|Important Items in this Area|
|Counter Attack Materia|
|Knights of the Round Materia|
Why race Chocobos? After winning three races, the victorious Chocobo will move up a rank and race superior birds for better prizes. Prizes are cool, and it’s the best way to earn GP in the Gold Saucer, but higher-rank Chocobos also have a better chance of breeding colored Chocobos. This wasn’t necessary for the Blue and Green Chocobos, but for the Black and Gold ones… well, the time spent racing is probably going to be less than the time spent struggling over the low odds of breeding them from low-rank Chocobos. Note that you must have Cloud back in your party before you can race Chocobos, as the Gold Saucer is closed before then.
Now that you’re motivated to race (right…?), let’s get onto the preparation. A Chocobo that hasn’t been fed Greens hasn’t developed its stats yet, and a faster, smarter bird with more stamina is naturally going to win more races. This is where things get expensive, however, as the best Greens for racing, Sylkis Greens (purchase them from the Chocobo Sage), cost 5000 Gil each. It’ll take ten to twenty Sylkis Greens to make a Chocobo race-worthy, which means it’ll cost 50,000 to 100,000 Gil per racing Chocobo. Selling an All Materia or two will set you up nicely, and really… it’s hard to put a price on the most powerful attack in the game. Chocobos who don’t have their stats raised with Greens will have a lower speed and stamina, which is bad enough, but worse still, their intelligence and co-operation stats will be low, as well, meaning they won’t go where you tell them to under manual race controls, and will run stupidly on automatic controls.
Feed each Chocobo you plan to race either ten to twenty Sylkis Greens (depending on how much you care about their stats), then head over to the Gold Saucer, enter the Chocobo Square and talk to Ester, who is standing near the "STAFFROOM" sign. She’ll let you enter races, as well as tell you what the controls are, in case you forgot. Winning each race should be simple, if your Chocobo is up to snuff. Accelerate to your top running (not sprinting) speed and hold down R1 + R2 ([PAGE DOWN] + [TARGET] on the PC version) to regenerate stamina as you race, and sprint when you reach the winding blue path at the end of the track if you have the stamina for it (and if you even need to). Also, for the sake of speeding things ups, pick the short courses.
Every time you win a race, you’ll get a prize depending on the rank you’re in, and the race-card (1st and 2nd place Chocobos) which won. In effect, this means most of the time the computer is choosing which random prize you’ll win, and in most cases, the GP is worth more than the item itself. After winning three races with the same Chocobo you’ll move up a rank, starting at C rank, then moving to B, then A, and finally S. Your normal Chocobos - any of the Chocobos you capture in the wild - will probably struggle to make it to A rank. Fortunately for "Good" and "Great" Chocobos, they don’t need to reach A Rank; B rank should be sufficient. Getting a "Wonderful" Chocobo to A rank should be easier, and it should be your goal.
All told, you should race at least twenty-four races; enough to get Green, Blue, Black and Wonderful Chocobos up to A rank. Racing "Good", "Great" or a Gold Chocobo is optional, but it can’t hurt to score some GP, Megalixirs and if you’re lucky, perhaps a Counter Attack Materia or two. There’s only one complication to Chocobo racing; in A and S rank races (and very, very rarely in B rank races), Joe - the jockey you met after your brief stint in Corel Prison - will start showing up. Simply put, his bird is a phenom, and will likely out-stat your Chocobo (not to mention the normal competition) until you get a Gold Chocobo that’s been fed with plenty of Sylkis Greens. He doesn’t show up all the time (although you can expect him more often than not in S rank races), so he’s a hazard you can just endure until you’ve got a bird who can compete.
Breeding Black and Gold Chocobos
Once you have an A rank Blue Chocobo and an A rank Green Chocobo, mate them together, feed them a Carob Nut and with a little luck, you’ll end up with a Black Chocobo. Once done, make a note of the Black Chocobo’s gender and fly to the Icicle Inn area, where you’ll find some Chocobo tracks just south of the town. Land on a convenient patch of grass and run around the tracks to find Chocobos, in this case "Wonderful" Chocboos, which are only found exclusively with Jumping enemies; large rabbits with a relatively high chance to dodge attacks. Catch a "Wonderful" Chocobo of the opposite gender to your Black Chocobo, feed them both Sylkis Greens, and get them to A rank (or S rank, if you’re really ambitious). To get a Gold Chocobo, you’ll need to breed a high-ranking Black Chocobo and a "Wonderful" Chocobo and feed them a Zeio Nut , which can be stolen from Goblins on Goblin Island (in the forests of some island north of the Chocobo Ranch).
