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Watching a raceEdit
Any player may watch a race by paying 50 gil to enter the grandstands of the Chocobo Circuit. Players in the grandstand area when a race starts will view the race as a cutscene-like event (the player temporarily loses all control of their character while the viewpoint changes to the race in progress). Players may watch as many races as they want, but if they leave the grandstand they will need to pay another 50 gil to get back in.
Betting on a raceEdit
Any player can bet on a race whether they have a chocobo to race or not. Rewards for betting on a race are limited to gil.
Racing one's own chocoboEdit
Once the player's chocobo is old enough, they may enter it in chocobo races. There is a fee in gil or Chocobucks to participate in each race. Players may pay gil to race in the Free Races to win Chocobucks, pay Chocobucks to race in the Official Races in order to win prizes and advance to new Official Races, re-run Official Races already cleared, or race against other players' chocobos for fun.
Players do not ride or control their own chocobo, which is instead ridden by an NPC chocobo jockey. (This jockey cannot be chosen by the player and has no influence on the race.) Players may choose one of three paces for their chocobo: Keep Pace (keep a consistent speed for the whole race), Sprint (run at top speed right from the start), or Final Spurt (the chocobo will conserve stamina until near the end, where it will make a final all-out dash). Players may also give an item to their chocobo to be used automatically during the race for various effects. Finally, in certain races the player may choose a saddle, which will alter their chocobo's attributes.
During the race, the chocobo's stamina depletes based on how fast it is running. Chocobos which have reached the limit of their stamina will begin to tire; sweat drops will fly from the chocobo, and its speed will drop. Chocobos have a chance (dependent on their attributes) to randomly stumble, falling behind. Each chocobo will also use one item during the race. These items can boost a chocobo's attributes (such as the Speed Apple), lower opposing chocobos' attributes (such as the Gyshal Bomb), or alter the weather (different chocobos have different weather preferences, which affect their performance dependent on the weather).
Rewards depend on the race being run. Certain Official Races yield items such as trophies to be used to decorate one's Mog House and costume equipment. Free Races yield Chocobucks, which can be used to participate in Official Races or traded in for prizes.
Prior to its official announcement, the ability to raise and race chocobos was a feature that was frequently asked for on the various forums. When the development team finally announced that it was going to be implemented, players were enthusiastic. However, when it was announced that players would not be able to directly control their racing chocobo, skepticism grew and enthusiasm was cooled somewhat.
Following the actual implementation of chocobo raising and racing, there was much disappointment for a variety of reasons. The non-interactive nature of the races was the largest factor. Another large factor was the fact that most of the rewards from chocobo racing just helped you get better at chocobo racing, with the remainder being largely cosmetic enhancements such as racing costumes and furniture. Finally, the fact that the best chocobo players could raise (with much time and some difficulty) was no faster than the ordinary rental chocobos was the last often-cited complaint about the system.
Despite the poor response, chocobo racing received several updates before having development discontinued. Only a few die-hards continue to race chocobos today, most of whom are Japanese players.
- Boco will sometimes appear in the races as a competitor.
- There is a genre of racing management simulator games in Japan that work much like chocobo racing in Final Fantasy XI and are thought by the players to have been a inspiration for it.