LOS ANGELES--Horse-racing games. You know them and love them. Or if you're in the majority, you know them and...are probably indifferent to them. Though games like Final Furlong have been around for years, they've typically sold only to the (very) select few who have a specific interest in breeding, training, and racing virtual ponies. But after playing the latest Final Furlong for the Wii at E3, we think we've found the first game starring horsies that could appeal to not just hardcore gamers, but even those who don't play games (which is the demographic Nintendo is after with the Wii in the first place).
The demo on offer contained only one action-oriented race, and onscreen it looked no different from other similar games. All the difference lay in the way we had to play the game, which involved using the Wii remote and nunchaku in tandem to emulate the reins on a horse. Yeah, we looked a little silly playing it, but darned if it wasn't a lot of fun. We simply shook the reins up and down (like you would while riding a real horse, we assume) to make the horse go faster, though if we whipped the beast into too much of a foam, he'd get too tired and start to lag behind the rest of the pack. Moving one rein to the left or right would steer the horse (again, just like in real life), and finally, we could hold the B trigger on the remote and then make a whipping motion to--you guessed it--whip the horse and make it go faster.
Granted, this demo didn't contain any of the dense, obscure training and breeding gameplay that you typically see in horse-racing games like this, but we found the action component to be legitimately invigorating. It's probably a safe bet that we'll be paying more attention to Final Furlong for the Wii than any horse-based game before it...unless you count any of the Zeldas. Stay tuned for more Wii from E3 as GameSpot's coverage rolls forward through the week.