Back in 1999 on the PlayStation, Square dipped their toes into the kart racing genre with Chocobo Racing, a quaint little game with some unique ideas but ultimately was only remembered as the Final Fantasy kart racer. Over 20 years later, Square Enix has graced us with the spiritual sequel, Chocobo GP. In this game, a mysterious racer has announced a grand racing tournament, with the winner being granted one wish. Join Chocobo and his friends on their journey to compete for a chance at fulfilling their deepest desires while making new friends along the way.
Chocobo GP’s controls are simple and easy to pick up. The controls and general game feel is very similar to Mario Kart 8. You get a boost at the start by holding accelerate when the countdown hits two; the longer you drift, the stronger your boost is after it; and you can do tricks at the end of ramps for an extra boost of speed. If you’ve ever played Mario Kart before, this will feel very natural.
Chocobo GP has a unique item system. Each item you can pick up on the track is based on iconic spells from Final Fantasy like Fire, Blizzard, Shell, etc. What sets it apart from other kart racers is that you can hold three items at a time and if you happen to pick up a duplicate item, it will upgrade it at the cost of taking up one of your item slots. This leads to some very interesting decision-making on the track; do you use the spell now to get ahead of the racer directly in front of you or do you hold out in hopes of upgrading it to devastate multiple racers.
One last thing Chocobo GP has to set itself apart from other kart racers is that each playable character has a unique skill they can use when filling up a skill gauge; the further behind you are the faster the gauge will fill. Because of this, there is now another layer of decision-making when picking a character to play, other than just looking at their stats. Do you want a skill that boosts your speed, an offensive skill to make sure no one gets ahead of you or a defensive skill so no one can touch you and you can keep driving at your leisure? There’s a lot to consider!
- Easy to understand controls
- Unique item mechanics
- Each playable character has unique skills
Square Enix is notorious for adding bad Live Service models into their games and Chocobo GP is no different. The second you boot up the game, you are assaulted with messages showing you deals on the game’s microtransactions and what to spend them on. At the time of writing this review, the game is currently on its first season which has Final Fantasy 7’s Cloud Strife unlockable as a playable racer; if you want to unlock him for free, you will have to reach level 60 in the seasonal pass (which will take weeks of non-stop grinding) or you can just pay 20 bucks to start at level 60 and unlock him immediately. If you thought paying up would mean you skip the grind, then you are sorely mistaken as each season pass has 200 levels to them; so if you paid to unlock Cloud, then you still have 140 to grind out for cosmetics and various vehicle variations, with each level needing more and more points to achieve. Square Enix wants this to be a second job for players.
Chocobo GP has a very small number of tracks, only having nine in total. The game makes up for this by having multiple variations on these tracks but in doing so, all it does is emphasise how little tracks the game has. That being said, this is a Live Service game, so they may add new tracks in the future.
It’s never fun getting hit with an item just as you’re about to win a race - in the kart racing community, we call that “Getting Mario Karted”. In Chocobo GP, this feels significantly worse than other kart racers because of how long it takes to recover from being hit. Depending on which character you choose, it can take anywhere between three to five whole seconds to recover. I’ve lost count how many races I was ahead by half a lap, only to get hit by something right at the end and take so long to recover that the rest of the racers were able to catch up and hit me again and cause me to lose.
- Disgustingly grindy Live Service model
- Very little track count
- Recovering from hits takes too long
Final Score: 4/10
At its core, Chocobo GP is a decent kart racer with some good ideas that need a few tweaks but is ultimately brought down by corporate greed. The aggressively grindy Live Service model completely eradicates any desire I have to keep playing. I feel so bad for the people who have been waiting for a follow-up to Chocobo Racing only to get this.
Thank you for checking out our Chocobo GP Switch review, thank you to Square Enix (via Nintendo AU/NZ) for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: