Pocket Card Jockey (4)

Horse racing, the sport of kings! An event that draws terribly dressed people every year to the Durban July to watch some hawt equestrian action unfold on the race track as tiny, tiny people push their steeds to the limit. And then there’s Solitaire, a game for lonely people and anyone who is still using Windows 98 as an operating system. These two games of chance are worlds apart, ideas that in no way whatsoever should be able to co-exist.

Well somebody forgot to pass that memo on to Pocket Card Jockey, a game which somehow manages to combine the strategy of Solitaire with the hot speed of horse racing. And it does so beautifully. Let me set the stage for you: You’re a jockey. And a terrible one at that, as Pocket Card Jockey begins with you being Christopher Reeved into death by a horse stampede.

Pocket Card Jockey (1)

No worries, as an angel quickly gets you back in the saddle of the living and sends you on your way to become the greatest jockey who has ever lived as you work your way up the racing ladder. You’re going to need some help on the way however. A good horse! An experienced coach! Money! A normal height that is at least under 5’6!

And of course, Solitaire skills. It’s not just about being the quickest on the track. It’s about being the quickest with the cards you’re dealt. Pocket Card Jockey races are made up of three sections: Solid starts, positioning your filly and powering through the final homestretch. It’s during the positioning segments that you’ll need to guide your horse through the best possible route based on how much Unity Power you’ve accumulated from games of Solitaire.

Races typically offer two-three of these sections, with the Solitaire itself being a simplified version that can be played in ascending or descending order that isn’t dependent on matching colour. Clear all the tableaus, earn some Unity power and use that to position your horse. Easy. Fail, and any leftoever cards will put your horse in a bad mood that runs the risk of becoming a runaway that burns through all its stamina stockpiles.

Pocket Card Jockey (3)

The real challenge here comes from the positioning. Drawing a line into a comfort zone sounds easy, but you also have to factor in how close you want to be to the corner and dealing with other horses who can knock you off course. Factoring in mood, stamina and your horse’s attitude adds even more drama and runs the risk of creating a complex system to properly learn. Fortunately, Pocket Card Jockey has a thorough tutorial that manages to mesh everything together into an addictive sprint for the finish line.

But be prepared to lose. Pocket Card Jockey can be merciless at times. A good hand and a strong start means nothing when the random nature of a race rears its ugly head as a lot of these factors are simply out of your control. All that preparation, strategy and good luck is nothing when compared to the power of a runaway horse that gets in your way, according to the mob goons that I owe a massive debt to after losing several successive races.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

Pocket Card Jockey (2)

Just like life itself, good breeding is a recipe for success. Every horse you straddle begins in Growth Mode, a two year cycle where you work to level your steed to the max and give it the best possible combination of speed and stamina. After it turns three, it’s time to send your pony to the glue factory farm, where Mature Mode is in play. Here, you use what you’ve got and attempt to avoid losing three races in a row before your horribly named horse is sent out to go be a stud.

If your horse had plenty of wins, it’ll breed a champion and you can start all over again in Growth Mode. That’s the gist of Pocket Card Jockey. It’s an addictive title, a racing game with a ton of strategy woven into the track that somehow works despite it being the oddest pairing since ninjas and adolescent turtles were combined.

Last Updated: May 16, 2016

Pocket Card Jockey
Summary
Pocket Card Jockey sounds like the kind of game which just shouldn't work. But it says neigh to those disbelievers, as it's easily one of the most addictive games of 2016 to grace the Nintendo 3DS.
8.0
Pocket Card Jockey was reviewed on Nintendo 3DS
83 / 100

Darryn Bonthuys

Word-slinger at Critical Hit. Inventor of the macho Swiss gym chocolate known as Testoblerone. That's...that's about it really.

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