of Polygon
▪ “I’m addicted to Pocket Card Jockey, folks. It’s the game I play while watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and I somehow can’t even put it down when those games are finished.” — Joey Davidson of TechnoBuffalo