Horses may roam the lowly pastures of our society without a care in the world, but in gaming, they are a conduit of vast importance. They are magnificent mares that should not to be taken for granted as mere grazers of grass or postured showboaters of local gymkhanas. No, these large mammals are thrilling powerhouses built for speed, durability, and an air of bravery that places them above the heights of grandeur. No self-respecting adventure game would be complete without the noble baying of the courageous, remarkable and absolutely beneficent horse.
Agro (Shadow of the Colossus)
A horse built for speed and friendship, Agro was the favoured companion of everyone’s favourite murderer: Wander. No one knows how these two came into contact with one another, since they were as different as hay and cheese.
While Agro enjoyed cliff diving, clever stunts, and running quite quickly, Wander preferred to ceaselessly repeat the name of his horse, absorb dangerous amounts of demon worms, and to plunge his sword into every mythical creature around.
Why had Agro stayed with Wander so long? He probably had some delicious grain in his pocket. Horses love to eat grain.
Assassin’s Creed Horse (Assassin’s Creed)
Horses were an incredibly convenient form of transport in the beginning chapters of Assassin’s Creed. They were the bravest creatures in all of Masyaf, which is probably why they were placed outside of its gates, alone and undefended against the Templar threat.
There were a superb amount colours and styles available at the Masyaf stables: grey, white, brown, and black. Each had their own special abilities; for example, the white was known for its stamina, in that it could run great distances that were far too expansive (and monotonous) for anyone to travel, while the brown caused guards to attack on sight. They were all extremely useful and exciting.
It is sad to say that these wonderful breeds were of little use after memory block four, as a fast travel system was then enabled. Once again, technology has rendered these noble beasts of burden redundant. What a waste.
Baby T (Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped)
The youngest recorded horse in history, Baby T was born during a dangerous period of lava, large skeletons and giant reptilian creatures known as “dinosaurs”.
Horses at this time had little use for their forelegs, instead preferring to trundle along on their posteriors. This anatomical makeup points towards a close connection with everyone’s favourite horse: Yoshi.
Crash Bandicoot entered Baby T’s life around 100 million BC, but this relationship soon fell apart after Crash was discovered to have been riding a polar bear on the side.
Callus (The Last of Us)
Callus was extremely reluctant to leave the confines of Tommy’s dam, but eventually put his riders, Joel and Ellie, ahead of his own personal feelings of doubt and dismay. He showed fear towards the chattering of Runners, often neighing agitatedly when in their vicinity. But overall, Callus was an animal of the utmost loyalty, travelling from the dam to the snowy Lakeside Resort, a place of brutality and cannibalistic threat. He met his end at the hands of David’s men, becoming mortally wounded from a shot to the head.
Centaur (God of War III)
Kratos had a lot of anger, but if there’s one creature that would calm his temper, it would have to be the centaur. These muscular monsters may have attacked him aggressively with their pointed spears and heavy hooves, but Kratos still loved to ride them regardless. He would open his mouth wide in a hearty smile during these wondrous occasions; Kratos was never deterred.
Although he enjoyed his time with the centaurs, putting them down in the end was a necessity, due to their unruly and haphazard behaviour. The Ghost of Sparta then often mourned the dead, living life with a moody arrogance. That would of course explain his constant fury. He just wanted to be a cowboy.
Chocobo (Final Fantasy)
It isn’t very often that horses come in brighter shades, but the chocobo is one such entity; yellow is the prevalent colour among these beasts.
They are a relatively new breed, bred by the Japanese in vast feathery hordes along the country’s Pacific coast. Riding them can be a fun and exhilarating activity, but recently their numbers have dwindled, and not much amusement can be found in their company. They have been unable to find relevancy within a society that is adapting to more modern tastes.
I fear that the car may be the final nail in the chocobo’s coffin.
First-person Horse (Call of Duty: Black Ops II)
For those that dislike looking at the slender legs of lively mammals, this horse is the perfect escape from the hell that is peripheral vision.
Realism is of course an important factor for the folks over at Activision, and so they have provided their teams with the best technology available for the motion capture of the first-person horse. For the first time in existence, we have been able to view the most life-like variation of horse imaginable. Just check out that gorgeous neck.
Four Horses of the Apocalypse (Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare)
Regular horses are pretty fantastic (as if you couldn’t already tell). They can run and jump and run some more, but they are unable to set the ground aflame, defeat the undead, or rain a shower of locusts upon the dusty desert plains.
If John Marston should happen to stumble across any of the Four Horses of the Apocalypse, then he may luckily take on these abilities, becoming the most feared aspect within an already tarnished landscape, filled with the dead and rotting corpses of its inhabitants.
War, Famine, Pestilence and Death are supreme forces to be reckoned with, causing nightmarish terror throughout the world of the Old West.
