By Elijah O’Donnell
Dating simulator games are nothing new. Dōkyūsei was the first, all the way back in 1992, and since then we’ve had a sweep of sims of all kinds.
From games like Doki Doki Literature Club, a secretly twisted Japanese highschool sim, Dream Daddy, where you, as a single dad date other single dads, and Hatoful Boyfriend, a game where you can date a pigeon. Enough said.
But none are quite the same strange breed as My Horse Prince.
The premise is simple. You are tired of the boring dudes at your office so you figure you could head down to a countryside ranch in search of your next fling. What you don’t expect to find, let alone find yourself owning or falling in love with is a horse with a human head.
To be fair, only you see Yuuma’s human head. To everyone else, he is just another horse. This is quickly explained away by the fact that you’re a girl born in the year of the horse and sometimes this kind of thing happens to girls born in the year of the horse. The quick and offhanded explanations are a frequent occurrence in a game as absurd as this.
As far as the story goes, My Horse Prince is simple but effective. Before you really have a chance to say no, you are Yuumas owner and thus it’s your job to make sure he’s ready for his big races.
Guided by the ever-lovable and comedic Ojisan and his cast of relatives you find yourself and Yuuma working, training and bonding in a different situation through each of the ten main chapters and three bonus chapters. These things include training on treadmills, catching some waves at the beach (yes, Yuuma can surf) and, of course, racing.
Gameplay consists of talking to Yuuma. He will present a dialogue option and whichever of the three responses you pick determines how much energy he gains or loses. This energy totals to a maximum of 100 per cent and the higher percentage you have dictates how effective the activity he’s doing in that chapter will be, with a unique animation for each effectiveness level.
Activities done at 80 per cent will have a more active and engaged animation than those done at lower percentages. The end goal is to fill up the heart meter at the top of the screen to grow your bond stronger and move to the next chapter. It’s that simple.
The real draw is in the story that unfolds between the events. You’re provided with a short cutscene in between each chapter to help move things along. These include attacks from street gangs, stampedes of Yuumas adoring fans, run-ins from past rivals and Yuuma cooking you breakfast.
The game will also send you notifications to let you know that you can talk to Yuuma again and he will ask you personally if want to chat with him again. Cute.