|Can you name them all?|
The Japanese PSN is filled with brilliant games – both new and old, that you can't get on the English-language services (yet, anyway). Chocobo Racing on the Japanese PSOne classics is one example of this.
A clear attempt to capitalise on the success of Mario Kart, Chocobo Racing has a lot going for it. Of most immediate importance, it has got a stable of well-loved Square Enix characters to choose from; there’s Chocobo, White Mage, Black Mage, Moogle, Goblin, Golem and others. All up, it’s hardly a who’s who of Square Enix (there’s not many characters from the numbered Final Fantasy games, for instance), but there’s enough variety in there to keep fans happy.
|Bombs. Luckily they're only a countdown in this game|
The race tracks are bright and vivid, and overall, quite well designed. There’s not nearly as many as you’d find in a Mario Kart (there’s only nine basic tracks), but those tracks find a good balance between turns and straights, opportunities to overtake and opportunities to really speed ahead. As a result, it’s possible to do well with any character.
There’s four main game modes – a story mode (which is the only time non-Japanese speaking people will struggle, though it’s not necessary to understand the language to work out what’s going on), a GP mode where you’ll pick four tracks to race across, a time trial mode, and a two player mode.
|Poor Moogle. He's never going to get his own game|
Surprisingly enough, the story mode is worth playing through because every time you complete it, you can make a custom character. You’ll take a pre-existing character, change its colour, and assign statistics such as speed, weight etc according to your preferences. That’s something Mario Kart never offered.
The other big difference between this game and Mario Kart is the ability to “power up” pick ups. When you roll over a pickup, you can chose to either fire it off immediately, or increase its potency by picking up another powerup of the same kind later on.
|It's hard not to love the lil' fella|
Powering a weapon up to level 3 makes it quite deadly (think blue shell), but powering it up that long might not be worth the wait – as a result there’s a risk/ reward strategy that needs to be considered, a nice change from the trigger happy Mario Kart.
Ultimately Chocobo Racing doesn’t reach the heights of Mario Kart – it lacks the 4-player multiplayer and the depth of tracks, but it is nonetheless a polished experience with a few tricks of its own. Well worth the cheap asking price – and best of all, there’s very little in the game that can’t be understood without knowing Japanese!