Anime is a pretty bizarre Japanese cultural offshoot, with boys who turn into girls when splashed with cold water, food that tastes so exquisite it makes your clothing burst at the seams, and mixed martial arts fighters with hair so glam and gravity-defying it rivals even Marge Simpson. You might consider yourself a seasoned otaku, immune to the weird ubiquity of it all. But no. Nothing can possibly prepare you for the absurdity that is My Horse Prince, an unconventional dating simulator that hinges on bestiality at worst and encourages humane treatment of animals at best.
When Umako (lit. horse child) tires of the big city life, she quits her job, decides to visit a country farm, and winds up becoming the owner of a horse with a human face. As Umako, your job is to help train the man-horse, complete various challenges and increase your romantic standing with him. Gameplay is spread across multiple chapters and exercises a similar tap mechanic that adds variation through different tasks, such as eating carrots, running on treadmills, or chopping spring onions with hooves. Depending on your HP, you gain either five or ten points for your efforts. It’s mildly repetitive, but within each task there are three conversational opportunities where the man-horse asks you questions related to your love life. Answer correctly, and you earn 30 points. No experience reading Horsemopolitan? No worries. The questions are simple and relatively undisturbing, but once your three convos are up, you either need to wait around 30 minutes for one to unlock, or partake in the dreaded ritual of viewing ads. Random pop-ups and ads peeking in at the bottom of the screen interrupt the experience somewhat, but the cheesy PowerPoint chimes and cheerful background music that grace your ear canal more than make up for it.
While undeniably bizarre, My Horse Prince has a unique appeal through its polished character art which captures the essence of Japanese anime - cicada blocks included. The ongoing storyline tracking the development of Umako’s and man horse’s ‘relationship’ also helps in keeping the game from feeling overly stale, but tasks and minigames with different game mechanics would have made gameplay feel fresher, rather than a pure grind to gain love XP. As a casual dating sim, My Horse Prince works because of shock value, the popularity of shojo anime, and its total embrace of weirdness. It does lose replay value relatively quickly, but few titles on the App Store could possibly be so simultaneously hilarious and cringe-inducing.
The game is average, with an even mix of positives and negatives.
While undeniably bizarre, My Horse Prince assaults the senses with unique shock value that provides an intriguing take on the typical dating sim. Its appealing character art captures the essence of Japanese anime, but gameplay plateaus due to repetitive mini games. A casual must play for horse lovers.