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ChoroQ
Review By: Jared Black
 
Developer:  Takara
Publisher:  Atlus
# Of Players:  1-2
Genre:  Racing/RPG
ESRB:  Everyone
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card
Date Posted:  10-27-04

In our current age of genre-bending games, perhaps none is as weird as the CAR-PG.  Pro Race Driver and Car Battler Joe explored this sub-genre in their own ways, but neither matches the sheer depth of ChoroQ.  Of course, neither matches the plodding pace, saccharine sweet music, or retina-burning graphics either.

In ChoroQ, the cars are the stars.  That’s right, the cars are actually sentient beings.  The game starts out with the player as the new kid (car) on the block, equipped with only the most basic parts available.  The player then earns money racing, which in turn is used to purchase even better parts.  There are a ton of parts that can be upgraded, including wheels, bodies, engines, accessories, and many other types.  Some make more of a difference than others and money is limited in the early going, so upgrading smartly is the key to succeeding and advancing up the ranks.

Since this is being touted as a role-playing game as well as a racing game, there’s obviously a fair amount of dialogue to be found.  However, almost all of it is poorly translated and kept to the bare minimum.  Talking to random NPCs usually reveals a conversation like this:

Player: “Hello”
NPC: “Do I know you?”

The good RPG stuff lies in the fact that there’s a lot to do, including 200 vehicles to acquire, 160 different tracks, 100+ different events, 30 mini-games, and an ample story mode.  The events and mini-games usually take place in the overworld, made up of a number of different connected cities.  These contain the aforementioned NPCs roaming around, various shops to purchase upgrades, and a variety of other types of buildings (schools, cafes, etc.).  Like I mentioned before though, talking to almost anyone other than someone important to the storyline is a waste of time.

As far as the story mode is concerned, most important information comes in the form of letters, which arrive at the player’s garage.  The garage serves as the home base, allowing the player to shop over the in-game Internet (only shops visited in person), read letters, get various information, customize, and save the game among other things.  It’s also here that the player can go directly to each race.

So the RPG part is pretty good, but the racing is not and as a result makes the good stuff nearly worthless.  Even far into the game, ChoroQ never really develops a decent sense of speed so there’s very little payoff for progressing in the storyline.  This problem is compounded by the fact that races often fall into two categories: those in which the player blows away the competition and those in which the player gets blown away by the competition.  Very rarely are races actually close, meaning for the most part the player is stuck slowly rounding each track by himself.  Boring.  While there is a wide variety of courses and terrain types, the only real difference between them is that some require a different set of tires or other accessories to navigate them properly.  Forget actually wrecking either, as these cars simply bounce around until they correct themselves.

The graphics certainly don’t help, as they’re barely a cut above the best the PSone had to offer.  Everything is bright and cheery, with a heavy usage of primary colors and cute characters.  Buildings and other environmental objects are almost always simplistic, made up of flat textures and a minimal amount of polygons.  Virtually all buildings are identical with NO furniture or other objects inside of them, only differentiated by a different kind of wallpaper and flooring.

Ditto for the sound, where almost every piece of music sounds like the stereotypical happy-fun music you’d find in the opening city of a RPG.  It isn’t even that good either.  The sound effects are very basic blips and blops that do nothing to enhance the experience. 

HIGHS:

  • Tons of parts to customize, tracks to race on, and events to participate in.

  • The story mode is somewhat interesting.

LOWS:

  • The graphics are barely above PSone level.
  • The music is almost always generic Japanese happy fun pop, which is bearable in short spurts but not constantly.
  • Dialogue is horrible.
  • The racing never develops a good sense of speed, opponent AI is basic, and most races are spent alone either in front or back of the pack depending on current equipment.

FINAL VERDICT:

I really want to like this game for it's depth, but just can't.  After all, what good is having a lot to do if you don’t enjoy doing it?  ChoroQ provides a deep customization system and some interesting RPG elements, but fails where it matters most: the actual racing.  The result is a game that won’t quite satisfy racing fans and won’t quite satisfy RPG fans.  There are other racing games available that already provide everything this game does (possible exception being a deep story mode), and are actually fun to play as well.

The fact that EB is already offering ChoroQ for $14.99 before the game even ships (the original MSRP is $19.99) isn’t a good sign either.  ChoroQ might make a decent bargain purchase for younger children (who won’t care about the lack of speed) or RPG fanatics (who’ll get a lot more out of the RPG elements) looking to try something new, but everyone else should probably steer clear.

Overall Score: 4.0

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