For Want Of A Horse, The Game Was Lost

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Nice article, one tiny nitpick: Agro is a mare.


Ocarina of Time, as an SNES game...


You've lost all credibility.

Quite indeed. I was going to give him another chance but then he started calling Agro a "He".

Agro is female.


Female damn it!

Nice article, one tiny nitpick: Agro is a mare.

Thank you you ninja!

This has definitely put a lot of things in perspective for me as a player. I usually never bothered too much with the aspect of NPCs and player interaction with more than just the story and the world, it really started to become more of an issue for me when I began playing the "Mass Effect" series. That was the first time (whether by my perception or the game causing me notice) that I felt the desire to spend even more time communicating with the NPCs around me than actually "playing the game" Honestly I spent more time in loading screens going between the Normandy's decks than going between action sequences.

Anyways, I digress.

All in all, I am grateful for your honesty and this article for being able to bring what most would see as a base game mechanic into the light of a potential point of characterization and interaction as a player that many would overlook.

Female damn it!

I've heard of people saying Agro is female for a while now, but I NEVER see any sources...EVER. Even on Google I've been looking for anything that confirms Agro's sex and found nothing. Wikipedia does not count. People say it says in the manual, but I have it for PS2 and PS3 and Agro is always put in a gender neutral way as "Agro" or "your horse" (I heard the the Japanese don't have female/male pronouns like we do, so that might be it. It might've led to Ammy's sex-swap in Okamiden). Any interviews? Exact quotes from official material? Show it to me and from now on I'll call Agro a mare. All I've been given is rumors, things that just aren't true, and Wikipedia. Agro sounds like a very masculine name, which is why so many people consider Agro to be male("agro" as in "aggression", or if you switch the letters to Argo it sounds like Jason's ship in Greek mythology that carried the Argonauts, his mostly male team).

Nice Article. Pointing out the best examples with Agro and the Mounts in RDR.
I think Agro's independent behaviour and Character even got me to enjoy RDR in a much more immersive way, because it's the only Game that came close to characterise Horses almost as well as with Agro.

I played through the entire Game just with the Mount you get from Bonnie (pretty much at the Beginning)!

In a way forcing a similar emotional bond with it like in Shadow of the Colossus into the Game.
(named her Xtina,because of blond mane with dark hair-ends ;-P)

Easily made the Game about 5hours longer,because of Missions I restarted when she died (naturally I was quite paranoid of cougars).
After her first death (mission in a canyon with a house - after shooting bout dozens of enemies - whistle for xtina,which i didn't know got out of the canyon in the meantime - suddenly she falls within 5feet in front of me from the sky, because she apparently took the direct route towards my whistle off the cliff - in "shock" i pressed a button just to do something - ended up skinning her by accident -looking at my dead,skinned trusty steed :-0) I played on for a short while,but my immersion having another horse(even same breed)just wasn't the same and it collided with the story I kinda wanted to be told within this Game by that point- so i loaded and replayed the mission.
At last I even ended up doing the last mission with Jack Marston riding with her (after the cut-scene when you play Jack there's a different horse, but I safed and next morning i whistled and suddenly Xtina came galloping towards him- oddly enough that made me sooo happy)- trusty steed from father to son.

Conclusion: It's amazing how well-made NPC's can enlighten a gaming-experience (and i don't even care much about horses in real life)

Definitely another really interesting article.

I can't really say anything about Agro, as I haven't played Shadow of the Colossus. However, I do agree that games that do try to go for that greatly immersive effect should, if they can, try to make the most subtle elements of their game alive. It sounds like Agro seemed to be one of those little details that helped make the game feel so alive, adding to the immersion that apparently makes it so popular with the entire Escapist community.

And I do agree that the Red Dead Redemption horses, while purely mechanical in their utilization (and, given how you could summon it at will, fairly disposable), still had those little details that made them stand out. Horses in the wild, in particular, were really good examples of them, as they did roam about in the wild acting like... well... horses. Granted, once you broke them, they succumbed to your will and came at the slightest whistle, and wouldn't abandon you even if you pissed off Khan and an entire pack of cougars, so it's not exactly the 'best' showing of this immersive dynamic, but it's somewhere up there.

I simply can't stand the horses in Sky Rim, they have two speeds, walk and canter. where's my trot? where's my rising trot? Where's my Gallop based on an endurance bar?

I also can't stand horses in assassins creed, but I love them in Red Dead, though I didn't have the issue with the desaddling, "Woman; I just moved 10 tonnes of that crap after I mucked out the stables while you spent 6 hours giving walking tours with a bunch of less-than-novices you just over charged, you can do this for me, I'm going home. See ya Blacklight".