Horstachio (Viva Piñata)
For many years, the donkey was the piñata of choice in many households throughout Mexico, but Horstachio changed that with his signature pink flair and well-trimmed papier-mâché bodice. He enticed hungry children and adults alike to smash him open for the delicious offerings that he had inside.
Although he is no longer with us, he frequently loved spending time in the garden, often chomping down on candy apples, bluebells and carrots. The world’s leading biologists often wondered how he was able to digest these meals, whereas paper-craft experts have abandoned this area of study due to its messy and disturbing connotations.
Invisible Horse (Farming Simulator Vita)
These horses may not be visible to the naked eye, or any eye at all in fact, but they are clearly present throughout this fantastic example of a farming simulator.
Evidence of this invisible horse is widespread. If there were no horses there, then why are there so many vacant fields? Could it be that this game is barren, dull and monotonous? Not very likely.
There is also a large amount of hay strewn about the farmlands. Horses love to eat hay. There’s no smoke without fire.
Minecraft Horse (Minecraft)
Like most animals in Minecraft, horses wander freely throughout the world, often stopping to eat grass, or to ponder philosophically at their surroundings. Little can be done to stop them from escaping their confinements, and they will sometimes roam carelessly into pools of lava.
These creatures are loveable from the get-go, making them ideal pets for any adventurer. Their loving nature can be evidenced through their feeding habits, as golden fruits and vegetables will cause them to mate with one another, and a tiny pony will be the result of this tender, blocky love.
Care must be taken with them at night however, as zombies are known to have a certain taste for their cubic flesh. Constructing a well-built stable will help to keep them secure, but it is important to provide them with plenty of carrots, for a tasty night time snack.
Race Horse (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas)
In 1992, the horse business was booming in Los Santos. They were never glimpsed outside the confines of Inside Track, the city’s only betting service, but that did not matter; the horses were doing their job: producing bucket loads of money for every layabout from Verona Beach to Red County.
These horses may have been wonderfully created from the most magnificent thoroughbreds in the state (checking out the striking image of their beauty below goes a long way towards evidencing this), but they were often given names that would make Inside Track’s customers blush, and then become violently sick, because of their risqué overtones.
Chunder Munchkin, Flaps Ahoy, Love Truncheon, and Yoghurt Cannon were just a few examples of the filth that was spawned by the heinous gambling culture of Los Santos. The company of Inside Track has since been closed down, and for that, we can all be truly thankful.
Stealth Horse (Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain)
Big Boss may have invented the cardboard box in the early 1960s, but his greatest product of them all, the Stealth Horse, was not developed until 1984; also the year of Ronald Reagan, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and Ghostbusters.
After years of having to shuffle around on the ground (MGS: Ground Zeroes alludes to this shuffling), Big Boss finally became tired of this troublesome activity, and produced a creature that would rival the chameleon in its deceptive abilities.
The horse could seamlessly spelunk its way across battlefields, shrink down below cover for added protection, and carry even the heaviest of mercenaries towards their desired target.
This product was developed by a man focused on revenge, which quickly became too much for the stealth horse. It left his company in 1985, after having a row on board Big Boss’s luxury yacht. The horse then fled into obscurity, and has not been seen since.
Yoshi (Super Mario Series)
Yoshi is probably the oldest, and most famous, horse in all of gaming. He has been the faithful steed of Mario, and his brother Linguine, since the release of their first outing, Mario’s Fun Stable, in 1985. He ran triumphantly into the hearts of gamers throughout the world with a beautifully springy step. He may be a friend of the Mario brothers, but remained solitary throughout the last years of the 20th century, occasionally coming into contact with a few small, and mushroom-shaped, horses known as Goombas.
Not much is known about the mysterious creation of Yoshi, however, one fact is certain: he is green. The strange and rare colour of the horse makes him a cherished possession throughout the known world. In most games, Mario is often seen holding onto him for dear life; a clear sign of his value. A saddle and boots are his only items of clothing.
He is also well known for producing eggs of various shapes, sizes and colours. Despite the fact that horses no longer lay eggs, like those of the 1980s, Yoshi is still considered a welcome member of the community. He will soon appear in Yoshi’s Woolly World, an indication of his recent infatuation with yarn.
Zebra (Far Cry 2)
A must-see horse for all of those that wish to enter a land full of malaria, violence and absolute boredom. These beautifully striped creatures may be fast, but their agility regularly lets them down. They are often run over by careless drivers, unable to escape the metallic touch of even the most slender vehicles.
Epona (The Legend of Zelda Series)
An undeniably original and realistic horse, Epona has been the masterfully fantastic mode of transport for the series’ well-loved elf boy, Zelda, ever since their first appearance together in The Legend of Zelda: When Will It End?
This, of course, was 2001, the year of the open-world game, and Grand Theft Auto III no less. With games becoming larger in scope, a friendly companion was needed to take that little pixie fellow on a journey through mystery, as he attempted to salvage an unnamed princess.
Have I missed any horses? Probably! File your complaints on Twitter, @scottrussell795.