Saturday, April 30, 2011

Four awesome Chocobo games the west missed out on

Chocobo is a really, really popular character in Japan. He's been appearing in games of his own since the PlayStation era, and although the west hasn't seen all of them, the yellow guy is starting to invade the hearts of gamers over here as well.

So what are some of the Chocobo games that western gamers have missed out on? In short: some really awesome ones. Many of these games are readily available (the PlayStation Network is region-free after all), but unfortunately, most Chocobo games do require a reasonable level of Japanese language skills to properly enjoy.

But, for the curious, here are four really good Chocobo games that you probably haven't had the chance to play:

We love you Chocobo!

Dice De Chocobo

Let's start with this completely oddball, but utterly charming little Monopoly clone. Yes, in Japan, Chocobo was in a board game. Dice De Chocobo used many of the same basic gameplay concepts of Monopoly - buying "spaces" on the board, collecting rent, and painted them over with a glossy Square Enix coat of paint - turning the boards into a world of black and white mages, and of course the lil' yellow guy. 

Surprisingly (though this goes for most Chocobo games), although it's quite a cute game on the surface, there's quite a bit of depth and challenge lying in there. It's the kind of game that is quite capable of having you going for weeks, which does elevate it from the somewhat throwaway nature of Monopoly. This game is available on the PSN in Japan, and it's a game you just might get through without knowing much Japanese.

Oh crap. I landed on Mayfair

Chocobo Stallion

And you thought a Chocobo board game was a weird concept... Chocobo Stallion blows that out of the water. Basically, you're looking a horse breeding game, but instead of horses you're breeding and racing a stable of Chocobos. 

This game was never going to work in the west, but you know what? It's a damn addictive experience. Breeding the best Chocobos took real work, and this game was a number cruncher's dream... with cute, fluffy, oversized chickens.

Most of us will never get the opportunity to own and race thoroughbreds. This game, then, gives us a whiff of the excitement such a pursuit can offer. Again, this is available on the Japanese PSN, but it'll be difficult to work this one out without a translation.

These chocobos are not quite as cute. Which makes sense, they're lean mean racing machines

Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Dungeon

Moving away from the PSOne games, we come to the Nintendo DS, and this game was easily the best Chocobo Dungeon game you probably didn't play. 

It was basically the same Chocobo Dungeon game we did see translated into English on the Nintendo Wii, but at the same time, this version was better. Firstly, this kind of gameplay works better on the go than stuck in front of a TV. More importantly, though, was that it had extra playable levels. As Cid. 

If you have played the Wii game already, you could potentially struggle through this one, too. Why Square Enix decided this wasn't worth a translation is well beyond me, though.

Not as pretty as the Wii game, but we put more hours into this version

Chocobo and the Magic Picture Book: The Witch, the Girl, and the Five Heroes

We've saved the best for last. This really long titled game is really Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales 2. Remember that minigame compilation that hit the DS early in its lifecycle? This is the sequel to that game. But it does things so differently that they're not really comparable.

The minigames are back (with many of them the exact same game as previously), but if you remember, Chocobo Tales used those minigames as a way of earning better cards for the real meat to the game, the Pop up Duel battles - a kind of Magic the Gathering collectable card game lite. It was great fun, but Chocobo Tales 2 does away with it for a system that is even more fun.

This time around the 'battles' play out like disc flicking games. You fling Chocobo across an arena, and if he comes into contact with an enemy, that enemy is damaged based on strength and other factors - such as special abilities unlocked by doing well in the minigames section.

The story of the game itself is also a bit more interesting, and visually more exciting. It's a real pity this game missed out on a localisation, because it is far better than the DS original.

The story sequences in this game were a lot of fun



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