I have played Final Fantasy VII to completion probably a half-dozen times since it came out, and I have bred a gold chocobo each time. It’s kind of like a rite of passage in that game. Even my first time doing it, though, way back in high school, the process of catching and rearing chocobos was an obtuse and mystical thing that most players didn’t figure out without a guide.
This week I once again went in search of a guide, and like any popular fifteen-year-old game, found several. And I needed several, too, because a lot of the superstition and misinformation that crept into the process way back in 1997 is still floating around today, and the people who have cracked the game down to its barest chunks tend to go a little overboard explaining all the mechanics involved. So if you use an old guide you are likely to end up doing way more work than is required, but if you use a new one you are going to have to plug your nose and wade through a lot of number-crunching to find the information you need.
I thought I would help future generations of FF7 players (and re-players) by providing a complete, concise guide in an easy-to-follow step-by-step process.
When can I start?
You can begin the process after you gain control of the Highwind on Disc Two, but you can’t actually complete it until Cloud and Tifa rejoin the party. The earliest you can have a gold chocobo, plot-wise, is before going to the Underwater Reactor in Junon.
How do I raise the money?
The biggest hurdle in the breeding process is going to be your wallet. At bare minimum, you will have to account for the following expenses:
- Four pens at the Chocobo Ranch (40,000 gil)
- Three trips to Gold Saucer (9,000 gil)
- Chocobo Lure materia (2,000 gil)
- About thirty Sylkis Greens (150,000 gil)
The total comes out to 201,000 gil. Fortunately this is not as bad as it sounds; you do not need to get everything all at once, and the money you need for each step will come naturally by completing the previous one.
The up-front cost is around 73,000 gil. You will probably have this in your wallet just by progressing through the story and selling off your unused equipment and materia.
Can I get the money all at once?
Yes, and it’s actually rather easy. When Cait Sith joins the party on Disc One, he comes equipped with a Transform materia. This materia is basically useless, but it is easy to master. Keep it in your active party (taking advantage of double growth weapons when possible) and it you are very likely to have it mastered by the time you get the Highwind. Mastered Transform sells for 350,000 gil, which pays for your gold chocobo and probably anything else you could possibly need at that point in the game.
How long does this take?
The process involves gathering materials, manipulating luck, killing time, and racing. The amount of time will vary but you can always thread it in between your story progression. From beginning to end it will take something like 2-3 hours.
Bare-bones Gold Chocobo Guide:
- Catch two great chocobos from the Rocket Town area.
- Steal three Carob Nuts from Vlakorados near Bone Village.
- Class B Great + Class B Great + Carob Nut = Blue or Green.
- Class B Blue + Class A Green (or vice-versa) + Carob Nut = Black.
- Catch a wonderful chocobo from the Icicle area.
- Steal a Zeio Nut from a Goblin in the forest on the tiny island at the corner of the map.
- Class A Black + Class A Wonderful + Zeio Nut = Gold.
More Detailed (but still pretty concise) Chocobo Guide:
Step One: Purchase your chocobo pens.
Each pen costs 10,000 gil. You need at least three. You can buy the fourth one later if your funds are thin.
Step Two: Catch two great chocobos.
Fly to the chocobo tracks near Rocket Town. Fight battles on the tracks until a chocobo appears with two Valrons (purple gargoyle things) or two Kyuvilduns (green grasshopper guys). Chocobos that appear with these enemy formations are “great”. Send any great chocobos you catch back to the ranch.
Step Three: Obtain three Carob Nuts.
Steal the nuts you need from giant dragon monsters called Vlakorados around Bone Village. They take forever to kill, so just steal the nut and then run. You need three.
If you don’t have a Steal materia, you can buy one in Kalm for 1,200 gil.
Step Four: Buy Sylkis Greens.
Visit the Chocobo Sage in a small valley on the northern continent. He sells Sylkis Greens for 5,000 gil per. You will eventually need about 30 of these. Right now you only need eight or ten. Buy what you can, but save at least 3,000 gil to get into the Gold Saucer.
If you absolutely cannot afford any Sylkis at the moment, all is not lost. Go to the next step anyway.
Step Five: SAVE.
Fly back to the Chocobo Ranch and save your game. This is important.
Step Six: Determine the gender of your chocobos.
Tell Choco Billy that you want to move your chocobos inside to the pens. This is when the game decides what gender your chocobos are. If your two chocobos are not opposite genders, reload and try again.
If you find you’re getting the same results every time, take some random junk actions before talking to Billy. Leaving and re-entering the ranch will do the trick, as will getting into some fights or choosing to move your chocobos in a different order.
Step Seven: Feed your chocobos.
Feed four or five Sylkis Greens to each of your great chocobos.
Step Eight: Race your chocobos.
Each visit to the Gold Saucer costs 3,000 gil, and you will need to pay three visits. The goal is to get three wins on each chocobo, advancing them to Class B. This should be trivially easy if you were able to get some Sylkis.
Class C races are possible to win even without having fed your chocobos, but it will take longer because you will have to eat some losses along the way.
