Chocobo World

Introduction

Chocobo World is a minigame in Final Fantasy VIII, designed to be run on the Sony PocketStation, a mini handheld that was never released outside Japan. Even the PAL version of FFVIII included the minigame for download, however.

Story

Mog, a moogle, wants to go treasure hunting on Scary Mountain with his friends Cactuar, Moomba, and Boko the chicobo. The others are too frightened, so Mog decides to go adventuring solo. Three days pass without Mog's return, worrying his friends, who embark on a quest to find him. Boko leads the group, while Cactuar volunteers to gather items and Moomba offers to find weapons.

Gameplay

Chocobo World is a simple game with graphics comprised of a limited number of black and white pixels. Although the game can be played by itself, it's primarily intended as a minigame to Final Fantasy VIII. First, the player must find Boko in the world of Final Fantasy VIII. This accomplished, the player is given another slot on the file save screen titled Chocobo World. This slot acts as an interface for communicating between the virtual worlds of Final Fantasy VIII and Chocobo World. From this screen, players can send Boko into Chocobo World to gain experience and collect items and can later bring him back into Final Fantasy VIII, in turn transferring the data from Chocobo World to Final Fantasy VIII.

Exploration

In Chocobo World, Boko perpetually wanders around a nondescript landscape in search of "events" to interact with, such as enemy battles, friendly encounters with Moomba and Cactuar, and "special" events. Depending on how the player sets the "Move" option, Boko may break from his path to navigate to the nearest event perpendicular to his direction of travel. Players can also turn off the "Event Wait" option, eliminating the need for player input to advance, although choosing this option prevents Boko from encountering special events. At any time, players can intervene and halt Boko's computer-controlled movement in favor of manually controlling him.

Events are shown on the map as black dots, while Boko's location is represented by a flickering black dot. When an event is cleared, it vanishes on the map, only to be replaced by another in a random location. When Boko gains a level of experience through battling enemies, the map resets and randomly redistributes events across the world.

Battle system

Battles are the most common event the player encounters in Chocobo World. Upon confronting an enemy, the player is thrust into the battle screen. Once engaged in battle, the player's only option is to fight until either the enemy or Boko is defeated. Combatant health is represented by numerical "hit points" (HP) displayed on the far sides of the playing screen; whoever's count of hit points reaches zero first loses the battle.

Combat relies on a variant of the Active Time Battle (ATB) system featured in Final Fantasy VIII. In battle, Boko and his opponent each have a time counter; the first combatant's counter to reach zero is allowed to attack, upon which both time counters reset and the process repeats itself. By alternately pressing the left and right buttons, players can speed up Boko's time counter, reducing the time required for him to attack.

Upon winning a battle, Boko receives a magic stone which is randomly placed on a tic-tac-toe-style board. If three stones line up in a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal row, Boko gains a "level" of experience, which increases his hit point count in Chocobo World and his strength in Final Fantasy VIII. If the player finds Mog within Chocobo World, he will assist Boko in battle as a last resort, i.e., if Boko himself is defeated, Mog will attack the enemy (an attack analogous to the Limit Break in Final Fantasy games). If Mog's attack fails to defeat the enemy, he leaves his partner and Boko loses the battle. After losing any battle, Boko must rest to restore his hit points, but the player is allowed to continue the game without penalty for defeat.

In some events, Boko is approached by Moomba, who gives his friend a weapon. A weapon is simply a series of four numbers that determines Boko's attacking power. During battle, the computer randomly chooses one of the four digits on the weapon number to determine the damage Boko inflicts, or the number his attack subtracts from the enemy's hit point count. If, for example, the weapon is 8531, then Boko's damage dealt to the enemy will be randomly chosen from the digits "8," "5," "3," and "1."

When played on the PocketStation, players can pit their Chicobos against one another using the PocketStation's optical communication function. If you win the fight you are allowed to "imprint" the loser's ID on your own Chicobo and possibly improve your rank.

The infrared handshake protocol used has been analyzed and documented, so it's possible to initiate a Chocobo World PvP battle using (for example) a PalmPilot with an infrared port to simulate a second PocketStation. See below.

