Summary Saddle up for an adventure on horseback, in which you can compete and explore with Mary-Kate & Ashley.
Description Type: Sports
Platform: PlayStation One, Gameboy Colour
Players: 1 - 2 players
Age: 3 plus
Game Time: 2 hours
Developer or Designer: Dualstar Interactive
Publisher: Club Acclaim
Create for own horse
Lots of different fame modes
The sixth game in a series of Mary-Kate & Ashley 'girl games' Winner's Circle was released for the Playstation One and Gameboy Colour in 2001. Given the year, I would have expected significantly better graphics. In an earlier review I criticised the poor pixilated graphics of Crush Course, but these are even worse. The characters are barely recognisable as the people they portray.
As well as being able to play as Mary-Kate & Ashley, you can also create your own custom character, but the developers were very narrow minded, and out of the skin types you can choose, there is not a black or asian skin tone among them.
Winner's Circle is all about riding horses. You can enter competitions or just explore forest and island landscapes (given their poor appearance, I don't know why anyone would).
You start off at the stables, where you can design your own horse. This is the one section where there are a few decent options to choose from, from facial and leg markings to body colour.
After that, the next step is to look after the horse. This section had a lot of potential. What horse loving child wouldn't love to be able to feed, groom, or even muck out the stables. Unfortunately gamers are completely cheated. Instead of having any interaction, al you get is a five second clip of Mary-Kate/Ashely doing the task.
Before going out, you have to get dressed, so head over to the changing to and get kitted out. To begin with there are only a few options, but once you earn ribbons, you can go to the shop and buy more gear.
That is if you manage to earn any ribbons. The controls are absolutely awful as 'jump' and any other special move is unresponsive. You can move forward/back/left/right and change camera angles, but the other options do not react at all. I tried changing the controller configuration, and while that allowed me to eventually jump, it played havoc with the direction controls.
If by some miracle you do work it out, the competitions include dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. There are five different difficulty levels and computer scores to beat. This is also a two player game, you can also compete in these contests against friends.
As well as Career Mode, there is an Adventure Mode, where you can free ride through a forest or island environment. In this mode you can follow a horse trail or collect horse shoes against the clock. As Adventure Mode does not require any jumping or special moves, it is the most successful part of the game, but I do use the term 'successful' loosely.