You can win chocobo races even against superior opponents by following these steps:
- Select the short track. There is no benefit to playing the long one.
- When the race starts, immediately press Select to switch to Manual control.
- Press and hold R1 and R2 throughout the race to regenerate your stamina. This is your main advantage because CPU chocobos cannot do this.
- Hold your dash button until your stamina is about 75% gone, then let it fill back up.
- Towards the end of the race, just as you are crossing from the wooden bridge to the outer space area, you should have enough stamina to dash to the end.
Once both of your chocobos are Class B, fly back to the Chocobo Ranch and SAVE.
Step Nine: Breed your chocobos.
Tell Billy you want to breed your chocobos. When he asks for a nut, give him a Carob Nut. The result will be a green or blue chocobo. Note the baby’s color and gender, then go back outside and save again. (If you get a yellow chocobo, reload, perform some junk actions, then breed again.)
Step Ten: Fight some battles.
The game determines when you can breed your chocobos again by counting how many battles you fight. The number varies. My suggestion is to fight five battles, then go back and see if they’re ready. If not, go fight five more, etc.
- If you funded your breeding adventure with a mastered Transform materia, you want to get the fights over with as quickly as possible. Walk into the swamp near the Chocobo Ranch and let the Midgar Zolom run into you. This is much faster than running circles on the world map.
- If you need cash, fly to the Mideel Area and fight on the beaches. You will exclusively find monsters called Sea Worms which are total pushovers. They are weak to Ice magic, so load someone up with magic materia and some Earrings and let them lead the charge with Ice3 or Freeze. Each Sea Worm drops 5,000 gil, so fighting five of them will fund your next round of Sylkis Greens.
Step Eleven: Breed your chocobos again.
If you were only able to afford three chocobo pens earlier, this is when you need to buy your fourth.
This is the most frustrating and time-consuming step in the entire process, and is probably what accounts for most of the superstition that has crept into the gold chocobo mythos over the years. Your goal is to breed your great chocobos again, hoping for a baby of the opposite color and gender than the first. Keep resetting until that happens. If you get the same results repeatedly, do a few junk actions before breeding.
Once you have a green of one gender and a blue of the other, the hard part’s over. Tell Billy to release the two great chocobos; you don’t need them anymore.
Step Twelve: Feed your colored chocobos.
Five Sylkis Greens for each should do the trick.
Step Thirteen: Race your colored chocobos.
Race one of your birds to Class B (three wins) and the other to Class A (six wins). Make good use of the stamina recovery trick to make this easier. You will probably have a couple close finishes.
Step Fourteen: Fight some more battles.
Fight five battles, then check and see if your baby chocobos are ready to breed. If not, fight five more, etc. Again, fighting Sea Worms will fund the next round of Sylkis you need.
Step Fifteen: Breed your colored chocobos.
Mate blue to green with a Carob Nut. The result will be a black chocobo. Note its gender. (If it’s any other kind of chocobo, reload, perform some junk actions, and try again.)
Step Sixteen: Catch a wonderful chocobo.
You will find these at the chocobo tracks in the Icicle Area. They appear in battles with annoying rabbit monsters called Jumpings. Send your chocobo back to the ranch.
Step Seventeen: Feed your black and wonderful chocobos.
Five Sylkis Greens each should be sufficient.
Step Eighteen: Race your black and wonderful chocobos.
You need to get both birds up to Class A (six wins each).
Step Nineteen: Get a Zeio Nut.
You can Steal these from monsters called Goblins. They appear exclusively in the forest on the tiny island towards the northeast corner of the map. You only need one of these nuts.
Step Twenty: Fight some more battles.
Your black chocobo isn’t ready to breed yet. You don’t need any more Sylkis at this point, so just pop the Zolom a few times and keep checking back. Remember to save your game outside of the Chocobo Ranch.
Step Twenty-one: Gold chocobo!
At this point you will either have to buy a fifth pen or release one of your hard-earned colorful chocobos.
Mate black to wonderful with a Zeio Nut, and the result should be a gaudy (but useful) gold chocobo.
Congratulations! Enjoy your Mime and your Knights of Round and your Quadra Magic and what-have-you.
Why write this guide?
There are hundreds of gold chocobo guides on the internet, but I have found most of them to be lacking. Many of them are written under the assumption you are doing the gold chocobo quest during the endgame, when affording Sylkis Greens isn’t a problem. Others are still plagued with misinformation from the late 90s, and would have you catching extra chocobos or feeding them one Sylkis at a time. Almost all of them vastly overestimate the amount of Sylkis you need. The best guide I was able to fine suggested thirty Sylkis for each bird, and didn’t even mention the stamina trick. (Although if you aren’t regenerating stamina, yeah, you probably do need that many.)
By the time my research stumbled across a six-minute YouTube video entitled “How to get a gold chocobo, part one of four” I realized there was a hole in the internet that needed filling.
I always name my chocobos after characters from other FF games. The ones in my pen right now are Rydia, Sazh, Penelo and Koko. This isn’t strictly necessary as part of the breeding process, but it’s still the right thing to do.