RPGs with dungeons that feature random floor generation tend to be on the more difficult side. I immediately think of games like Azure Dreams or Izuna; games that throw you into a dungeon with varying mazes, monsters, mysteries and mayhem. Their tough nature makes them difficult to recommend. Chocobo’s Dungeon 2 is similar to the above mentioned games in that all of the dungeons that Chocobo visits have random layouts and various spikes in difficulty. However, Chocobo’s Dungeon 2 is is a lot more new-user friendly for gamers interested in this sub-genre. While more forgiving with its difficulty, there are still moments in which the game can be just as frustrating.
Chocobo’s Dungeon 2 begins with Chocobo and Mog journeying to a dungeon in hopes of acquiring treasures. During their treasure hunt, Mog finds a lever. Giving into temptation, Mog pulls said lever and activates a trap that sends Chocobo soaring out of the dungeon. His injuries are nursed back to health by a white mage named Shiroma. Upon returning to the dungeon, Chocobo, Mog, and Shiroma discover a mysterious crystal that sends the entire structure to the bottom of the ocean. Everyone gets washed ashore a village run by monsters. Chocobo is determined to find his way back into that dungeon. Along the way, he might be able to help Shiroma, Mog and other residents of the village with their troubles. Chocobo’s Dungeon 2 has a heartwarming story where we get to see the titular character interact with a variety of classic Final Fantasy monsters. Ultimately, Shiroma’s mysterious past becomes the focus of the tale and Chocobo’s reason for continuing to navigate these bizarre dungeons. The story won’t win any awards, but it’s enjoyable watching it unfold.
Most of the time in Chocobo’s Dungeon 2 is unsurprisingly spent in dungeons. Chocobo and a partner (either controlled by the computer or a second player) will move from floor to floor while fighting enemies, picking up various items, and dealing with traps. Similar to Azure Dreams, everyone remains still when Chocobo remains still. When Chocobo acts, then the rest of the participants on the screen will act. This lets you plan Chocobo’s position and give you as much time as needed before carrying on. Chocobo can equip claws, saddles and collars. He can carry a certain amount of items. One of the most important items he can use are spell books. As spells are used, they increase in power. Magic is significantly more powerful than Chocobo’s regular attack.
Magic being so much more powerful than Chocobo’s regular strike is a major blessing. The usual trappings of a dungeon crawler can end Chocobo’s trek prematurely. When that happens he loses all of his gear and inventory. Plus, his gil count is cut in half. The good news is that Chocobo retains his levels and abilities when he’s knocked out. Also, feather items remain in his inventory. Teleportation Tags, the item necessary to exit a dungeon unharmed, are cheap and accessible. The game throws players a bone in the way of dungeon shortcuts; reaching certain floors in a dungeon means you can access them when you return. In other words, you don’t have to worry about starting from the first floor. The biggest issue is that each dungeon feels like a massive hurdle instead of a gradual one. You’ll be spending a lot of time exiting the first couple of floors of a new dungeon after getting bombarded with new and powerful enemies. After regrouping and heading back in, it’s time for more of the same. It takes a while before Chocobo can be considered ready to go further into the current dungeon. One way to make Chocobo more battle ready is to utilize stoves. These let you combine claws and saddles to make them more durable and powerful. It’s a tedious but necessary process.
One thing that never gets tedious is the game’s look. Chocobo’s Dungeon 2 uses a unique graphical style that reminds me of my favorite game of all time: SaGa Frontier. The colors are bright, the models are detailed, the environments are varied, and the spell effects are over the top. Staying true to Squaresofts style from the time, plenty of beautiful FMV scenes are included in the game to move the story along. These are always a joy to watch because they have the polish expected of the developer but feature the adorable, cartoon stylings of the Chocobo series. The music is a mixture of old Final Fantasy tunes and some original ones. It’s nothing major but it works for the game.
I was able to finish Chocobo’s Dungeon 2 in about 30 hours after participating in some minor side events and going to-and-fro between the dungeons and the village hub. Finishing the game unlocks plenty of bonus content that has its own share of challenges. For me, going through the game and seeing the credits roll was plenty. But, the option for extra dungeon exploration is there. Chocobo’s Dungeon 2 is a cute game with some surprising grit. The Final Fantasy setting is warm and familiar, but the gameplay and story won’t deliver that epic Final Fantasy feeling fans know so well. Instead, this is a game geared towards novice dungeon travelers. Getting your feet wet with Chocobo’s challenges is a good (and adorable) way to get ready for more difficult dungeon crawlers.
Overall, 6.5/10: This isn’t the usual Final Fantasy flair. Chocobo has to “wark” his way through a series of trials in a simple, sweet, but still stimulating dungeon crawler.