Though I was an avid Sega Genesis player back in the day, I didn’t play Crystal’s Pony Tale until I was in my twenties. One day, I was reminiscing with online game emulators and randomly came across this cute little game with its My Little Pony-style cover art and charming title. I’m not sure why I have never played this game before. It probably was not offered at the game rental places I used as a kid, so I didn’t know about it until later in life.
Crystal’s Pony Tale is a side-scroller with easily solved puzzles. It’s a simple and fast play-through: you can beat the entire game in less than fifteen minutes. I’ve beaten this game countless times just to pass the time.
The controls feel a little stiff, but they aren’t bad. The controls include two special actions and jumping. The special action seems to be the same for both A and B buttons. The special action is rearing back and neighing. If you’re in a puzzle spot, the special action will change to a different action, such as digging the ground, pulling a cart, unlocking a box, and so on. You can also use the special action to eat apples. The apples then turn into lollipops!
In this game, you play as Crystal the pony. Crystal must rescue her fellow pony friends from an evil mage who has kidnapped them. You rescue your friends by solving puzzles. This consists of acquiring shapes and keys, and bribing other animals to assist you.
Collecting horseshoes along the way gives you health and access to new levels. Similar to Sonic the Hedgehog with his rings, you lose some horseshoes if you get hit by an enemy. If you lose all your horseshoes, a narrator empathetically says, “Try again!” and the level restarts. Whenever you succeed to a new level, the narrator says encouragingly, “Good job!” Maybe this was the inspiration for Bejeweled’s infamous deep-voiced narrator.
Overall, the game’s visuals are very cartoony and fantasy-themed. There are pretty ponies, beautiful backgrounds, star-covered boxes of prizes. The game’s soundtrack consists entirely of MIDI classical music.
Crystal’s horsey movements are well-done, ranging from short trots to a smooth canter with “clop clop” sounds, majestic broad leaps, and hesitant “Whoa there!” rearing back motions.
You can customize Crystal’s colors! Customizing your own character is a big incentive for me to play a game. It is one reason I like MMORPGs so much. I usually make her purple with pink mane and tale.
After you beat the game, you gallop down a rainbow collecting hearts and lollipops. You then have a big pony party in a castle with all your pretty pony friends. Good job!
Crystal’s Pony Tale is charming, pretty, and very easy to play while drunk, tired, and/or sad. I give it four and a half out of five sparkly unicorns!
J.M. Bates is the author of Brilliant Shadows, a poetic fantasy novella with a diverse cast, magical graffiti, and creatures that give people supernatural abilities. Recommend pretty sparkly games at @jam_bub.