Of course, this is a kart racer, and a kart racer is all about gameplay. And Chocobo's Racing
, while no Crash Team Racing
, is a great little game that brought me quite a bit of enjoyment. There are plenty of play modes -- a story mode presented in a pop-up book style that is immediately endearing, a Grand Prix mode where you race on four tracks in an attempt to win the most points, a Time Trial mode where you race to get the best time, and the obligatory Versus mode. The best features of all of these modes, however, are the customizations you can do with your characters. Before a race begins, you choose who you want to race as. Then you pick what power you want them to have. They range from the mundane -- Chocobo's Dash, which speeds him up considerably, to the insane -- Bahamut's MegaFlare, which instantly wipes out everyone on the field. They all have charging times, which depend on their power. And then, on the track, there are magic stones that you can pick up with varying abilities, such as ice, fire, and another wipeout spell, Ultima. Pick up more of the same type and it gets stronger. Like Crash Team Racing
, sometimes this makes the game a bit too unbalanced in the case of someone with strong magic, but nonetheless, it's fun as hell. Trying different combinations of racers and powers can present an entirely different racing experience. Unfortunately, each race only consists of three laps, and many of the beginning tracks are way too short to really get a good feel for the game in those three laps.
Of course, this is a Square game, and there are tons of hidden features. Beat the Story Mode and you get to design your own racer and get a hidden character. Beat it again and get another. Beat Grand Prix and open up more difficult leagues to race in. Very typical Square, and nonetheless, they definitely extend the playablity of this game considerably.
Unfortunately, because of control issues (there's three ways to go -- left, forward, and right, (kiss your analog steering goodbye), this cannot be the best kart racer ever made. Some of the tracks are obscenely annoying, simply because of the abundance of right and left turns. Learning how to brake-tap can fix this problem, but nonetheless, you feel like something's missing. Sure, the game's for kids, but it doesn't have to be so dumbed down as to be annoying. Kids are plenty bright -- just watch your younger sister or brother play Final Fantasy 8 to prove it.