Despite being one of the most adorable games we’ve played in 2022, Square Enix’s Final Fantasy racer Chocobo GP fails to be a memorable experience that encourages players to keep coming back.
Yes, you read that right. Ever since I learned what a car was I’ve been obsessed with pushing my racing skills to the limits. From the OG Sonic R and Sonic Riders, to Forza Horizon 5; anything with a car (or some speedy method of transport) is my guilty pleasure.
Imagine my face when I discovered Chocobo GP: the seemingly perfect collision of Final Fantasy and the racing genre. While the game certainly made me smile (and sometimes cringe), it fails to rival the likes of Mario Kart simply because it lacks a bit of pizzazz.
Chocobo GP: Key details
- Price: £39.99 / €49.99 / $49.99
- Developer: Arika
- Release Date: March 10, 2022
- Platforms: Switch
Chocobo GP: Trailer
Cute characters but clunky controls
Once you’ve gotten past the fact that the game’s characters are, indeed, absolutely adorable, there’s a whole lot of gameplay issues to contend with.
I failed the tutorial multiple times for relatively pointless errors. I continually drifted off course because there seemed to be a delay between when I pressed the button and the game itself picking up the command. I found myself missing starting boosts even if I timed it perfectly. The controls simply seem to lack the fluidity of games like Mario Kart or Crash Team Racing.
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This applies to the in-game items and abilities, too. While it’s cool that every character has a unique move that can either propel them ahead of their opponents or hit them with special Final Fantasy-themed attacks, they ultimately just don’t do very much and, again, take a minute to fire off.
All in all, the concept is there but the execution isn’t, making the game pale in comparison to its more established competitors.
Have I seen this before?
What Chocobo GP lacks in gameplay mechanics it makes up for in its universe. Borrowing various locations from Final Fantasy’s extensive history, including the iconic Gold Saucer, racing is a delight on the eyes and will have any OG fan cracking a smile.
Sadly, the tracks themselves are completely uninspired despite their glorious visuals. There’s very little variation, each track feels like a cut and paste of the last, and it literally feels like you’re going in circles (which you are, but it really shouldn’t feel that way).
The non-Final Fantasy levels leave a lot to be desired, pitting racers against one another on tracks we’ve seen done better in a thousand other games. A beach location? Been there, done that.
There are a whole plethora of vistas that could have made it into this game to add a unique Final Fantasy feeling to the world space, and yet we see none of them. Not only is it disappointing, but it also rips the Final Fantasy soul from the game and leaves you feeling like you played ‘just another racer.’
It’s a rich man’s world
Of course, Chocobo GP is full of microtransactions. With a huge chunk of the content being locked behind a paywall, it seems mind-boggling that you’re paying $50 for the base game, only to have to drop more of your hard-earned cash on in-game transactions.
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While the monetization of video games is a debate that still consumes the wider community, Chocobo GP definitely feels like a mobile game that has been ported to Switch and sold at a rather exorbitant price.
Square Enix have addressed concerns in a March 11 tweet, but realistically, we’d recommend downloading the free Lite Version and trying that out before forking out your money.
For all its stunning vistas and fun-filled stories, Chocobo GP just doesn’t have the sparkle that it needs to propel it to the top.
Plagued by poor handling, dull tracks, and a microtransaction system that will have players arguing until the cows (or chocobos) come home, the game lacks the finesse of competitors and doesn’t really give players much reason to dive back in.
Unfortunately, Chocobo GP will likely gather dust in my Switch library while I return to the likes of Mario Kart – and it’s a shame, because I really, really wanted to love it.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch