Chocobo GP Review
The kart racer is renowned for its fast-paced, over-the-top, arcade fun. While the mustachioed plumber has been a mainstay since the early 90s, many other franchises have also jumped into miniature vehicles to dash around colorful courses. Even though the Final Fantasy series has branched out into numerous genres with its vast number of spin-offs, Square Enix has only placed the iconic characters on a racecourse once prior to Chocobo GP. After a 23 hiatus, the cute cast is back with the view to drift past its competition but will it do enough to make the podium?
Hitting the tarmac in Chocobo GP feels great. Mechanically tight, you will quickly get to grips with the frantic action and numerous systems in place. As the game doesn’t look to reinvent the wheel, for better or worse, everything feels familiar. Similar to its influences, drifting has three stages and each grants an extra boost to help you fly to the front. Due to this, there’s a lovely combo-esque philosophy that imbues races as you strive to speed and slide to the finish line.
Summon Your Powers
Items are positioned throughout to help you conquer your opponents. Each Magicite has three levels that increase its effectiveness. This adds a layer of strategy to proceedings as you must choose whether to build to the next stage through the collection of additional items or use it instantly for a quick gain. Powers are typical featuring standard fireball projectiles, freezes, shields, speed boosts and more. An exciting addition however is the ability to utilize someone else’s item. For example, one Magicite summons portals to teleport the user past competitors but as this stays open for a couple of seconds, you can also use this to thrust yourself into the lead. It’s not always beneficial though, jump into the wrong side of the portal and you’ll be sent backward.
Dotted around are crystals that you can collect to unleash a special move. Incredibly, each character has a unique ability that can drastically change your pole position. Some are the standard boosts while others have attacks that can halt the progress of your opponents. In addition to this, if you have 10 crystals in your possession, you can hit a higher top speed but be careful as one hit will topple your crystal count.
More Than A Racer
Moving off the track, Chocobo GP features a 9 chapter story mode. While the narrative is basic, the number of unlockables and missions within make this a highlight of the game. Each course has a main objective which tends to be either to win the race or finish above a certain character. Accomplishing this unlocks the next chapter and a new character that can be used in and out of the mode. As well as this, there are a number of challenges to encourage you to revisit the campaign. Completing these will grant you tickets that are used as currency to purchase characters, cars and customizable from the store. After becoming the champion, you also unlock an extra mode with even harder missions, making the story segment of the game absolutely packed with content.
Competing with friends is where kart racers shine and Chocobo GP has a ton of options for you to enjoy. Sick of all the power-ups? No problem, as you can customize races to suit your needs in traditional local and online multiplayer matches. With cups, that are labeled ‘series races’ and time trials, there are plenty of ways to experience some multiplayer madness. Massively popular in other games in the genre, the omission of a battle mode is disappointing.
The game’s most exciting online mode is the Knockout GP. Starting with 64 players, races will whittle down the competition until only 8 remain. The winner of this will take the top prize and earn seasonal rewards. While this sounds exciting, I was unable to test the net code during my time with the game. However, if this is stable, it has the potential to be the most popular mode.
Final Fantasy has spawned some of the greatest characters in the history of videogames. That’s why the lineup in Chocobo GP is a little disappointing. Sure, icons such as Steiner and Vivi appear but it seems like Square Enix has withheld certain personalities to include them as part of the seasonal rewards. With Cloud and Squall already announced to feature in the first round, I’m sure it won’t be long until Noctis and the Regalia make an appearance too.
Colorful and vibrant, the game’s family-friendly design immediately leaps off the screen. Each of the cast has had a chibi makeover which adds to its universal appeal. Levels, however, are quite conventional and lack the personality that is associated with the franchise. I would have liked the game to have been more experimental with its visuals rather than rely on conventions.
Chocobo GP is a solid kart racer that deserves your attention. Fun and frantic, the game is accessible but contains enough of a challenge for veterans. Although there is a notable absence of a battle mode, there is still plenty of content for on and offline play. Clearly leaning into its influences with the mechanics and aesthetics, the game doesn’t push the boundaries but is successful in its goal of being a charming and joyous racer.
*** A Nintendo Switch key provided by the publisher ***
- Loads of Unlockables
- Tight Mechanics
- Leveled Items
- A Bit Too Conventional
- No Battle Mode
- Missing Iconic Characters