Introduction to RPGs with Professor Chocobo
Gather round ye children for a tale of a mythical beast,
A small and yellow Chocobo, to say the very least.
He started out a footnote in Final Fantasy,
But greater fame and fortune seemed to be his destiny.
As the story grows and grows, from Fantasies Two through Eight,
Our dearest Chocobo got a racer that wasn't very great.
Now at last he's in an RPG his very own,
With patience read the rest to discover all that's shown.
But alas, dear friends, I'm sad to say it only seems fit,
That in the end a game like this is such a piece of...
Chocobo, the cloyingly cute bird of the Final Fantasy world, has entered the role-playing fray on his very own in the guise of Chocobo's Mysterious Dungeon. Chocobo and his little buddy Mog are in search of treasure. Well, at least the money-grubbin' Mogster is… all Chocobo wants is a little snack. During the search for their personal ideas of wealth, the duo enter a mysterious dungeon. As they fend for their lives, they will encounter friends such as Shiroma, the white mage, and Cid, the inventor. Perhaps, eventually, they will find out what the true treasure is…
Chocobo's Dungeon 2 is a randomized RPG game. Every time you visit the dungeon, it changes, revealing new terrain and treasures. The goal is to keep progressing deeper into the depths of the dungeon by way of staircases. The randomization can sometimes place you right next to the stairs or set you a fair distance away. This can lead to some problems: one time, the randomizer engine constructed a single 9 square room with the stairs in the center - not the most difficult of dungeons. When you die in a dungeon, no matter where you are, you will lose all your possessions and be cast outside, forced to start all over.
The gameplay is fairly straightforward. You go into the dungeon and die repeatedly until you level up to the point where you are strong enough to make it through the entire dungeon. After braving your way to the last floor and beating whatever boss is at the end, you'll encounter some dorky event that will whisk you away to the next part of the story… and the next dungeon to conquer, starting the process over. Repetitious would be an understatement.
While you do actively control the kicking of your little chocobo friend, the game is still turn-based. Walk up to an enemy and slash him a good one. He'll smack you back. You to him, him to you - back and forth until one goes down for the count. Beneath most enemies are little meters similar to the active battle meters of the Final Fantasy games. When that meter is filled, the enemy will cast its spell.
Magic for your Chocobo is managed through a collection of magic books. This will look familiar to Final Fantasy players with fire, ice, and quake themed spells that increase with power the more you use them. Unlike the physical attacks, the magic is still menu based.
In some dungeons, a second character will accompany you; either a computer or another player can control this character. Don't expect too much out of your companion if it's under computer control. Most of the time it will try to lend a hand, but in general it has a tendency to be erratic.
The 2-player human controlled option, although innovative, isn't fully fleshed out. Not only is the second player limited to basic attacks, but in order to access second player spells, you must switch player 2 back to 'auto.' Having to circumvent the system like this demonstrates how the 2 player mode is lacking. I think they just forgot to finish it.
As for the graphics, the characters are pre-rendered sprites with noticeably rough edges. The backgrounds have no mark of style, generally showcasing a retro low res look, or the repetition of the same old dungeon scheme. On the other hand, between most major events there's a well done CG video. If only the actual game looked so good. Frankly, this game would've been better with the Saga Frontier II storybook graphic style.
Sounds are rehashed mixes of the classic Chocobo song. Damn, I'm tired of that tune. Mediocre and time-tested, nothing stuck out as new or memorable in the audio department. The sounds are familiar little yelps, cries, and slaps. Same old, same old.
This is a game that most adults can only play for half an hour at a time, each just another attempt to get through the dungeon. If you can't, just save and come back to that dungeon when you're stronger. This is really a game for little kids. Few adults will like the lack of focus and the ability to eventually succeed just by doing it over and over again. However, even a role-playing game marketed at a younger audience deserves a good story. Sadly, there is none here.
This could have been a better game. Many of the right elements are here, and the random dungeons up the replay value. However, the lack of depth and no real story to inspire you weaken its fun tremendously. Final Fantasy freaks out there, please don't feel obligated to buy this title because of its indirect relation to your favorite long running series.