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Chocobo racing (チョコボレース, Chokobo Rēsu?, lit. Chocobo Race) is a recurring minigame in the Final Fantasy series introduced in Final Fantasy VII, where the series' mascot animals, chocobos, race for victory. Different versions of the minigame have appeared in different games, but the minigame is an optional feature apart from the one instance in Final Fantasy VII.
Chocobo racing is played in Gold Saucer on a phantasmagorical race track that has two versions: a short and a long course. The player can bet on the other chocobos racing, but the highest classes are only accessed by entering the race with the player's own chocobo, obtained by capturing in the wild and raising them in the Chocobo Farm. Different colored chocobos have different attributes that can help them during the race. Feeding the chocobos special greens on the farm and breeding high-ranking racing chocobos together raises the player's chocobos' stats: speed, stamina and intelligence.
Chocobo racing is an optional part of the game apart from the one instance where Cloud Strife is forced to enter a race to win a pardon from Corel Prison for himself and his friends, but some equipment and Materia can only be obtained as prizes from the races, and racing makes it much easier to raise the ultimate chocobo, as chocobos that have reached higher ranks in the races have better chances of producing colored offspring.
The player can play four types of chocobo races on the Calm Lands, used as a method of taming and training wild chocobos. The player can find an NPC on the plains that lets Tidus race chocobos and after having tamed a chocobo, the player can take the chocobo for a ride around the Calm Lands. In the hardest race the racer must catch as many balloons on the track as possible while avoiding incoming birds. The racer with the better final time wins (a bird adds three seconds while a balloon removes three seconds from the racing time). To win the Sun Sigil for Tidus's Celestial Weapon a time of 00:00 is required.
In Remiem Temple the player rides a chocobo though the maze of platforms below the temple and has to reach the finish mark at the bottom before the opponent chocobo. The first time the player wins the challenge they will get the Cloudy Mirror, an item needed in making the Celestial Weapons. The chocobo race can be run numerous times for additional prizes, but each prize can only be won once for a total of five prizes.
Players may watch chocobo races, bet on chocobo races, and enter chocobos that they have raised themselves in the chocobo races. Chocobo racing takes place in the Chocobo Circuit, a special zone accessible from most of the major cities.
Unlike other chocobo racing minigames, chocobo racing in Final Fantasy XI is non-interactive. Instead of being ridden by the player the player's chocobo is ridden by an NPC chocobo jockey. Before the race, the player may look at the condition of the other chocobos in the race, select one of three pacings for the chocobo, and equip the bird with an item to be used during the race, such as a Speed Apple or Gysahl Bomb. The item will be used at a point in the race determined by the chocobo's discretion (the jockey is not a factor at all and cannot be customized in any way). For certain races the player may choose a saddle, which will modify the chocobo's attributes.
Players whose chocobo wins in the races receive Chocobucks, which are exchangeable for various prizes, nearly all of which are useful only in chocobo racing itself. Because of this "reward cul-de-sac" and the non-interactive races, chocobo racing is unpopular with the players in general.
The inspiration for the chocobo racing in Final Fantasy XIII-2 may derive from Final Fantasy VII, as it has been confirmed that Serendipity is inspired by Gold Saucer. The racing is similar, with the player racing with chocobos they have captured from the wild and then raised, chocobos running on a track and there being a choice of short or long course. The player can bet on the race's outcome, and race with their own chocobo.
Similar to Final Fantasy VII chocobos have a boost gauge that slowly refills and is drained when the chocobo dashes. The chocobos' basic stats (speed and stamina) are shown before the race so the player can predict the outcome, but as in real world sports betting, chocobos with lower odds net more prize money if they happen to win, whereas in Final Fantasy VII the placement of prizes is just random.
There are five race tiers of varying difficulty and each yield different items upon succeeding, and the player must move up ranks by winning races. Secret races also exist, which can be entered after clearing specific conditions. The player can give their chocobo different skills that can be activated during race, and with the "Race Point" system a single chocobo can only enter a limited amount of races before forced to retire.
Chocobo racing is an entirely optional part of the game.
Chocobo racing is one of the minigames which appears in the Manderville Gold Saucer. It functions similarly to the minigame in Final Fantasy VII, which it mostly alludes to—the theme is also a remix of the one used in the Final Fantasy VII racing.
Chocobo racing against NPCs has been said to be a minigame in Final Fantasy XV, but no details are currently known.
The player cannot race chocobos, but they can bet on them. Four chocobos will compete in a race and the player can bet 100 coins and try to predict which one will win. The chocobo's speed and chocobo combinations determine if the player's chocobo wins.