The Racers and Tracks of Chocobo GP

Back during the PSOne days, Square released a mascot kart racing game featuring cute versions of their Final Fantasy staple characters.  You know, chocobo, moogle, white and black mages, etc.  It was called Chocobo Racing.  I wanted to get this game when it came out, but I was poor college student at the time and couldn’t afford to get it at full price.  Plus I heard it was getting a lot of bad reviews, so I decided to wait for a while.  Shortly after I graduated college, I found a new copy of Chocobo Racing at a flea market and it was only 20 bucks.  And since I had a bit more disposable income by then, I decided to get it.  And you know what?  Despite it having such bad reviews, I really liked it!  Sure it was no where near as good as Mario Kart or other mascot racers at the time such as Diddy Kong Racing and Crash Team Racing.  But I really liked how they implemented Final Fantasy themes and tropes into the gameplay and presentation.  So when Square-Enix showed a sequel of sorts last year coming to the Switch called Chocobo GP, I was really excited and wanted to get it.  So now I finally have it and I wanted to talk about it and all the characters and tracks found therein.  So let’s get started!

But before I do that, I wanted to elaborate more on some things I liked about the original Chocobo Racing, mainly some surprises.  While it was certainly a typical kart racer, I did like how they implemented Final Fantasy staples into the weapons and tracks, like remixed music from classic games and whatnot.  One neat thing you could do in it that I haven’t seen in other kart racers is that you could edit your own racer with points you earned from beating Story Mode a bunch of times.  You had to pick a regular character, but you could edit the color scheme and parameters like speed, cornering, etc.  Sure you could make an overpowered racer this way, but I never said the game was perfect.  The game also had a TON of secret characters.  Some included Cloud on a bike, 8 bit versions of a Chocobo and Airship (which went super fast like in the old game), and a Cactrot!  One of the most super obscure secret racers in the game was Jumping Jack from 3-D WorldRunner, which was a super early NES game from Square.  Plus the ending song is one of my favorite vocal tunes in a video game.  Kind of reflects how I feel about the Final Fantasy series as a whole.  Look it up sometime, the song is called “Diamonds in my Heart.”

Anyway, the new Chocobo GP has your typical modes.  There’s an emphasis on online play, with coins you can earn to buy special things in the shop (more on that later).  There’s also single player modes like cup races, time trials, and a Story Mode.  Is the game as good as the original Chocobo Racing?  Oh heck no.  In fact, I can understand why people have given Chocobo GP bad reviews, too.  But I still like it anyway.  But then, I guess there’s no accounting for my tastes.  I don’t like how the game is full price but you can still use real money to buy things in the shop.  Play control can feel sluggish and broken at times, and while I like cutesy games, the Story Mode borderlines on being annoyingly childish.  The game is only digitally in the US, which I also don’t like, so I imported the European physical version and it works just fine.  Anyway, with that out of the way, let’s take a look at the racers and tracks in Chocobo GP.


She’s just a standard chibi version of the yellow Chocobo workhorse birds from the FF franchise.  She wears a green bandana scarf and appears in other games like Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Tales and the Chocobo’s Mysterious Dungeon games.  And of course, the original Chocobo Racing.  I’ve played the Chocobo’s Tales game, but not the Mysterious Dungeon titles.  I’d like to, but I don’t have the time to play ALL those games!  Chocobo races with jet powered skates like in the first one. She also only says “Kweh kweh” in this game, even though other Chocobo characters actually talk in this one.


He’s a goggle-wearing moogle who hangs around Chocobo and has a greedy streak.  I’m not sure if he’s the same moogle as before, but I guess they gave him a name now.  I figure he’s also in the Mysterious Dungeon games, but I’m not completely sure.


This is the Fat Chocobo, but he’s not very interesting in this game.  And I though Clair was a girl’s name, but here he has a boy’s voice, so I dunno.  In the first Chocobo Racing, the unnamed Fat Chocobo character had a race track made out of food, so that was fun.


She’s a red Chocobo and the only character trait she seems to have is that she’s a girl.  But I’ve heard the other main Chocobo character is supposed to be a girl as well, so I dunno.

Camilla’s Pa

He’s Camilla’s dad.  Not sure why they didn’t give him a separate name, but they do poke fun at that in the story mode.  He’s a farmer Chocobo who drives a tractor in the races and wears a green hat that looks more like an army hat than a farmer hat.


She’s the White Mage, and I guess they decided to give her a name now.  She also drives a car, unlike in the original Chocobo Racing where she rode on a flying carpet.  Which made her and other racers like the Black Mage and Bahamut a bit unbalanced because they couldn’t slip on ground obstacles since they flew!


I’m not sure if she’s a new character or from the Mysterious Dungeon games, but she’s kind of like Shirma except she wears pigtails.  She also has a double personality.  Normally she’s all sweet and kind, but when she gets in her race car, she talks all mean and tough!


Nearly every FF game has a Cid, and this is the same one from the original Chocobo Racing and Mysterious Dungeon titles.  Except here he’s playable and drives a tank (why not an airship?).


He’s the purple Behemoth monster character.  I guess they decided to give him a name here as well.


I was super happy to find out she was in this game, as Terra is my favorite Final Fantasy character.  Even better, in this game she’s in her purple Esper form, and she drives a Magitek Armor as her kart!  She’s also pretty funny in Story Mode.


In FF6, Maduin is Terra’s Esper father.  He’s kind of a beast man type.  I’m not sure why they chose him instead of Kefka if they wanted some FF6 representation in the game, but I’m glad to see so much FF6 representation at all, since FF6 is one of my top five favorite games of all time.  Kefka would make a great racer in this game, though!