Once you’ve got your Gold Chocobo, it’s time to get to looting. You can also race the Gold Chocobo as much as your heart desires, as it should be able to defeat any competition you might come up against; even S rank Joe. If you have a mind to attempt the Battle Arena later, harvest GP by racing. It also won’t hurt to get the unique Materia you can only get as prizes from Chocobo racing (Enemy Away Materia, Sneak Attack Materia) and Accessories (Cat’s Bell, Sprint Shoes). It’s also the only way you’ll get more Counter Attack Materia, besides leveling up the one you already have. If you win ten S rank races with the same Chocobo, Ester will reward you with Sprint Shoes , a Precious Watch , a Cat’s Bell , a Chocobracelet and a piece of Counter Attack Materia .
Chocobo Race Rewards
There are plenty of prizes to win in the Chocobo races, some of which are unique. The best of these items will be discussed here. To start off with there are somewhat mundane items like Elixirs, Megalixirs and Turbo Ethers that might be worth keep… or at least the former two. As for armor, there’s a Chocobracelet, which is… pretty uninspiring at this point in the game, honestly. The Precious Watch boasts absolutely no defensive stats, but it does have eight Materia sockets (albeit unjoined ones). Sprint Shoes are nifty accessories that automatically put their wearer in Haste status, which will spare you the trouble of casting "Big Guard" in fights that don’t warrant an expenditure of MP. A Cat’s Bell accessory will restore the HP of the wearer while walking around, but at a rate too slow to be of much use.
Enemy Away Materia… well, it reduces the odds of encountering enemies, for moments when you’d really prefer not to be bothered (one of these might prove useful later). Sneak Attack Materia will give the user a 20% chance per level of automatically casting the paired magic when the battle begins (up to 80% at level four). Magic Counter works like Counter Attack Materia, but it counters with the paired Materia when the character is attacked (a higher level Materia increases the odds of counter attacking). And of course, good old Counter Attack Materia, which physically counters when attacked. This is the only place in the game where this Materia can be stock-piled, and if you get enough Counter Attack Materia on a single character, you can essentially win pretty much any fight in the game by just letting the enemy provoke several counter attacks every time they act.
The accessories and Materia start showing up in higher ranked races, and tend to be worth a good bit of GP, if you find that you don’t need these items. A list of all the items you can win by rank can be found below.
|Counter Attack Materia||S|
|Enemy Away Materia||300||A||S|
|Magic Counter Materia||500||S|
|Sneak Attack Materia||300||A||S|
Note: If you need GP but can’t be bothered to race Chocobos (shame on you!), there’s another way to get GP without having to mess around with any stupid mini-games. In the Ropeway Station in the Golden Saucer there will be a man in overalls who occasionally spawns north of the Save Point (just enter and exit the station repeatedly until he shows up). If you talk to him, he’ll offer to sell you some GP… at the price of 100 Gil per GP. This guy will only spawn after Cloud rejoins the party in disc two.
With the Black Chocobo in your possession, you can now ride it and get a new piece of unique Materia. Head over to Costa del Sol and ride over to the entrance to the mountain pass that leads to North Corel. If you ride over the river to the east you’ll find some desert. Continue east to find a mountain range and enter a cave, wherein you’ll find the HP⇔MP Materia , which, as the name suggests, switches your HP and MP values. If you’re expecting some hidden Materia combination or tactic that makes this stuff useful, then… well, you’re out of luck. This Materia just isn’t very useful. You can use it to build up a character’s Limit Gauge by fighting weak enemies (since your Limit Gauge charges based on a percentage of damage taken, not total) but aside from that… eh… you’ll never need to use it.
Knights of the Round Materia
The Golden Chocobo is the best mobility option in the game. It can run over mountains, rivers, even the ocean, and unlike the wussy Highwind, you can even reach, say, an island in the middle of the ocean surrounded by mountains and covered by forests. Speaking of which… such an island - which you can only reach with a Gold Chocobo - exists. Ride your Gold Chocobo to the north-eastern corner of the map, deep into the ocean, where you’ll find Round Island. Head inside the cave on the forested island to find the fabled Knights of the Round Materia , which allows you to cast what is perhaps one of the most gloriously over-powered attacks in gaming. What else can you say? Give it a cast and see. It costs a whopping 250 MP, but for that hefty price you’ll summon thirteen knights that each hit all enemies for several thousand points of damage (thus surpassing the 9999 damage cap). Pair with a character with a high Magic score and/or MP Turbo Materia, this spell can do well over 100,000 damage a casting, and it is a prime target for the Mime command. Mix with with HP Absorb and/or MP Absorb, and it’ll full heal the caster every time you use it, too.
Once you have the four rare Materia that can only be obtained by breeding Chocobos (Mime, Quadra Magic, HP⇔MP and Knights of the Round) and you’ve raced to your heart’s content, you’ll finally be done with Chocobos. You could, with your new-found stash of GP, take on the Battle Arena, but this will be easier once you have some better weapons. Instead, consider taking on the challenges of the "Ancient Forest" , or, if you want to get back into the story, skip ahead to the "Underwater Reactor" section.