Image via Square Enix

Chocobo GP is an entertaining diversion that lacks staying power – Review

Proof that Final Fantasy can fit any genre, but it lacks enough stages to make it worthwhile.

When you think of the Final Fantasy series, you’d likely imagine an enriching world with memorable characters, exciting combat, and a story like no other. Chocobo GP makes a comedic, family-friendly spin on the franchise that is both cute and sickly sweet. Read on, kupo.

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Final Fantasy Kart

Image via Square Enix

For those who don’t know, Chocobo GP is a racing title, inspired by Mario Kart. While it does take a lot of cues from Nintendo’s work, Chocobo GP feels unique enough to stand out. Like many Final Fantasy characters before, you can use magic, but in this game, they’re used as items. You can send fireballs and ice spikes to your opponents, making them dazed or freezing them on the spot for a few seconds. Another great aspect of Chocobo GP is that you’ll be able to use new spells and characters the further you get into the story mode. The cast of characters will likely please you with 24 racers to choose from in total.

The magicka system is a neat twist on a tried-and-true genre, but Square Enix should reduce the time it takes to get back on your feet. Time and time again, I lost a race due to multiple spells hitting me near the finish line. Some of the special abilities and buffed spells act as a nasty blue shell in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as they’re close to impossible to dodge.

Gorgeous tracks, but…

Image via Square Enix

Despite being restricted to the Nintendo Switch, the colors truly pop out in Chocobo GP. The city of Alexandria from Final Fantasy IX has never looked more beautiful as it bursts into life in this kart racer. You’ll see a magnificent castle, glorified statues, and a pretty town to drive through. Every character is also pumped full of personality as they race. For example, the Chocobo delightfully looks back at the camera with excitement as it performs a trick in the air.

The special abilities like Ifrit’s Hellfire also look impressive, as a wall of fire emerges on the track ahead of him. We also like Racing Hero X’s large wheel-like beam turning as it shoots in front of him. While there’s a lot of action on screen, Chocobo GP maintains its solid frame rate throughout, even on handheld mode.

The racing itself is when it gets a little hairy. It controls fluidly as you drift around corners and maneuvering the vehicle feels great. However, some of the tracks are badly designed. Going back to Alexandria, the track is too horizontal at times, not providing smooth enough corners to go around. Meanwhile, Cid’s Test Track has twists and turns that will inevitably push players off the course, leading to frustration. While the tracks look gorgeous, Square Enix should have focused more on the track design.

A story mode for kids but has classic characters

The story mode is the meat and potatoes for those who play Chocobo GP by themselves. The writing itself is a mixed bag. There are some comical moments here and there, but the script feels skewed more towards children than adults. It’s strange because the characters featured in this game are over 20 years old. It features Final Fantasy IX’s Vivi and Steiner rather than more recent heroes like Noctis, Alphinaud, or even Lightning. Its lighthearted tone is also miles apart from the typical Final Fantasy story. Thereby, it’s somewhat refreshing for a fan of the mainline games.

Additionally, Chocobo GP has a surprisingly awesome voice cast with Erica Mendez (Hunter X Hunter, The Seven Deadly Sins) as Shirma and Cristina Vee (Sailor Moon: Eternal, Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir) as Racing Hero X, among many others. They all perform well to the vibe that Chocobo GP is going for, but the lines are uttered in an irritating manner, due to its childish tone. The story is nothing to write home about, but it will keep you entertained.

Not a lot of stuff to do

Image via Square Enix

Chocobo GP is quite short. It will take you around three hours to complete the story mode, and then there are only nine tracks to ride around. It also gives you an Extra (new game plus style) Mode that has you finish 1st place every time, and instead of unlocking characters every time, you gain alternative takes on vehicles. There is a secret at the end we won’t spoil, however.

In addition, you have a Time Attack mode but it’s not groundbreaking in any way.

Chocobo GP will likely be an entertaining diversion from a game like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe rather than a full-on rival. Hopefully, its season pass content will keep the community coming back. Otherwise, the online mode might be dead on arrival.

The music is a mixed bag. First, the main menu music will likely drive you bonkers. It’s so happy and upbeat that it can actually become irritating. The high-pitched singing matched with the obnoxious melody is where the aforementioned sickly sweet element comes in. However, some of the stage music is a different matter. Alexandria has an awesome remix of “Melodies of Life” from Final Fantasy IX. I also enjoyed the take on the “Chocobo Theme,” on Chocobo Farm, as it’s a fitting callback to the mainline series we know and love.

I haven’t been able to test the online features of the game at the time of writing, but the main mode that you’ll likely check out is the titular Chocobo GP mode. In a tournament style, players will race in rounds to determine who’s the best out of 64 competitors. It sounds exciting and there is a ranking system in place to keep you coming back for more. Once we can check out how the online system works at launch, we’ll update this review.

The verdict

Overall, Chocobo GP is a fine kart racer. Its use of magic instead of items is refreshing, and the story mode is compelling enough to keep you going until the very end. Unfortunately, some of the tracks, despite their beauty, aren’t as well designed as you would like them to be. There also aren’t enough features to keep the game interesting for a long period of time as opposed to its plumber competition.

Final Score:

7 / 10

+A delightful take on the Final Fantasy franchise’s characters and settings
+Using magic as items is a neat idea and succeeds here
+Wonderful cartoon-like graphics
Stages aren’t designed as well as you’d like in a kart racer
Brief story mode and a lack of stages makes Chocobo GP have less staying power

Gamepur team received a Nintendo Switch code for the purpose of this review.

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Chris Penwell
The British “Canadian” Chris Penwell has been a video game journalist since 2013 and now has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from MacEwan University. He loves to play JRPGs and games with a narrative.