A common lament of RPG fans is that today's games are just too complicated. Every game bombards players with its own special "systems" to be painstakingly learnt and pointlessly mastered. Whatever happened to the good old days, when you just picked up a game and played? Square's Chocobo's Dungeon 2 is a return to those "good old days," with a simple interface and randomly generated dungeons that owe more to multi-user dungeons like Rogue and NetHack than to Final Fantasy. But as gamers may discover after a few hours with Chocobo's Dungeon 2, "simpler" is often a euphemism for "more boring."

   Chocobo and a friend explore a sequence of randomly generated dungeons, defeating enemies, grabbing treasure, and advancing to the next floor. Unfortunately, the random dungeon generation algorithm seems endlessly stuck on the same note; gamers are made to traverse room after room connected by hall after hall, never once finding a single puzzle, switch, or other obstacle in their way. Invisible, randomly placed floor traps and an endless stream of enemies are the only impediments to Chocobo's journey. Movement are handled in psuedo-realtime; Chocobo's movements start and stop the flow of time for the rest of the world. Battles rarely advance beyond Chocobo and an enemy whacking each other until one of them falls. While the gameplay is enjoyable enough (for what it is), its simplicity keeps the player from ever engaging with the game on more than a visceral level.

Bahamut and a Behemoth

   Presentation is slightly above average. Music is mostly inoffensive, peppy, but ultimately forgetful remixes of the Chocobo theme, while sound effects are straight from Square's universal "muffled 16-bit library." The character graphics are well-rendered and extraordinarily cute. Final Fantasy fans will delight in seeing their favorite creatures rendered in soft, squishy, glorious 3D. Sadly, the dungeon graphics and town graphics are host to repetitive textures and bland design. Spell effects, too, seem underwhelming when compared to the recent Final Fantasy VIII or Chrono Cross. While the presentation is certainly solid, Chocobo's Dungeon 2 is short on gratuitous eye candy.

   Despite our mixed feelings on the title, the game is fun to play. In fact, with only minimal story and presentation, the focus on pure gameplay has made for a "mysteriously" fun title. But the hacking and slashing soon becomes repetitive, and most gamers will find themselves reaching for another, more substantial title. Younger players and die-hard Final Fantasy fans will no doubt enjoy it; all others are advised to rent first.

Review by Fritz Fraundorf, GIA.
Chocobo's Dungeon 2
Developer Chun Soft
Publisher Square
Genre Action RPG
Medium CD (1)
Platform Sony Playstation
Release Date  12.23.98
Chocobo's Dungeon 2 ships early
Intro movie / 18 intro screen shots
17 character designs
North American box art