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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

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by Squaresoft

Ups:Great kart racer; multiplayer action; FF characters; graphics.

Downs:Not entirely original; story mode a bit subpar.

System Reqs:
Sony PlayStation, memory card.

gp1b.jpg (5583 bytes)Imagine all of your favorite characters from Final Fantasy done up as cartoons. You have the black mage, the white mage, behemoth and others to race with in Chocobo Racing. This game not only has the ability to appeal to kids, but it’ll also keep adults entertained. Of course, how can you not be entertained by a game where you get to go head-on with your friends, while using weapons to knock them off the track? This is that type of game; it’s great for group play and has a nonsensical atmosphere. The staple of this game is fun and lots of it.

vs1b.jpg (4981 bytes)To start, there are various options you have to choose from: Grand Prix, Story Mode, Relay Race, Time Attack and Versus. Don’t get your hopes up, because the story mode isn’t that enticing. It tracks the misadventures of Chocobo, but is still kind of bland in depth. The chapters are presented as a pop-up storybook, which I found rather creative. But, the true metal of the game is the Grand Prix mode. And, like other carts out there, the tracks you race on are in different areas of the FF world. Some of the cooler tracks are The Black Manor, a haunted house with nasty corners and cool jumps, or Moogle Forest, because it’s simple and you can bulk up on points. While it’s best to start out on the easier tracks and work your way to the more difficult ones, the appeal of this game is the combination of hard and easy, which requires you to be a practiced player.

gp2b.jpg (5173 bytes)The game boasts eight tracks. The great thing is that some of the tracks, like Vulcan-O Valley (watch for that corner right before the finish line—it’s a doozy), are hard when you first hit them, but after doing so many laps you come to memorize the sharp corners and places where you can drop off into oblivion. Another great feature of this game is that instead of choosing one track then racing, you choose four tracks to race on, making it easier to win the Grand Prix tournament. Also, I find it a pain in the ass to keep selecting a track after every three laps, and Chocobo Racing relieves that pain. One recommendation I have is to allow the computer to randomly select the tracks you’ll be on. This gives you more variety in difficulty than if you were to select them yourself. I also found that I was avoiding certain tracks, but with the randomizer I was able to get practice on tough courses.

vs3b.jpg (5095 bytes)The art that goes along with your racing experience is what you would expect from Squaresoft. You have a really cool FMV at the beginning and then slip into nicely designed tracks and racers. One gripe I do have is the lack of expansion on Squaresoft’s part. After watching them revamp the RPG industry with FFVII and the upcoming FFVIII, I was kind of expecting something other than the norm. Unfortunately, the tracks and the whole game resonates with that same ol’ feel of other karts out there. But, it’s still nice to see this genre make it over to the Playstation.

One game you’re going to think of when you sit down in front of Chocobo Racing is Mario Kart. I must answer, yes, this game is strikingly similar, just with a few tweaks here and there, but don’t be complain that this is a rip-off. Yeah, it might be, but still it’s nice to have a game like this on the Playstation; really, I haven’t seen anything like it yet. You do have your racing games, but how many are as fun and kid oriented as Chocobo Racing? None.

story1b.jpg (17589 bytes)Let’s discuss limit breaks. For all FF players you may skip this section. Essentially, a limit break is a skill that builds up during the course of combat. When you’re meter hits full and begins to blink you’re allowed to use your special ability. In Chocobo Racing, you select which ability you want to have after you’ve selected your character. These can range from "dash," which speeds you up for a bit, to "grip-up," which basically makes it easier to take sharp corners. There are a total of eight of these abilities to choose from and assign to your racer. You also have weapons in this game, which are akin to the ones found in Mario Kart, but with Chocobo they come in the form of magic, like fireballs or sheets of ice on the road. It becomes essential to learn which weapons are good and to avoid the nasty ones like death.

story3b.jpg (18192 bytes)One quality of this game that appeals to me is the Final Fantasy spin-off. If you’re into the FF series, then you’ll most likely recognize the characters. There are eight to choose from. Since each racer comes from a different area of the FF world, certain ones will be superior or inferior on certain tracks. To those out there wondering, yes there’s a way to get Cloud. The great thing is that you don’t need to know anything about the FF universe to enjoy the game; it’s independent of its cousins.

Chocobo Racing wins in my book as an excellent addition to any video game library. The music is nice, melodic and non-obtrusive. The game control is fluid. It doesn’t take much to get used to racing and using your weapons or limit breaks. Kids will love this game. And, I must say, I love it, too. It’s a friend game that is well worth the dough.

--Matt Baldwin