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Derby Manager Review (iOS)

Use your micromanagement abilities and match it with your love of competition & social network.

Derby Manager is a casual game for your iPhone where you can place bets on races and manage your own horse and ranch. The unnecessarily sexy cowgirl Coco Ana leads you through a tutorial where you are to use your given funds to purchase a horse and food. Once on your ranch you’re given a few pointers and then the gates are opened. Horses gain notoriety and earn money through practice rounds, which is against AI, and competing in other races with friends and other players. The winning (or in app purchase) of gems and coins allows for horse upgrades (saddles, special hay, armor) and in-game magic skills (oil slick, fire, etc.).

The concept is there: micro-managing your fictional horse based on it’s magical lineage to build a competitive community, all the while being rewarded for winning races.

Horse Management

Taking my horse (named Beantaro after the dog) out for a practice round was…boring. You picked the only race track available to you and watched a horse run its course. Moments before crossing the finishing line there was an automatic slow-mo moment, which would have had more dramatic results if the race were closer or if the horse did some endzone dance rather than just walk across the finish line. He was a bit spent so I fed him some hay to get him back up to par and went to learn more because feeding him kept me waiting. And waiting. He has the slowest digestive track, which pretty much forces you to look elsewhere while he eats.

The social aspect was pushed – make friends, go ramble on other people’s ranches & send friend requests. Being a newbie to the group I wanted to build my horse up before I did all that. While wandering through, I received many a screen that read, “More content coming soon.”

While looking around I kept having conversation feeds on my screen, something I couldn’t figure out how to turn off. The conversations were very enlightening, including discussions on chest size and likeability of other people.

Over the course of multiple days I placed bets, some of which I was present to watch (again, animated horses running a course)

and got immediate results…

And some I just placed bets on but found out my results later trough their internal email system, which also sends you notes from the administrators that let you know they gave a few coins just for checking in.

You can elect to have the push notifications, though the biggest thing I gained from those were that a) my horses were restless and can’t contain their energy so I need to check in b) that I’ve leveled up 2-3 times a day just by not doing anything (including not logging in) and c) that maybe I need to look more into this other social aspect app and oh here we’ll take you there right now.

The whole social aspect of the game, including the ability to search for a Hohool account, still leaves feeling dirty. I also can’t get over the push to rate the game with the suggestion that IF you give a 5-star rating they’ll work to improve it. Also, that request is clearly misspelled.

I try not to judge anyone based on experience (or lack thereof). The misspelling was a red light to me, though not a game killer. I wanted to learn more about this indie developer, Chengdu Dreambrother Network Technology Company, Ltd., and a simple Google search couldn’t find them but a link on another website found them. And then I saw this on their website and knew I was in the right place:

They are active on their Twitter account so at least that’s something. They have 3 game releases to their name, all of which came out within a month of each other starting in May of this year. While I’m trying not to judge them on their (lack of) experience in the market, I’m totally judging them on everything else that’s fact.

Final Thoughts

I’m a fan of horse racing, competitive play and casual games but this game did nothing to fuel the fire that would get me to play this game on a regular basis. It’s detail-oriented for the extreme micromanagers that really want to build their horses and ranches, which I wouldn’t have minded doing IF I had wanted to play. The racing was too far and few in between, the community wasn’t something I could get into. My horse leveled up without me doing anything; it defied the whole hard work/reward concept. My horse’s energy never seemed to deplete, either, despite a race or two and not checking in for several days. I only wish teenagers worked that way. The best part for me was working the waste management of other ranches (picking up the horse poo for coins). It’s the little things, I guess. Originally priced at $4.99 for the iPhone it’s now free to download – which is about all I’d pay for it.

About Hanna

I was raised in a predominantly male, dry humor & quick wit gaming-centric family. I am keeping the tradition going in my predominately male household full of gamers (3 of which are under the age of 16). Between cooking, cleaning & laundry & my constant run of doing things for free, my current game time is limited to after 9p and mobile & hand-held gaming devices. Come join in the conversation online!

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