Image via Cygames

How to Play Umamusume: Pretty Derby

With Cygames announcing an official English localization of Umamusume: Pretty Derby, the popular gacha game will finally be available for a Western audience. But what in the world is it and how do you play it? This guide will break down the different modes of Umamusume: Pretty Derby, as well as provide a general overview of how to play.

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So what’s it about?

story mode
This is from the main story. Screenshot by Siliconera

Umamusume: Pretty Derby takes place in a sort of bizarre setting in which horses don’t exist. Instead, they’re horse girls, who are modeled after real-life race horses. In the Umamusume world, they’re a combination between an athlete and an idol.

Technically speaking, they’re like reincarnations of these horses. However, some of the horses, such as Gold Ship, are still alive in our world. In the game, you (a human) take on the role of a horse girl’s trainer, with the exact relationship dynamic differing depending on the character. Aside from main shared scenarios, each horse girl also has a character-specific story focusing on their unique goals and rivalries.

Most of the horses are ones who have participated in Japanese races such as the Arima Kinen. Though the story at launch focuses on the Japanese racing industry during the late 1990’s, some of the newer stories and horse girls feature horses from the 2000s.

What are the different modes in Umamusume: Pretty Derby?

There are three main story modes in Umamusume: Pretty Derby. They are:

  • Story Mode: There is a main story focusing on particular races and episodes from Japanese horse racing history. Once you pull a character from the gacha, you can also unlock their character-specific story. These generally have around seven chapters each, giving you a more detailed version of their stories from Training Mode.
  • Training Mode: This is the main bulk of the game. In this mode, you choose a horse girl you want to train and guide her through her years at Tracen Academy. As mentioned earlier, each scenario has a main story and each horse girl also has her own unique story. Some scenarios, such as “Project L’Arc,” have a more unique setting or approach. In these stories, character-specific scenarios will not trigger, meaning that if you’re interested in a particular horse girl’s story, you might want to clear another scenario with her first.
  • Race Mode: Of course, since these are horse girls based on real-life race horses, it stands to reason that racing is a large part of the game. There are daily and limited-time races to enter, including a PvP tournament. Like the PvP mode in Fire Emblem: Fates, you go up against an AI-controlled version of someone else’s team rather than duking it out in real time. These races can net you awards like money.

How do you raise your horse girl?

Training Mode, which will be where you spend most of your time in Umamusume: Pretty Derby, is very similar to other training simulation games. In scenarios where you can play through character-specific events, each horse girl has a number of set goals she wants to achieve. For example, some want to win specific races or reach a certain threshold of fans. If you don’t complete these tasks before the deadline, the game will end. After each race, there is a live concert you can watch. If your horse was in first place, she gets to be the center.

umamusume umapyoi

Aside from raising parameters and obtaining skills, there is an element of breeding if you want to make a strong horse girl. Every time you start a training scenario, you have to choose two horse girls to serve as dams for your new one. You can obtain potential dams by clearing a scenario with them and putting them in your paddock. Depending on RNG and factors like compatibility, you’ll get bonus stats during the training story, as well as access to unique skills your horse girl otherwise can’t use. Training up the perfect horse girl starts even before you step into Tracen Academy.

Umamusume: Pretty Derby is readily available in Japan on mobile devices and the Windows PC. The English version is in development.

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Stephanie Liu
Stephanie is a senior writer who has been writing for games journalism and translating since 2020. After graduating with a BA in English and a Certificate in Creative Writing, she spent a few years teaching English and history before fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming a writer. In terms of games, she loves RPGs, action-adventure, and visual novels. Aside from writing for Siliconera and Crunchyroll, she translates light novels, manga, and video games.