I’m going to start off this article by stating that I have never played Final Fantasy before. I don’t really know what a Chocobo is. But, when I saw Chocobo Party Up! at UKGE 2019, I loved the look of the little birds in their land and so was compelled to give it a go.
This gorgeous tabletop game has you trying to lead silly chocobos back to your nest, to make a little herd of them. You start off as a set of colored birds who want to add a bunch of friends to their nest. Across the board is a bunch of footprints where you can cry for more birds to come, as well as an oasis in the middle.
On your turn you roll a dice to define what you can do in the turn. You get to make a number of moves equal to the number shown on the dice, but if you roll a one you gain a card, and if you roll a four you cannot cry out. You then a card if you wish, and then move your chocobo across the board and cry out if you are in the oasis or on a spot with footprints. Crying out will summon another bird, without your color, to your tile. You can have up to five birds (including your own) on a tile, three wild chocobos, and two team chocobo. If you only have one of your chocobo on a tile then the wild chocobo can be stolen. Meanwhile moving a second of your chocobos onto a tile will kick off a rival team’s chocobo.
Movement between these tiles is not one bird at a time. You can lead uncoloured Chocobos with you, leading them back to your nest. If you do cry out on your turn then you also get a card from a face down deck. These cards can then be used before any movement when it is your turn again. Sometimes they call birds towards you and other times they allow you to place more footprint tiles back in play. You can even trade two of these cards for a giant chocobo.
A giant chocobo takes the place of two normal chocobos, meaning that no birds from other factions can be on a tile with it. Big chocobos also cannot be kicked off, so birds are safe with them. This is quite powerful as not even your nest is safe! Enemies can come into your nest and take your yellow chocobos, bringing them back to theirs.
Chocobo Party Up! can be played by three players on one side of the board or four players if the board is flipped around and a little expansion piece is added onto it. The design of the game is truly wonderful — the art on the cards, board and meeples is some of the best I have seen. Although I don’t really know what a chocobo is, I found it very cute that they were these little goofy birds which need to be helped around the map and protected.
Chocobo Party Up! was being sold at UKGE ahead of its release date later this year. I cannot really find much information about it online, except from this tweet from Square Enix, but it’s a game I can recommend keeping an eye on, as it is both well done and fun to play.