Reviewed in 2012 by Tibe

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Nags in your 24-bits!

by Tibe (2012)

You're part of these players constantly complaining about the dramatic lack of originality in videogames? You're tired of this arcade system's (the Neo Geo) dumb library, mainly composed of silly, numbing fighting games? Anyone would understand this, trust me. Here you are, you know, you just had to ask Saurus, my friend! On the question of originality, I think non-japanese fellows who will read this review will be fully pleased. And the tricky japanese editor heard your prayers, and believe me, he totally exceeded all your expectations. And now baby, there you are! A good big game of nags on the world's most powerful 16-bit console. Sponsored by the charismatic Guy Marchand and Omar Sharif, Stakes Winner of Saurus appeared on Neo Geo in 1995, in a beautiful case of 98 megs. It needed not less to contain all the beautiful lawns of the game, and its horses all very different from each other.

Ok, I often need to be obvious and critic with my videogames review, but with Stakes Winner, I can't see how I could. You got it, the least we could say, is that the editor Saurus has not been fucking with you my good friends. Back then, for only one thousand four-hundred ninety francs or the sale of one of your kidneys if you were healthy, you could become the proud owner of a Stakes Winner on the Neo Geo AES. So much to tell you that everyone has missed the subtleties of this wonderful soft, since it has sold very little. Result, now that time has passed, everybody understood what they have missed, so the price of the game takes off. Imagine instead, the few ballocks who bought the U.S. version of the game. They are now in possession of a copy worth two thousand euros. In the end, it seems good taste is finally rewarded in this crazy world.

To be honest, I've never played an arcade game of horse racing before, nor on any home system or PC, and even less on a mobile application. No matter how arcades I've visited during the nineties or how many hundred games I've been trying, Stakes Winner is my first time with horses. I say to myself, that only japanese people could produce such a terrible thing... Initially, you are given the choice between multiple chargers with different characteristics. Three values are represented: Speed, Stamina and Strength. Speed measures the top speed, endurance the ability to run fast for longer, and force the cruising speed of the nag. Clubbing regularly the A button during the race, allow you to maintain a certain speed, while B can whip to reach higher speeds. Attention to the endurance gauge, it's up to you to manage the capacities of your horse. You can also push other horses (-> ->) or slow down your horse (<- <-) as needed.

The game boils down to ride horses again and again, punctuated by bonus stages where it is possible to improve the abilities of its rider. The races vary in length and difficulty, but much to be honest, the game is very repetitive. Playing two simultaneously brings nothing more to the gaming pleasure, consisting in each player running for himself without specific interactions. You've understood that the gameplay is devilishly limited, and action, if it is taking during the first times you play, eventually gets on your nerves. Neither the graphics nor the sound will break the monotony, with green everywhere all the time and the same musical themes looping. Finally, Stakes Winner has for him a certain originality, and even if we have to recognize a decent realization to Saurus, we don't really see how the editor could have made this game more interesting.



Hope you like green? Environments are not varied and the draw is simplistic, let's say a Super NES could have done the same.
The gallops are well decomposed and action is fast, taking, with quite good scrollings.
Same themes from one race to another, you will bang your head against the walls! Effects are funny though, and the overall quality mediocre.
Repetitive and limited, Stakes Winner will entertain you for the time of a game, ie twenty minutes. I barely see how anyone could play for longer, except for a horse races lovers!
Good ideas are featured, like bonus stages and the horses roster. By cons, action is very limited and we quickly get bored. But, could have it been different?



A video game of horse races on the best 16-bit system of the world, what a wonderful idea!


With an AES knowing a significant raise since years, as well for the japanese or the highly expensive US version, Stakes Winner has everything to repulse players: an astronomic price and a very, very limited value (except maybe for Omar Sharif).

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