Playing catch-up is rare for Square EA, the RPG pioneer, but mascot racers are a far cry from role-playing games. As a result, Chocobo Racing stumbles in the tire treads of Mario Kart for the Nintendo 64.
Chocobo's hook is the opportunity to race famous Square characters such as Chocobo the bird creature and Cloud Strife from the Final Fantasy series. The spotty gameplay, however, focuses more on weapon strategy than road racing, creating frustrating outcomes. Plus, the graphics and sounds need gas. The track designs are bland, and the character sprites contain violent pixelization. Moreover, phenomenal opening full-motion video cut-scenes give way to goofy pop-up-book storytelling. which suffers from a lack of character voices. Only Chocobos nerve-snapping chirp stands out amongst the cliche sound effects and candyland score.
Chocobo Racing's a decent choice if you're looking for a benign racer and can't wait for the final verdict on Crash Team Racing (for more info, see "Sneak Previews" this issue), but it provides little personality and no innovation.
- In Story mode, the battle will be lost or won with crystals.
- Even when In front, use the Speed Charge as an acceleration de-vice-it doesn't have to be a weapon!
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As you zoom for the finish line you’ll soon see that this is not your ordinary racing game. SquareSoft has brought the adventures of Chocobo and friends from Final Fantasy to the PlayStation with a variety of tracks and races. Instead of racing a car, you choose a character that has his or her own unique vehicle with different abilities, strengths and weaknesses. Up to two players can choose between eight different characters and eight different courses to race on. Each course varies in theme, layout and difficulty. While Chocobo and his friends are racing through the tracks, they try to collect pieces of the legendary blue crystal, which they can only gather by winning their races. It’s a madcap frenzy of oddball racers doing whatever it takes to win.
Chocobo Racing’s controller is fairly straightforward, with only a few features that you’ll need to practice and work on. This game utilizes "Magic Stones" throughout the courses that you can use to attack others or defend yourself. Each one has its own unique characteristics that can be fun to use to your advantage. The "Fire" stone can be used to attack those in front of you with a fireball that will knock them senseless. If you accumulate three fire stones at once, your power will be substantially increased and you’ll blast a huge fireball at the crowd that will knock down everyone in the way. The basic rule is that the more of the same magic stones you collect along the way, the more powerful your ability becomes. You are limited to collecting three stones at a time, however. The stones are lined up in various areas along the tracks, and you can seek out and accumulate the ones you want. The "minimize" stones will shrink all of your opponents and cause them to slow down. The "thunderbolt" stones will blast a lightning bolt at your opponents, and cause them to crash. If you get one of the "doom" stones, you can put a spell on your opponent that will cause them to have a really big crash. Also in the mix is the "ice" stone, which will generate a sheet of ice on the track, causing anyone who drives over it to spin out of control. If you pick up one of the "reflect" stones, you will be able to temporarily protect yourself from others trying to cast spells on you. If you want to grab a quick boost of speed, you’ll need to pick up the "haste" stone, which will give you a quick getaway if needed. Last, but not least, the "ultima" stone contains the ultimate in magic, that casts a spell that makes all of your rivals crash, even if you only have one. The more "ultima" stones you collect, the greater the crashes, and the longer it will take your opponents to recover.
When selecting a character to race as, you’ll also be able to select that player’s special ability to use to your advantage during the race. You can choose the "Dash" feature, which will allow you to travel faster for a brief period of time. The "Grip Up" feature increases your traction, making it easier to handle the corners and makes you accelerate quicker. The "Charge" feature gives you a turbo boost that you can use to ram into rival racers and make them spin out of control. If you’re feeling like a bird, you can choose the "flap" ability, that makes you fly in the air so you can avoid any obstacles that might be in the way. There are also abilities that will allow you to steal magic stones from others, defend you from attacks, or increase the power of the stones you receive. The only drawback is that you can only choose one of these abilities to use. I thought it would have been cool if you could use all of them, but I guess that would give you an unfair advantage.
I found that the courses were all unique and original. There are even more hidden courses in the game, but I was not able to find them. The only clue to finding them is to play the game several times, which can unlock them for you. There’s even a storybook mode, in the format of a pop-up book narrated by Uncle Cid. This is very entertaining for young children, which is probably the main target audience for this game. It’s pretty fun for the older kids too. With four other modes to play, it will no doubt keep your kiddies entertained for quite a while. I would say that the age range for this game is probably between four and twelve years old.
I thought that the graphics were really done about as well as could be expected. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but they did take the time to make the graphics quite colorful and with a decent amount of detail. The graphics are slightly above average for what you’d expect to see on a PlayStation. The scenery is also animated well, with all sorts of activity going on in the background. Kids will like it.
If you’re looking for a real hard-core racing game, you will be disappointed. This game is targeted to the younger crowd and is more than adequately entertaining and appealing to children. It’s not too complicated, so just about anyone can enjoy it right away. This would be a great first game for a preschooler who could probably learn to make it around the track fairly quickly and progress to greater skill levels as they got older. Older kids would probably have fun with it too, but I wasn’t able to find any to test it with. The game is labeled for "Everyone" and says that it has mild animated violence. I would call it extremely mild. The only violence I could see is the fact that you’re casting spells that cause your animated cartoon opponents to spin out on the track, etc. If you have kids, I would say that they would probably enjoy this game. The kid in me did.