And if having so much FF6 representation wasn’t great enough, FF9 also got a good amount of content in this game.  And FF9 is another one of my favorites.  Vivi was my favorite character in FF9, and I’m glad to see him in the game, too.  I guess he kind of replaces the standard Black Mage character from the original Chocobo Racing.


He’s another one of my favorite FF9 characters, a bumbling knight.  What’s funny is that most characters in Chocobo GP had to be ‘chibi-fied’ to be in the game, but not Vivi and Steiner!  They fit right in just as they are!


A lot of FF summon monsters are in this game, but here they make them look more human for some reason.  Ifrit just looks like a guy cosplaying as Ifrit, with fiery hair and horns.  He also wears a firefighter jacket for some reason.


She’s the pretty ice queen in most games, but I think there’s one where she’s a motorcycle or something?  Here she’s just a blue girl with goggles.


In FF4, she is the four-armed, four faced queen of the Summon Monsters.  Her husband is Leviathan, king of the seas.  Since Leviathan is a serpent and can’t drive a car, Asura uses her magic to turn him into a car and she drives him!


He’s a rock monster who tends to hang out with Ben the Behemoth.  In the original game, there is a rock monster you can race as named Golem, but I think this one is different.


She’s a little fairy who looks like she’s cosplaying as a moogle and she rides a rocking horse as her kart.


He’s an old guy with a long white beard who shoots lightning.

Racing Hero X

This is another moogle who dons a disguise to look like a secret agent or a super hero and calls himself Racing Hero X.  He’s a bit smaller than the other moogle and wears a purple helmet with goggles.  In Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Tales, there’s a similar moogle who challenges you to card matches with a similar persona.  I wonder if he’s the same character?

Mecha Chocobo

It is what you think it is, a robot Chocobo.  I wonder if that’s in reference to the first Mana game where your Chocobo gets mechanized after having its legs hurt.


In FFV, Gilgamesh is one of the reoccurring antagonists, and he even appears in later FF games as well.  You’ll race against him here in nearly every chapter of the game’s story mode.


He’s the final boss racer, your typical pretty boy modern FF boss type.  I’m not sure if he’s in any other FF game or just made for this one.


I can’t say too much about this character because I don’t know how to unlock him yet, but he’s the running cactus monster that has appeared in nearly every FF game since FF6, I think.


So the last two characters here are part of the problem I have with the game.  Of course everyone knows who Cloud is, spiky haired goob with a giant sword.  But you have to unlock him with currency you earn by playing online matches.  And he costs like, 9000 coins.  When I played online matches, I only earned 30, so I was like, ‘well I guess I’m not unlocking him.’  Oh well, I don’t like Cloud anyway.  You can also pay real money to buy currency for these characters and other purchases, and I don’t like that cell phone mentality this part of the game has.  When I buy a game full price, especially if it’s digital, I think everything should be included in it.  But I guess I’m just old fashioned.


He’s available in the same fashion as Cloud, and both seem to be available for a limited time so I won’t be unlocking him either.  But that’s OK because I don’t like Squall either.  Did you know that Squall was playable in the original Chocobo Racing as well?  That game came out at the same time as FF8, so they used it to kind of promote the other.  There was a special FF8 track that wasn’t very interesting, and Squall looked totally out of place.

And those are all the racers as of this writing.  They may add more through DLC, but that’s all I’m going to write about them for now.  So now let’s take a look at the tracks.  There’s only eight track themes, which is a bit disappointing since the original game even had more.  Granted, each track theme here has at least two or more variations of it.  But it’s still not a lot of variety.  They may add more via DLC later, but here’s what we’ve got right now.

Chocobo Farm

This is your typical dirt based country track with a bluegrass version of the Chocobo theme playing in the background.  I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be the Chocobo Farm from FF7 or not, though.

Cid’s Test Track

And this is your typical cement road race track.  There was also a Cid’s Test Track in the first Chocobo Racing game as well.

Monster Village

In the FF games I’ve played, the summon monster villages were always in some cave in another dimension or whatever.  So I don’t know why this is a beach track.  So maybe one of you FF fans who have played more games than me can tell me if there is a summon monster village on a beach somewhere.  This track is a bit annoying, too, with sand that slows you down and exploding coconuts!


Aw yeah, FF6 representation again!  In that game, Zozo was a slum town that was always raining, and it’s cool to see it all modernized with 3-D graphics here.  And yes it rains on the track as well.  The remixed Zozo theme is great, and I love the little details in the background like the neon sign that says, “HadesGigas Hotel.”


In this track you drive around the castle and town of the FF9 location, complete with a peppy remix of the “Melodies of Life” theme.  The tracks here can be annoying with all the 90 degree turns!

Big Bridge

This track has two distinct versions.  One is at night under the bridge, and is a basic oval and plays a remix of the FFV overworld theme.  The other version of this track is on the bridge itself, and they play the “Battle at the Big Bridge” theme from FFV, one of the coolest FF songs ever.  The toll gates that you have to pass through can really screw you up!

Gold Saucer

This one is based on the amusement park from FF7, but here it’s basically just their version of Rainbow Road.

Interdimensional Drift

And the last track theme is made of crystals, with a bunch of floating crystals to avoid and the sky looks like dimensional hole portals all over the place.  Looks like where you’d fight a final FF boss.

And that’s all I have to say about Chocobo GP!  Again, I can certainly understand why people may not like it.  It’s definitely no Mario Kart 8, that’s for sure.  And even though I enjoyed the original Chocobo Racing more, I still liked this one, too.  But what do I know?  That’s all for now!  Later!  –Cary

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