December 10, 2022

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Chocobo GP’s Freemium Model is A Huge Turn Off

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Mario 8 Deluxe still sits as the king of kart racing games despite being a re-hashed version of its Wii U counterpart. The Nintendo Switch has amassed a library of games in five years, and Chocobo GP seemed like a welcome surprise when it was first announced in 2021. It was pitched as a successor to the 1999 Chocobo Racing from the PlayStation 1. Now, we’ve seen a lot of alternative kart racing games these days. Team Sonic Racing is a solid option, and Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, a remastered version of the original CTR that Naughty Dog developed (yep, the folks who made The Last of Us, those guys). Despite many playable titles, the kart racing genre doesn’t necessarily have that much to offer. Chocobo GB promises a fun time, and at first glance, the game is full of fan service and has a lot of charm. What could go wrong? Well, the answer – apparently – is microtransactions.

An Aggressive Push for Microtransactions

In terms of racing, Chocobo GP is what you’d expect. Choose a character, hop into your kart of choice, cast spells, collect power-ups, and drift around the laps until the race finishes. However, after those matches is where your wheels will start to skid off the tracks.

You can unlock new levels and racers, but you can also get a bunch of different currencies for the assortment of shops in the game where you can buy outfits, new karts, and other unlockables. There are three types of currency in Chocobo GP: Gil, Tickets, and Mythril.

You can get Gil if you purchase either the regular Prize pass or the Premium Prize Pass. You can also complete daily and weekly challenges in the online knock-out game mode. Outside of the Prize Pass, earning Gil is a slow and tedious process that takes the fun out of Chocobo GP. So if you want to collect a lot of Gil to buy the characters, vehicles, and skins you want, you’ll be forced to invest in a Prize Pass that you’ll need to buy with real money.

Then there are the Tickets which are the easiest currency to earn in Chocobo GP. You can simply earn Tickets by playing the game, and you can even increase the rate you earn them by playing specific modes. Whether it’s by completing optional story missions, doing story chapters, or collecting Crystals as you race, the process of getting Tickets is inevitable. Tickets are primarily used to customize the look of your vehicles, racers, and backgrounds.

Finally, we get to Mythril. This premium currency is only available through the Nintendo eShop and nowhere else. At first, you’ll get 800 Mythril as a login bonus for season one, but that’s about it in terms of getting it for free. The worst part about Mythril is that the currency will expire despite paying cold hard cash. You can see on the in-game screen that your Mythril will expire at the end of the month, five months after acquisition.

All of these questionable decisions made regarding the currencies in Chocobo GP are the kind of things you’d expect from a free-to-play mobile game rather than a $50 Switch game.

An Absolute Grindfest

The multiplayer modes and Story Mode in Chocobo GP provide more than enough fun for players. There’s always something to do in the game with lots of characters, skins, and kart to unlock. There’s just one problem: the grinding. While easy enough to earn, the in-game currency (Tickets and Gil) requires a lot of repetition to gain a substantial amount. Coupled with the fact that Chocobo GP has only nine tracks so far (not including the number of variations for each track), this turns the kart racing game dull.

Chocobo GP doubles down on the grind even more when unlocking Squall Leonhart and Cloud Strife. You can only unlock these two characters after completing the season 1 battle pass. Others might argue that Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled also used this tactic; however, that game had more online modes for players to grind through.

In A Nutshell

The monetization thrust into the faces of players of Chocobo GP tarnishes what would otherwise be a perfectly acceptable kart racer. And while I didn’t delve into other issues such as poor gameplay and performance issues, it’s difficult not to look away from what Square is trying to do here. It’s borderline archaic, and it’s a trait that echoes back to a dark time the gaming industry has now (thankfully) moved away from. If you’re the least bit curious about Chocobo GP, I’d recommend picking up the free ‘Lite’ version to get a feel for it. Unless you want to feel like you got robbed, don’t fork over that $50 just yet.

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