“Is that IT? Have I just completed it?”
“Those do seem to be the credits.”
“Wait! There were minigames on the menu.”
“You’re kidding me! Those are the same minigames from the game.”
This was the conversation I had with my seven-year old daughter after playing My Little Pony: A Maretime Bay Adventure for just ninety minutes. I’d returned to the living room to see how she was going and got this little explosion, before she promptly went to my games list and deleted it. I wasn’t aware that she even knew how to delete games. We will have a separate conversation about that one.
Having finished My Little Pony: A Maretime Bay Adventure ourselves, in a shorter time (we get competitive) we are inclined to agree with her. If you’re tempted to spend £34.99, then we need to run through some expectations.
My Little Pony: A Maretime Bay Adventure is extremely, farcically short. That’s not because it’s gaming dark-matter – a condensed lump of brilliant gameplay – oh no. It somehow manages to be both ninety minutes long AND drawn out, packed with filler to desperately nudge the runtime towards the triple-digits of minutes.
The majority of those ninety minutes were spent at a town built on a crossroads, trotting backwards and forwards doing fetch quests at the same stalls in a market, for the same characters. This is the tiniest of gaming packages, and you will keep unwrapping layers to find that it’s even smaller than you first imagined. If you thought ninety minutes for £34.99 was short, you will laugh and cry when you find that only thirty minutes of those are spent exploring new locations, or doing something other than delivering packages.
And those remaining thirty minutes aren’t much good, either. The stakes are as low as you can possibly imagine, as you are mostly doing chores for lazy ponies who should get their hooves out of their asses and do it themselves. Their missions mostly revolve around finding items in plain sight. My Little Pony: A Maretime Bay Adventure mostly seems scared of throwing platforms or genuine exploration at you.
Our ‘setting expectations’ has become most of the review, as My Little Pony: A Maretime Bay Adventure should have them as warning stickers on the box. This is a short, padded and throwaway little game, and even our seven-year old saw through it. If this is the direction that Outright Games are going in with their recently announced slate of games, then we are worried for the state of kids’ licenced games.
We should quickly reverse to explain what kind of game you’re getting with My Little Pony: A Maretime Bay Adventure. It is a halfway-house between platformer and fetch quest, and doesn’t do much with either of them.
On the platforming side, you might be tasked with finding an object, which will mean jumping up some rock ledges. These are all 3D platforming sections, but that shouldn’t concern anyone who is worried about difficulty. This is the easiest licenced game that we have played, simpler than the PAW Patrol games, so four-year-olds upwards should find it a breeze. The flip is that it’s incredibly benign: if you have a younger player who thrives on even the tiniest sliver of challenge, then there is none here.
Occasionally, a minigame gets tossed in your path. There’s some rabbit and crab herding, as you run and tag animals who then follow you to a pen. There’s some rhythm action stuff (only one song, even in the supplied minigames), and some on-rails racing where you dodge or jump obstacles. All of these are duplicated on the main menu for two players to play, but there’s no co-op in the main game proper.
The minigames are probably the best part of My Little Pony: A Maretime Bay Adventure. That’s more by elimination than anything else. They manage to shake you awake, at the very least, and we had our best moments playing the herding games two player.
The second half of My Little Pony: A Maretime Bay Adventure is the chatty, fetch-quest half, and it’s not even trying. You need a flower, medal, balloon or some other bauble, but people will only hand it over if you get them something else. So you’re chaining these requests together, wondering whether there’s an end to it all. This is how My Little Pony: A Maretime Bay Adventure gets the thirty minutes of gameplay up to ninety. It’s makework, has less than zero drama or significance attached to it, and it’s fooling nobody.
If the stakes were higher it might have felt less like you were Cinderella doing chores in the desperate hope of a ball at the end. But the story seems to revolve around graffiti on some posters and a bit of anti-unicorn propaganda. It doesn’t amount to much, and the presence of the TV show characters like Pipp, Zipp and Izzy won’t distract from the fact that this plot would have been dismissed as too lightweight for an episode.
Having spent £34.99 on My Little Pony: A Maretime Bay Adventure, and watched it disappear through our fingers like sand after barely ninety minutes, we can say with confidence that you should avoid this one at all costs. That’s going to hurt the My Little Pony fan in your household – this is the first MLP Xbox adventure, after all – but the disappointment of playing it will be far worse. Outright Games should know better than releasing this Shetland pony-sized game.
You can buy My Little Pony: A Maretime Bay Adventure from the Xbox Store