Square Enix first pushed kart racing back in 1999 with Final Fantasy-themed Chocobo Racing on the original PlayStation. A pretty average attempt for all that said, the game has a few unique ideas of its own – such as a selection of special moves to choose from before the race and story modes in a cute pop-up book style to introduce its cast of characters – but, when it comes to all-important racing action, it’s flopped by a combination of engaging racetracks and imprecision in gameplay. control.
Fast forward 23 years and perhaps you can forgive us for being a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of returning to the world of Final Fantasy-inspired karts in Chocobo GP, a direct sequel to the forgettable original is considered a thorny road to development. Announced back in 2010 for the 3DS before being fully boxed in 2013 and then revived – if only in name and spirit – over the past few years.
However, Square Enix just went and proved we were all wrong in our skepticism; Contrary to all expectations, Chocobo GP is actually a bit outdated. It’s a bright and colorful kart racer that’s full of modes, unlockable characters and cosmetics, and more importantly, it delivers breathtaking action on the track with its own twists and turns. Smooth controls and big improvement in level design for some exciting chaotic races.
Let’s start things off with modes. There’s the usual selection of single and multiplayer offerings to dig into including custom and trophy races, timed attacks, local split co-op for two, and online lobbies – the latter which we were unable to access in time for this review. All of this was then bolstered by the game’s Story Mode and the Chocobo GP itself, a 64-player online knockout that saw riders compete in eight-player bouts with The top four will advance to the next stage until the rest face an epic finale. We’ve been invited to try this mode out for review purposes but unfortunately didn’t find the game during our short visit, so we’ll need to wait and see if it lives up to its promises. all there or not. Stay tuned for updates.
What we did However, managing to jump in is all single-player content here, and there’s certainly a lot to get stuck in in this regard. We started our time with Story Mode and, let’s get this out of the way early on, this is a single element in an otherwise powerful game, a complete nonsense that is obviously aiming into young children. Attempts to create oral humor here are unsuccessful and you can feel free to watch the tutorials it churns out and then skip through the rest of the tedious cutscenes to get through the Race and choose unlockable characters and tracks it rewards you for your patience. Yes, die hard Final Fantasy fans might enjoy it more than we do because it features a series of events in the history of the franchise, but the writing is awful and the cutscenes unnecessarily long, we think even the most excitable FF fans will tire of it in no time.
Still, let’s get on from here, and it’s all gravy, with the game’s Races Series offering 12 rich cups for you to beat – either solo or with a friend in screen mode split – each of these cups mixes 9 of the game’s built-in tracks, giving you super-fast, long, short, and technical variations for you to capture. The selection of tracks on offer is a huge improvement over what was served in its predecessor Chocobo GP, with names like Alexandria, Chocobo Farm, Zozo, Monster Village, and Trial of the Road. Cid, they all look great and offer plenty of shortcuts and obstacles to navigate as you grasp the smooth kart racing mechanics at the heart of the process.
Those racing mechanics, as perhaps to be expected from now on, are almost like a conquering all Mario Kart 8, with your racer being able to dash through corners to trigger two levels of level-ups, perform jumps and ramps for extra speed boosts and grab attack items from item boxes , here replaced by “Magic Eggs” containing various elemental “Magic”. Magicites give you access to fire, wind, water, and lightning attacks, as well as more imaginative vehicles, such as nifty portals that you can use to get ahead. before you race.
The Chocobo GP then complements all of this by giving each of its 23 (!) Final Fantasy characters a specialized special ability that can be deployed multiple times during the race when a gauge is at the bottom left of the screen fills up. Shiva can create a blast of frost that can freeze other players in place, such as Maduin destroying other riders as he ferociously rushes forward, Irma receiving open engines wide to play around with, and Ifrit sends a mighty wall of fire down the track to knock out any karts silly enough to place themselves directly in front of him.
Indeed, the special abilities here are a great addition to the core racing action that makes picking a character a bit more fun than just scanning the stats for speed, acceleration, and handling. their management, and as we got to grips with the game and unlocked a few more riders, we quickly found a few favorites, with the weaponization boost of Mecha Chocobo , our current attack to erase the traces of competitors. Combine all of these special abilities with the game’s Magicite items, as well as the crystals scattered around the tracks that can be collected to increase speed (and to earn store spend tickets). in the game) and you’ve got yourself races that feel like always busy and chaotic.
There is always some weapon or ability available to deploy here, always an incentive to activate or a shortcut to explode, and when playing on the harder of the two difficulty settings available at the beginning, This is also a challenging racer and surprisingly competes against AI opponents who knows exactly where and when to create an ability that knocks you down. It also removes the annoying rubber band, which means you can actually pull out of the pack if you’re using your skills properly, instead of finding yourself overtaken the second you make a small mistake. .
It also helps that the whole thing looks and sounds surprisingly impressive whether you’re playing in dock or handheld mode. Of course, Kart racers, aside from Mario Kart, may struggle a bit with frame rates and load times on the Switch, but here there are no such problems, the game serves up smooth racing action. with no discernible indication of dynamic resolution in effect to do so, delivering crystal clear visuals no matter how you choose to play.
Unfortunately we haven’t been able to practice the multiplayer aspects of this but, if netcode delivers, we think the 64 player Chocobo GP mode could be the cherry on top and the perfect accompaniment for A variety of solo and cooperative modes have been selected. Square Enix is also releasing a free “Lite” version at launch, allowing players to try out a limited number of samples of what the game has to offer with all your progress making if you then choose to roll out the full version.
It’s a move that signals a certain confidence in the game, and it’s confidence that’s not misplaced – we assume the Chocobo GP is up there with the best kart racers available on Switch. No, we can’t believe we’re saying that either. It’s a slick and addictive endeavor full of modes and with a great cast of great characters and some stellar soundtracks for you to grasp. With more characters, including the likes of Cloud Strife, due to come with the game’s paid season tickets, and we’re sure there will be more races and other online events, here’s a hand race to which we will stick in the near future.
The Chocobo GP is a pleasant surprise from Square Enix, an ingenious and addictive endeavor serving up chaotic kart racing action with a generous roster of Final Fantasy characters battling it out on race tracks. Good design inspired by locations in the history of the franchise. Yes, the story mode can be a bit off-putting, but with plenty of other single-player content to explore and the promise of 64-player carnage through the online Chocobo GP mode, this is one of those ball kart racers. The most exciting and fun is now available on Switch, and with a free Lite version rolling out at launch, you have nothing to lose by checking it out for yourself before you buy.