Reviews

Driftin’ Into the Deep End – Chocobo GP (Switch) – Review

On March 10th, 2022 – Square Enix released their racing title “Chocobo GP” exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. Is Chocobo GP a worthwhile purchase for racing fans, or should they drive in the other direction?


The Basics

Chocobo GP is a racing game, featuring several Final Fantasy characters and tracks. The game’s basics are pretty simple, allowing the player to accelerate, brake, drift and use items on the tracks. Drifting in corners builds up “sparks”, which result in a temporary speed boost after letting go. The longer the player drifts, the bigger the speed boost.

Additionally players can make use of items to gain an advantage over their opponents. Some items give players a speed boost, some act as defensive items, and others as defensive. Items can be stacked up to pairs of 3, so use them wisely. Additionally, stacking 2 of the same item will reward the player with a stronger version of that item.

Lastly, each character has a special ability that can be activated once their gauge meter is full. Collect gems on the track to fill it. These specials act very much like items, primarily giving speed boosts, defensive capabilities, or offensive ones.

Modes

Chocobo GP comes with a variety of gameplay modes, most notably a story mode. In this dialogue driven mode players go through 9 chapters to prove their strength. Aside from some cheesy dialogue and pretty standard races, there isn’t too much to say about story mode. But it does help to unlock all tracks in the game for free play, as well as unlock every character, including a secret character if you beat it on Extra Mode.

Story mode requires you to place in front of a specific character (Easy mode) or finish 1st in each race (Extra mode). The CPU isn’t particularly difficult to beat in either mode, however the constant flow of items is likely to mess you up quite a bit. Although chaos can be rather fun when playing casually with friends, it might be annoying for some players who just want to progress the story.
Luckily players are never set back more than 1 race, and most tracks are not long at all, ranging between 1-2 minutes each.

Additional modes include Grand Prix, Free Play and Online Play. The online play works, and can be some fun, but it gets tiring rather quickly. I much preferred playing local co-op with a friend or two. There is also an in-game store where you can redeem rewards to unlock goodies, as well as spend real money.

Content

In terms of the amount of content, Chocobo GP is rather lacking. There are only 21 tracks, and only 8 of these are unique, with the other 13 being variants of existing tracks. There are currently 26 unlockable characters, all of which can be unlocked through regular gameplay, but Unlocking Cloud Strife and Squall Leonheart requires a massive grind.

Playing through the game’s story and completing objectives earns the player tickets, which can be exchanged for characters, karts and customization options in the shop, giving some incentive to replay missions and try harder difficulties.

These can optionally be bought from the in-game store for real money, cutting out much of the grind, but remember that this is on top of an already $50 game and doesn’t add much to the overall experience.

A competitor?
Whenever racing titles on Nintendo Switch are brought up, the first thing to come to most people’s minds is “Mario Kart” – being one of Nintendo’s long-lasting and beloved series. Although I don’t think it’s entirely fair to compare 2 games from a completely different series, the gameplay elements are similar enough to draw some comparison.

So how does Chocobo GP stack up to Mario Kart? Well…I’m afraid not all too well. The lack of unique tracks on its own singlehandedly kills that opportunity. More tracks obviously does not equate a better game, but many of the tracks in Chocobo GP just feel bland, without much to do in them. Gold Saucer was personally a highlight for me, as not only does it visually stand out from the rest of the tracks, it’s also the only track to include shortcuts – small tricks more skilled players can pull of to get an edge.

That’s not to say Chocobo GP doesn’t bring good things to the table. One of its items opens up a rift letting drivers skip a small part of the track, but others who drive in that rift’s exit get sent back! Additionally each character having its own special gives players more reason to try out different characters.

In the end though, Mario Kart still outshines Chocobo GP in most aspects, but perhaps over time we might see that line get closer?

Verdict

Chocobo GP is a charming racing game revolving around some of the Final Fantasy characters. Unfortunately, its issues – primarily the lack of content and grindy nature of the game – hold it back from being as great as it could be.

There are things Chocobo GP does right, and there is definitely fun to be had – but if you are planning on playing this solo, I can’t recommend spending more than $20 on the game.

If you wish to see more Chocobo GP, refer to our playlist:

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