From Zelda to Star Stable: How Horses Have Found a Home in Video Gaming

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From Zelda to Star Stable: How Horses Have Found a Home in Video Gaming

When you think about video gaming, the chances are that the first things that come to mind might include guiding a surprisingly acrobatic Italian plumber around a challenging obstacle course or simply battling aliens on some intergalactic adventure in deep space. In contrast, one of the last things you might imagine is playing a game in which riding a horse plays a key role in the action.

However, while you may not immediately draw a link between our four-legged friends and the world of video games, making the assumption that they do not figure at all would be completely wrong. In fact, if many experts are to be believed, horses may actually have a vital role to play in the biggest video game release of this year.

A blockbuster release

Expected to be launched at the end of October, the hugely anticipated western sequel Red Dead Redemption 2 is set to be such a massive game that developers have reportedly decided to move the release of other major new games so that they do not clash with it. The game will likely follow the original in the way that horses were integral to the action, with players having to tame and care for the different breeds in order to ride them across the rough landscape. To say the horses were a hit in the first game would be a major understatement, with Kotaku incredibly revealing how they were so impressive that gamers actually became attached to the animals and even mourned their loss.

Being a violent western, Red Dead Redemption and its sequel may not be to everyone’s tastes. However, it is just one of a number of games released on consoles and other platforms down the years in which horses have had a vital role to play. Put simply, there are plenty of opportunities available for you to take your real love of the animals into the virtual world.

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Iconic characters

Arguably gaming’s best-known horse is Link’s trusty steed Epona from the much-loved Legend of Zelda series, a mainstay franchise on Nintendo’s array of consoles across the past couple of decades. The horse first featured in Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 64, which was released in 1998 but has gone on to have a recurring role in many of the titles since. Rather surprisingly though, she was seemingly not included in the hugely acclaimed Breath of the Wild game for the Nintendo Switch, although it soon emerged that she could be summoned into the game.

Other well-known horses in famous console titles include Agro, the horse companion featured in Shadow of the Colossus. The animal plays an integral role in helping the game’s hero Wander to defeat a number of huge monsters, particularly the flying beast known as Phalanx. Another game where horses have had a significant role to play is Battlefield 1, with The Verge writing extensively about the animals when the game was in beta.

Be a champion

There is more to horses in video gaming than just console titles, however. Another area of gaming where horses have thrived is in the hugely popular world of online slots, with IGT’s Champions Raceway title bringing horse racing’s classic affiliation with gambling into the 21st Century. While it features reels and all of the functions you would expect from a standard online slot, it also includes horse racing action at the top of the screen with the outcome of the races determining the bonuses that players might receive. However, if you’re looking to enjoy the thrills of horse racing without having a flutter, the mobile game Photo Finish Horse Racing could well be one for you. Highly rated by gamers on app stores such as Google Play, the game from Tilting Point allows players to hire a jockey, train up their horse and then compete in a range of competitions starting with small-scale events and running all the through to major cup meetings.

Horse-related games are not all just aimed at grown-ups. The bond between young people and horses can be especially strong, so it is unsurprising that some games have attempted to harness that passion. Arguably one of the most successful to do so is Star Stable, an online multiplayer game aimed at girls and young women in which players look after their horses and then ride out with friends on a host of quests and adventures. The game has proved to be a huge success, with the Financial Times reporting that it now has more than 14 million registered players across the world. Another game with a similar feel is My Horse, a title that lets players look after a horse and then train to compete with the animal in show jumping events.

An array of experiences

So, as you can see from above, horses have had a huge impact on the video gaming world in a number of ways. From helping valiant heroes to defeat powerful enemies to simply being trained up for a major race meet, there are a number of roles that the animals take on in a vast array of experiences.

With Red Dead Redemption 2 set to reaffirm the importance of our four-legged friends in video gaming later this year, there has arguably never been a better time to find the best horse-related game for you. Considering the range of different titles on offer across a range of different platforms, we’re sure you’ll soon find the perfect fit.

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