Pocket Card Jokey: Ride On! is a strange game. Part horse racing, part solitaire, and part animal breeding, it’s an amalgamation of things I would usually find incredibly mundane. Like seriously mundane. Like plain toast without butter. Still, somehow, you put these three things together, add some quirky characters, get those mechanics tighter than Secretariat’s saddle, and you’ve got a game I just can’t put down.
For context, the original version of this title arrived on Nintendo 3DS in 2013, courtesy of iconic Pokémon developer Game Freak, and has long been something of a cult icon among Nintendo fanatics. Still, with the 3DS lurching towards obscurity, it looked as if Pocket Card Jockey could have been a thing of the past before too long, but now, with the title available on Apple Arcade, a whole new generation can enjoy the thrill of solitaire horse racing. No, really, there is a thrill, I promise.
The basic premise in Ride On is simple, you rent a horse from an established owner, you race that horse by completing two-to-five rounds of solitaire that equate to a racing course, and once that horse reaches three losses at full maturity, you retire it and ride a new one. Horses aren’t retired forever though, not in any ghoulish tarpaulin-on-the-track way with the loud crack of a gunshot, they go to this game’s equivalent of the Pokémon daycare centre where they can be paired with mates to produce a new filly wunderkind.