Features

Hands-on with Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure on iPad

Horses for courses

Hands-on with Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure on iPad

Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure is a game designed by Ryan Creighton and his five-year-old daughter Cassie at the Toronto Game Jam.

I don’t mean Cassie sat on Ryan's knee while he made a game: I mean she drew the graphics, recorded half the dialogue, and basically created the story, too. The proceeds are reportedly going towards her college fund.

It’s the story of a girl going off to find different coloured Ponycorns (they’re a cross between a pony and a unicorn, in case that isn't clear) and trap them in jars.

As in a point-and-click adventure, you tap on the screen to interact and move, while an inventory lets you use the two items that you pick up throughout the game.

Over the course of ten minutes, you’ll walk through rainbow doors, throw a coconut at an Evil Lemon, and turn a dragon into a mouse. All of the dialogue is voiced by the winningly cute Cassie.

But...

Part of the reason the game managed to get a cult following over on PC wasn’t because it was necessarily a great game, but because it was unique and (this is important) free.

With no real barrier to entry, a tear-jerkingly adorable backstory, and genuinely unique presentation, it was a veritable goodwill electromagnet, earning praise from Kotaku, Rock Paper Shotgun, G4TV, Time, and others.

But when you break it down, Sissy isn’t really a game. There are no puzzles, and it's all over in about ten minutes.

It would be easy for App Store browsers to glance at the enviable set of recommendations in the iTunes description and think they're in for a substantial point-and-click adventure.

In fact, they're paying for the brief spectacle of a child's ramblings brought to life, and contributing to the author's further education.

Does that mean you shouldn't buy it? That depends on what you want. As a gift from a loving father to his daughter, Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure is superb. It’s lovingly crafted and captures the delight and wonder of a child, brought to life with funny, surreal, and off-the-wall characters.

But if you buy it expecting a real game, no amount of innocent wonder will keep you from feeling a little bit disappointed.