Okay, it is with extreme chagrin, yet pride, that I announce… I am addicted to Star Stable. What is it? Well… it’s basically riding horses and playing dress-up. :X Yes, it IS a game geared towards younger girls.
You may laugh. Go ahead. But I’ll tell ya, until Alicia Online comes out in the USA/European market… this is what I’ll play. (And no, I don’t want to steal Korean social-security numbers to get onto the original server to play Alica Online. :P )
The game is free to play, but limited. You can get to about level 4, and you can ride around at the base stable lands and a mid-sized town. But you can’t unlock other areas or do other quests until you become a Star Rider. Important quests like learning how to jump with your horse.
You can buy Star Rider membership by the month, or you can become a Lifetime Star Rider. Depending, of course, on how long you think you’ll want to mess around with this game. I got my lifetime membership on sale, so it was 55 US$ and came with 2400 Star Coins, which are the elite (real money) currency. There’s in-game Jorvik Shillings, too. But you can’t buy more horses with them. ;) (Also note: besides being able to buy Star Coins separately, Star Riders get a weekly stipend of 100 SCs per week.)
My friends looked at me as if I were ten kinds of crazy (and not the good kinds), but frankly, I’m happy I bought it.
Once you unlock the roads to the rest of the country of Jarlaheim, there’s a HUGE world to explore. And it is very pretty, too. I find it a little disconcerting to occassionally see a car drive by on the roads… and the combine harvesters scare me… and I did almost get run over by a bulldozer once…! But it’s not supposed to be a medieval fantasy game.
Also, there are tons of quests. Now… some of them are, quite frankly, really goofy. Like the bridge-building quests. Donald the Builder is afraid of heights, so he can’t go out onto the bridge to survey the damage that was done to it. Why don’t you go do that?
Okay, the bridge needs planks. There were plenty of planks in the warehouse, but they were on the top shelf, which of course, Donald the Builder couldn’t climb up to, so… he has no planks. That’s okay, you can MAKE planks. If you take these tools and go unpack and assemble his plank-making machines for him.
Once that’s done, you need logs. No, fortunately, you don’t have to cut down any trees yourself! But go take your horse and haul a log over here. That’s really good. Then Donald the Builder puts the log under his truck wheels to keep it from rolling. D’OH!!
That quest was quite irritating. There’s another quest line with this stuck-up snotty little brat named Loretta. She insults you, your intelligence, your riding ability, and your horse’s name. Then she disappears. (There was great rejoicing.) And, as far as I’m concerned, she can stay gone!!
Sadly, to unlock the bridge quest area and the rest of the country, you have to do the “Find Loretta” quest. Sadly, she did not get flattened in the rockslide. But once you find her, you don’t really need to talk to her any more.
Although, yes, eventually, I will. The quests are rather linear, really. Not optional. Oh well. I’m told Loretta eventually becomes your friend and lets you into her club. Not me, sister. Sorry, I do not make friends with stuck-up snotty brats. And I don’t want to be in their stuck-up snotty club.
Another thing I like about some of the quests (although at times it can be annoying), is that some require you to come back another day. In the game, you can pay to ‘stay overnight’ at one of the stable lodgings (for a fee) and get to the quest that way. But I actually like how it slows the game down, and doesn’t let you glut yourself and play for 5 hours straight and finish the whole game in a couple of days.
The Star Stable Online Ridethrough blog has a whole list of quests, by which day they become available. Going at full speed, there’s at least 68 days worth of play, there.
Now, if you’re not a young girl, here’s some things you ought to know about the game. First, your character can only be… a young girl. Well, a young adult woman. A friend of mine also mentioned there’s only white folk in the game. While this is not 100% true, the game was developed in Sweden, so… it is not exactly ethnically diverse.
You can only pick a first name from a list, and build a last name from two lists. The first names, of course, are all girl names, even if you wanted to play a boy. Though some can be somewhat androgynous. And some look like boys names. (I keep reading Svea as Sven.) Horse names are similar. This, of course, prevents anyone from inputting any inappropriate words or names.
There is no live chat moderation, but they implement some form of ubercensor that bleeps out any unrecognized or unsanctioned words. And typos. This has it’s own problems, as half the names the game uses don’t seem recognized, and for some reason the other night I couldn’t say the word “stables.” Numbers are not allowed either numerically or typed out. (I presume this is to prevent people stating their age, grade, or telephone numbers.) But it’s also annoying trying to tell people how long until an event, for example.
The horse implementation is very well done. The animations are fantastic. And I can be very picky about my horse simulations! I like the controls, and I like the stats they set up for the horse and rider. Of course, you need special gear to boost your stats to compete in races, and you need higher levels for some of the gear, so you have to keep doing quests and levelling… It’s very engaging.
That, and the playing dress-up. :X Because you can go to any shop/stall and preview any/all gear for you or your horse. Mix and match, find the best styles, your favorite colours…. :X If you like catalogue shopping, there’s also a database of all the gear in the game.
And did I mention there’s pets? There’s adorable bunnies and puppies and kitties you can carry in a saddlebag with you! (Okay, actually, the kitties look a little wired, but the other pets are sooo cute.) And there’s fishing. I haven’t found out WHERE I can fish yet (or if I need a quest to unlock it that I haven’t gotten to yet), but… OMG… Horses, Pets, and Fishing? This is like the Xanadu of my gaming loves!!!
You can check out my picks on my Flickr, under Ponies & Horses.
Hah, so anyway…. It’s free to give it a look, so why not? My name on there is Tanja Darkforest. (But call me Tarja, because that’s the name I actually wanted. Although one or both are probably censored out.)