Run horsie run! Yeehaw! In iDerby you get to control your horse as it runs around the track. Expensive thoroughbred horses at full pelt sounds like fun, doesn’t it? iDerby is a mixture of untapped potential and exiting racing.
The controls in iDerby are a mixture of tilt and touch. The tilt controls are used for position of the horse on the track. To navigate around the opponents, and to block the inner position near the rails you simply tilt the iPhone. The touch controls are limited to two buttons: whip and hold. A meter in the middle of the lower part of the screen shows the stamina of the horse. To speed up you touch whip, but that of course takes a chunk of stamina away. To quickly rebuild stamina you touch hold, which slows the speed to allow the horse some rest. If you don’t do anything at all the horse keeps running at a pace that slowly rebuilds the stamina.
There are three modes available: quick play that lets you get right into a race, career mode and multiplayer mode. I have not been able to try the multiplayer mode, as there aren’t any other players available. The career mode is the meat of the game, and lets you create your own stable of three different horses. The horses have different abilities such as: strong starter or strong finisher. Your horse gets one of the three available abilities, and there is no way to change that. Other than giving the horse a funny name there is very little customization in the game. The career mode is just a series of races without any story or reward progression. I found it quite boring to play such a boring career mode.
The presentation is decent showing a zoomed out view of the racing. A minimap of sorts at the top shows how you are doing in the race. The sound is ok as well, and you can play your own music as well. Having scrollable text as tutorial feels a bit lazy.
The game has got a bit of Openfeint integration giving online scores. Other than chasing high scores I see little reason to play this game. I tried the lite version first, and enjoyed the quick play mode offered. The full version of iDerby has very little extra to offer since the career mode is basically the quick mode played in succession. Sad as the rich world of horse racing would be a great backdrop for some drama.
There is a definite sense of excitement when the race is on, and you try to keep the lead. Sadly the exact same strategy can result in a landslide victory or in me limping in last with my horsie. I would like to get more gameplay elements, and definitely strategy should be useful. A further nuisance is that the game crashes quite often upon start-up on my iPhone 3GS.
I had my hopes set up high for iDerby, but sadly the gameplay leaves much to be desired. The barren career mode also gives a half-baked feeling. Give the lite version a go as in byte sizes the game is quite fun.