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You may be surprised to learn Imagine: Champion Rider is not very well written. The protagonist doesn’t display any character growth, there’s a love interest in the first act but it’s immediately forgotten about in the second, the only character with a dramatic arc is Carla and her redemption from horse torturing bad arse to loving pussy happens almost entirely off screen. Worst of all your goal for most of the game is to win the Legend’s Cup but upon scoring the trophy you immediately trade it for some horse medications that don’t even work. Instead of feeling like the character has learnt a life lesson about some things being more important than winning she’s just left looking like an idiot.
So Ubisoft here’s a little script doctoring free of charge, throw me enough money and I’ll totally fix the inevitable sequel too.
Quick note before I begin, I’m not suggesting that what will follow is literature, but it should be about on par with a typical tween marketed Disney movie, which is the level of storytelling this game should be aiming for.
Let’s start with Carla she’s the only character with a dramatic arc so she should be the protagonist. I get that her private school uniform and emo make up don’t really hit your target demographic so instead just make her look like the current main character and tone down some of her cartoon villainy.
What I’m suggesting is the player character should start the game obsessed with capturing the Legend’s Cup no matter the cost. This doesn’t have to be presented as a bad thing, just explain that her dead mother always dreamed of winning the cup before she suffered a fatal horse riding accident. Don’t make this known at the beginning though, drop hints but save the full story for a later dramatic reveal.
This is the love interest, at the moment you’ve got him as a vanilla clean cut goody two shoes. I think this is the wrong approach. If Twilight teaches us anything it’s that chicks dig aloof bastards with a heart of gold. To begin with the boy gives the cold shoulder to the main character because he doesn’t understand her obsession with capturing the Legend’s Cup. For all his gruffness he shares a special connection with horses and is a talented horse whisperer. He also really wants to save the rare endangered mustangs that live in the valley.
The game begins when the player’s character is sent by her father to live on his friend’s ranch to help prepare her for the competition. Upon getting there she meets the boy and learns about the rare mustangs. She rides, trains and experiences awkward moments with the boy where she can’t be sure if he wants to fight her or freak her. Maybe she even wins her first qualifying round.
Then we hit the first act turn, the mares go sterile putting the rare mustangs in jeopardy of extinction. The boy is desperate and turns to the main character for help. Initially she is unsure, after all she still needs to win the Legends Cup but is eventually convinced that she can juggle both responsibilities. So the second act is spent collecting wild flowers, investigating the mare’s sterility and training for the big day. While all this is happening the boy and her grow closer, he teaches her how to horse whisper and she gives him some pointers on riding. It becomes clear that they’re falling in love.
Then the night before the Legend’s Cup we get the second act turn. The boy wakes the player from her sleep to tell her about a new lead he has in the mare’s sterility case but they have to leave tonight. The player character explains that the Legend’s Cup is tomorrow and she needs to win it. There’s an argument, the player character’s big secret is revealed but the boy is unmoved. With or with out her he’s leaving tonight. Their love looks on the rocks.
The next day the player competes in the Legend’s Cup performing excellently. But just before the final event she is is given a message, the boy’s horse has returned to the ranch but the boy is nowhere to be seen. Suddenly the player character realises that saving the boy is more important than the Legend’s Cup and races off to find the him.
Eventually she finds him lying on some rocks with a broken leg. He fell off his horse the big dope. The player character is over joyed to see him and leans in for the big kiss but just before they make contact the boy sees something. It’s a mare and it’s pregnant, holy shit. Then they notice that it’s eating some special wild flowers, could that be the cure? Clearly it is but they race off to the ranch to find out. When they get there the player character learns that because she forfeited the final event she has lost the Legend’s Cup though a bit sad she accepts that it was worth it to save the horses.
But the moment she learns her big lesson the actual winner of the competition arrives trophy in hand and declares that she feels her victory has been tainted because she didn’t face off against the top competition. As a matter of honour she challenges the player character to a winner takes all mano-a-mano horse off. The boy tells her it’s fine, to go do it for her mother. So the player competes and wins. Afterwards the boy tells her that the tests results are back and the mares are saved. The player character is overjoyed and kisses the boy. There is a slightly awkward moment before he kisses her back and there you go. She’s got the trophy, the boy and she learnt a life lesson to boot.
This shit is really not that hard. It’s called structure, use it.
Next: Final Thoughts