Collecting items

Another event in Chocobo World involves Cactuar finding items for Boko. Cactuar appears on the event screen and gives Boko one of four items, labeled A, B, C, and D. Although these items are useless in Chocobo World, they can be "imported" to the world of Final Fantasy VIII to be accessed in the player's item inventory. Depending on your rank, the probability of Cactuar finding "D" rank items is greatest, but they are among the most common items in Final Fantasy VIII (e.g., basic status recovery items). Conversely, the probability of Cactuar finding "A" rank items is lowest, but they are very rare items.

Special events

After gaining ten levels of experience, Boko can find Mog in Chocobo World.

When the player first gains twenty experience levels with Boko, a female Chocobo named Coco bumps into him, and he falls in love with her.

When Boko reaches fifty experience levels, Coco falls into a pit and Boko uses his fishing pole to rescue her. Grateful, Coco gives him a kiss, allowing Boko to execute a more powerful attack in Final Fantasy VIII when summoned by the player.

At level seventy-five, Boko, Moomba, and Cactuar sit back to watch a fireworks display.

At level one hundred, the Demon King captures Coco, and after level one hundred Boko must pursue and defeat the Demon King to rescue his love.

Afterwards, there is a small chance that Coco will appear twice more to kiss Boko for a total of three kisses, with each kiss upgrading his attack in Final Fantasy VIII.

Ranking

The game instance has an ID, derived from the last three digits of the serial number of the PocketStation. The ID determines the initial rank of your chicobo, according to this table:

Correspondence between ID and rank
ID Rank
211 1
000,008,777 2
All digits same 3
Ending in 00 4
Ending in 77 5
Ending in 7 6
Any other number 7

The rank affects your maximum hit points, the maximum weapon you can get as well as the distribution of the four kinds of item that you will find. At rank 7 you will rarely acquire any "A" items in Chocobo World, whereas at rank 1 the distribution between the four types of item will be more or less even.

Terms

System ID
A three-digit BCD value, initially derived from the PocketStation's serial number. See also "Ranking".
Hidden ID
A four-octet hexadecimal value which identifies the current instance of the game.
Weapon
A four-digit BCD value, as used in the game.
HP
A two-digit BCD value, as used in the game.

The Infrared Protocol

(See also ORbuild)

Handshake

1. First, the challenger sends a challenge packet. The packet format consists of the following (all integers in inverse Network Byte Order)

Size Description
4 octets 0xFF000000
4 octets challenger's hidden ID
2 octets challenger's system ID in BCD format
2 octets challenger's weapon in BCD format
1 octet challenger's HP
1 octet 0x08
10 octets a sequence of 0x00 octets
5 octets a repeat of the system ID, weapon and HP
11 octets a sequence of unknown data, may be NUL
1 octet a simple checksum of everything from the challenger's system ID (inclusive) up to here

2. The responder sends a response packet with unknown contents.

3. The challenger acknowledges with a simple packet, about 1.5 seconds after the challenge packet:

Size Description
4 octets challenger's hidden ID
4 octets responder's hidden ID
4 octets challenger's hidden ID
4 octets responder's hidden ID

After this, the actual fight starts, on the responder's PocketStation.

Example

Here is an example packet, a challenge from a game instance with a hidden ID of "0xFEEDBEEF", a system ID of 0x211, the weapon "0x1111" and a HP of 1:

Offset Data
0x00 FF000000
0x04 EFBEEDFE
0x08 1102
0x0A 1111
0x0C 01
0x0D 08
0x0E 00000000000000000000
0x18 1102
0x1A 1111
0x1C 01
0x1D 0000000000000000000000
0x28 74

Modulation

The infrared signaling of Chocobo World uses Sony style modulation, with a carrier frequency of 40kHz, a lead-in of 2400μs of light followed by 600 μs of no light, a "1" sent as 1200 μs of light followed by 600 μs of no light, and a "0" sent as 600 μs of light followed by 600 μs of no light, and a with a high tolerance for error. After the last bit sent, there is a "lead-out" pause consisting of at least 25350 μs of no light.