You might have noticed that this review looks slightly different to other reviews on VideoGamer.com. That's because we look at games clearly designed for younger gamers in a slightly different way to other games. We'll endeavour to tell you just what you need to know in a clear and concise way so you'll be confident it's the right purchase for whatever your situation.
What is it?
Pippa Funnell Ranch Rescue (also known as Horsez 2 in some territories) is half horse caring sim, half adventure game. Players will spend their time breaking in their horse, cleaning and grooming them, cleaning the stable and riding.
Outside of the ranch you ride your horse to move from location to location as you meet characters and complete objectives to move the story along.
The game is split into three main sections: taking care of your horse, riding your horse and walking around on foot. All three use different control schemes but they're all simple to pick up.
All horse care is carried out by mainly using the Wii Remote to point at various things on the screen, be it to hose down a dirty horse or to pick dirt out of a horse hoof. Riding uses the Wii Remote and Nunchuck almost as if you're holding the reigns. Tilt both forwards and your horse will move forward, tilt the Nunchuck to the left and you'll turn left - it's very simple. Walking on foot is all done via the analogue stick on the Nunchuck.
Most of the characters in the game talk using on-screen text, but this is fairly simple and shouldn't be too complex for junior-school aged kids. All objectives are pointed to by an on-screen compass and a helpful map is only a button press away.
For girls who love horses Ranch Rescue should fit the bill very well indeed. The mixture of adventure and caring is handled well and the challenge is never too great for the target audience.
The caring aspect of the game has a Nintendogs feel to it, so anyone accustomed to that kind of gameplay will feel right at home. Girls interested in horses will also be able to learn about some of the effort that goes into looking after horses and the chores involved.
Ranch Rescue has a very distinct look that could almost have come out of a pastel painting. The entire game is bathed in colour and some strong lighting that gives everything a warm glow. Characters are modelled quite basically, but the horses look good despite the odd stiff bit of animation.
An area that could disappoint is the game's slow frame rate. It's not usually something that I'd expect young kids to notice or care about, but at times the game really starts to chug.
Anything for adults?
Ranch Rescue could easily be played by adults but the gameplay isn't nearly enthralling enough to keep interest levels high. Having said that, if you love Nintendogs then this could offer the same kind of enjoyment.
For the primary school aged girl who loves horses, Pippa Funnell Ranch Rescue is perfect. It's bright and colourful, easy to play and features more than horse training and cleaning. We wouldn't recommend it for adults, but wannabe horse trainers will get a lot from this nicely made title.