Derby Manager (iPhone/iPad) is a casual micromanagement game developed by Dreambrother. It is that kind of game where one begins with basically nothing and then gets rewarded through hard work. The game focuses on even what appear minor details but those that can actually make a difference between winning and losing. Also it provides reality based horse racing and betting to keep players absorbed for long.
Most games in the micromanagement genre get boring because the all feel too similar. Derby Manger is different, however; it’s about horse racing. Players buy, bring up, breed, feed and manage their own ponies that can participate in races against other using an online account.
The key is to upgrade and customize the horse by purchasing things like saddles, hay for feeding, magic upgrades like speed booster, etc. to win races. Winning those races bring in coins and diamonds, along with experience points for the horse to continue growing and getting better.
However, racing isn’t the only activity available – betting on other people’s horses is also an entertaining way for players to earn money. Once players have online friends with race-winning horses, enough money can be gathered via the betting system to support the upbringing of ponies.
The graphics aren’t console-quality but are nicely animated and give the game an inviting, casual look. After listening to the initial tutorial the controls become really simple and easy to follow through. While the sound is more than capable of being related to what is going on in the game and there is no need to mute it.
What impressed me about Derby Manager was the amount of customization – horses can belong to different classes and two horses by the same user can have completely unique ability sets. Betting on the horses is also fun, and adds a level of risk and reward to the game experience that quickly becomes addicting – as it can be in real life.
Derby Manager isn’t without its shortcomings, however. Being put on a “wanted list” by other users results in players not being able to race for 48 hours, which can happen when another user gets frustrated by a bad defeat or wrongly suspects cheating. It would also be nice to have some more hands-on involvement during the actual races – the strategy within the race is lost a little bit without any in-race decisions to make.
Considering it is a free-to-play game, Derby Manager (iPhone/iPad) has a lot to offer for fans of horse racing or casual management titles, a great virtual replication of the horse racing world, and a fun game for kids and adults alike to enjoy.