A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Pony Friends 2 is an exceptional virtual pet game with many great lessons for players to pick up on. It is worth noting, however, that Pony Friends 2 is very, very similar to the original Pony Friends game. There are only a handful of new features -- which frankly, may be enough for kids who loved the original.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
In PONY FRIENDS 2, you'll move onto a horse ranch, buy a pony, and get tutored on how to care for that pony by a stablehand who looks like Joe Jonas. You'll groom, wash, feed, and pet your pony, as well as give it medicine when needed. You teach her tricks -- which you can use when performing in trick challenges -- and take her for rides along numerous wilderness trails. You can enter your horse in races, take photographs of animals you spot while on your rides, and check the bulletin board at the local Pony Club to see if any townsfolk need tasks performed ("quests" can be anything from finding a lost object to snapping a pic of a particular forest creature). As you earn money, you can buy new accessories for your pony -- or buy new ponies. If your stable is too full, you can always donate a pony to charity.
Is it any good?
Pony Friends 2 is a superb example of the virtual pet/animal simulation genre. The game looks great, the controls are simple, and there's enough depth and variety to keep kids interested in playing for a long time. The ability to design your own horse, from the style of its mane to the color and patterns of its hide, is a very nice creative touch. Kids who are collectors can feed their completionist tendencies with the ongoing animal-photography quest. There's a competitive aspect in the races and trick challenges, but it's never hyped up or made to be the central goal of the game. It's even wonderful the way you can take your rides at your own pace -- if you want to gallop along a trail and hurdle fences and fallen logs, you can; if you want to meander along and stop to take in the sights, you can do that too. There's a serene quality to Pony Friends that you rarely find in other video games. This sequel's only real flaw is that it may be a bit too similar to its predecessor.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the responsibilities of pet ownership. Ponies have long been considered dream pets for many children. If you really had a pony that you had to take care of, how would it compare to caring for a dog, cat, fish, hamster, or other more traditional pet? After playing the game, would you still want the responsibility of caring for a real horse?