History of the Chocobo

A true and complete history of the bestial motif of the Final Fantasy saga.

“Wark! Wark!” or sometimes “Kweh!”  The famous call of the Chocobo (チョコボ) is immediately recognizable by those of us fortunate enough to have followed the Final Fantasy series like maniacal religious fanatics.

Although disappointment comes to mind when daydreaming of my recent ventures into the newest of the Final Fantasy world, the Chocobo nevertheless always puts a smile on my face.  Cute and cuddly while at the same time making great pack animals and adventuring companions you can’t beat the Chocobo when it comes to animal companionship.

Today I thought it would be fun to take a look back at the history of the Chocobo whose familiar appearance and call has become a signature staple of any Final Fantasy game.

The Chocobo was first created by Koichi Ishii, a video game director who worked on various Final Fantasy titles.  Koichi said the original idea for the chocobo was based on Kyorochan, a character in TV ads for a chocolate candy who is also a bird with the call of “kweh”.  Another inspiration for the Chocobo is thought to be Hayao Miyazaki’s Horseclaws, which appears in the film Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

Most Chocobos are yellow, but there are usually certain rare breeds that are of different colors, each of which has a unique ability.  For example in Final Fantasy IV Black Chocobo has the ability to fly, but not over tall mountains.  Chocobos are occasionally used as war mounts, assisting their riders in battle with beak and claw attacks.  They can even sometimes appear as comic relief such as the Fat Chocobo that can eat the characters items and store them for later retrieval.

First appearing in Final Fantasy II, the Chocobo can only be found in the forest south of Kashuan Keep. It retreats to the forest immediately after being dismounted, and is therefore chiefly used as a quick escape to Bafsk from Kashuan and nearby areas.  Yoshitaka Amano’s original artwork for the chocobo was quite different from what would become the recurring design of the creature.

In Final Fantasy III the Fat Chocobo is able to store items when given Gysahl Greens. He can only be summoned in places that smell of Chocobo. Chocobos can be found in several Chocobo forests and ridden around the world map and in several parts of Saronia. There is even a small side quest involving riding a Chocobo around the Floating Continent.

Final Fantasy IV which was released in the US to great fanfare as FF II, featured the Chocobo in many locations.  They are scattered in Chocobo Forests throughout the world where they can be found and utilized for travel.  The Fat Chocobo will appear wherever a place is found that “smells like Chocobos!” using a carrot.  The Fat Chocobo will store your items for later.  Rydia is also to learn a summon spell for Chocobo which does minimal damage but is useful early in the game.

In Final Fantasy V, Bartz Klauser owns Boco, arguably the most famous chocobo in the series. Boco is left behind at the Pirates’ Hideout for most of the game, however, upon reaching the Third World, Boco rejoins Bartz, now married to a chocobo called Koko, and having had children with her. Bartz can then ride Boco around the world. Boco does not run away upon dismounting. There are several side quests involving Boco.  The black chocobo appears in this game as well, and plays a similar role to the black chocobo in Final Fantasy IV. It can only land in forests, however, it can also fly over mountains that are not capped in snow. Bartz and his friends ride a black chocobo after the Steamship is sucked under the water during an earthquake at Crescent. The black chocobo can be found again in Mirage Village in the Third World, and is necessary in order to reach the Phoenix Tower and the North Mountains.

Final Fantasy VI marked the first occasion where Chocobos could be rented in various towns and stables located around the world. The stables are hidden in forests, making them the equivalent of Chocobo Forests. Setzer Gabbiani has a Slot called Chocobop that summons Chocobos into battle. Strago and Relm can also equip a piece of armor called the Chocobo Suit. Jidoor’s Auction House also likes to auction a Chocobo they claim can speak, although the player can never confirm nor deny this; an old man and his son always place the winning bid on this particular item.

In Final Fantasy VII, the player must equip the Chocobo Lure materia and encounter enemies nearby Chocobo tracks in order for a Chocobo to appear in battle. Chocobos can be caught by defeating all enemies except the Chocobo itself. The Chocobo will quickly run away from a battle unless fed a green to prevent it from running away. After acquiring the Highwind and buying stalls at the Chocobo Stables, the player can keep Chocobos, and even transport one on the Junon Cargo Ship. It is possible to breed Chocobos to generate different colored ones. The different breeds of Chocobo allow the player to travel across different terrain. There are yellow, green/blue, black and gold varieties of Chocobo. There are four Materia Caves that can only be reached by certain varieties of Chocobo. There are also Chocobo races at the Gold Saucer. These are different colors from the normal Chocobo, including pink and white. In addition, there is a Summon Materia that can be found early on in the game, which summons Choco/Mog. The summon can sometimes attack with Fat Chocobo.

The Chocobo legacy continues not only for many more Final Fantasy games, but also into a whole line-up of Chocobo games where our fine feathered friends get to play the lead role.  I myself wish to stop the history lesson at Final Fantasy 7 because I really believe that this was one of the last great Final Fantasy games ever released.

Our Chocobo companions care not for the quality of the games though and will always be there to give us a ride or cheer us up when we feel down.  If not the Chocobo a vital part of the Final Fantasy world would be missing.


Article first published as History of Chocobos on Technorati.

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About Jonathan G. Nelson

Jonathan G. Nelson is the editor-in-chief and owner of NERD TREK. He is also owner/publisher at AAW Games / AdventureAWeek.com, a tabletop gaming company based in Snoqualmie, WA. Connect with Jonathan via Facebook.