I also can't stand riding motorbikes in games. THEY DO NOT HANDLE LIKE THAT... what i have notice is that when ever I see Niko Belec getting on a bike I want to slap him for not doing his pre ride check... A Ninja is just as much of a living entity as an Australian Stock Horse or a Gypsy Cob.

And the advantage of a Ninja is that your coven doesn't want to sacrifice it on a Sabbat.

A very valid point, for the same reason I hate dogmeat in fallout 3 but love my dog in fable. The fable dog is a dog bouncing and bounding all over the place but dogmeat just stands there panting like an excited sex offender.

This article was done much better (though I guess without a rider perspective) here :

EDIT: Actually, that wasn't the article I was looking for. I know there's a really kick ass article that focused on immersion and narrative design around a comparison between Epona and Agro, but I can't find it. That one I linked is kinda stating the obvious more than anything.

I didn't like having my horse die in Skyrim, I had to reload every time it died. The most annoying parts where when you fast travel and there is a dragon waiting for you so you can't really avoid it. I did try to park the horse a bit away from the action but it kept running back in there.

Alright! Video games can successfully get horses to act like horses. Now if they could only get people to act like people we'd be getting somewhere....

Agro maoes the word brohoof a lot more relevant.

Lighting's horse Odin in Final Fantasy 13 does a hell of alot. He is your most powerful weapon, can transform into a giant robot dude and is also in almost every important battle cutscene. Hes the thing i remember most from the game in a way.

Conrad Young:
Lighting's horse Odin in Final Fantasy 13 does a hell of alot. He is your most powerful weapon, can transform into a giant robot dude and is also in almost every important battle cutscene. Hes the thing i remember most from the game in a way.

Actually it's the other way round. The bipedal humanlike Odin is the default look, rather than horse first. Plus you don't actually manually ride Odin barring some attacks.

Agro is easily the best horse in all of gaming, and not just because he's intelligent enough to not just run into a wall without you telling it specifically not to. That horse is the very definition of altruism. He doesn't need to be there, there is no real reason why he hauls Wander around a barren, lifeless wasteland so that he can charge into battle against creatures that could crush him with their pinkie finger, but he does it anyway because he legitimately cares about you. Even after sacrificing himself so that you don't plunge to your death, he just shrugs off a broken leg, allegedly climbs out of a ditch, walks across the wasteland, and when he finally returns to the temple the only thing he cares about is making sure that that girl is accommodated for. This is a horse that would drag you out of Satan's mouth, get his back half bitten off, and, assuming he was capable, drag you all the way back to the temple with just his forelegs before digging his own grave.

Why do people care about Epona again?

I want to hug your comment a lot.

It's exactly how I feel.


It did so by putting them in the mindset of "a lead guitarist." You weren't imitating the skills in any meaningful way (though Guitar Hero and Rock Band games can do wonders for folks looking to develop rudimentary drum set technique), but you were "acting like the guitarist."

I mean, when a kid pretends to be a fighter pilot, he's not worrying about fuel or G-forces, he never runs out of bullets or deploys flaps... he's not realistically portraying a pilot, but he's sure in the mindset of one.

Actually, a guitar Hero game is probably a great way to get a kid to understand some of the basics without even knowing it. There's a reason it took a team largely comprised of musicians to make this concept work.

But then, by the logic presented here, doesn't it nullify the initial concept, since most games will "put you in the mindset" in that broad a sense? And therefore, is an "NPC horse" necessary for John Martson's travails to seem real to people? When people talk about what drew them into the game or put them off it, I doubt the horse's personality mattered much. I've seen many more people complain about the way the horses controlled.


I'll tell you what bothers me more than anything: When actors are playing instruments or conducting ensembles, and they're not even remotely doing it right. Seriously, give me 10 minutes with these people, and I'll give you a pro-quality "faker" that's fit for the big screen. It's not that hard.

See, I don't really get this. I'm a musician. I've spent 20 years on an ensemble instrument and around ten on guitar and keys. While I notice when someone doesn't do it right, that's about it. It doesn't pull me out and it doesn't change anything. I don't see how it really changes anything in terms of the movie/whatever.

No more than proper bowmanship is necessary in a movie about big green guys who can destroy the laws of physics and guys in super suits with unlimited Mcguffin power. I don't get why improper bow technique or conducting is in any way worse than SPACE MAGIC! and the wonders of Element Zero or any other science dodge.

Alright! Video games can successfully get horses to act like horses. Now if they could only get people to act like people we'd be getting somewhere....

Pfft. I defy you to demonstrate to me how that would improve immersion.

Where does the author say Ocarina of Time is a(n) SNES game?

Also, Argo is confirmed by the game to be male, as per this screen shot of the tutorial:

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