Review: GT Advance 3: Pro Concept Racing (Game Boy Advance)

In this review, we powers slide our way through the Game Boy Advance game GT Advance 3: Pro Concept Racing. We find out how well this racing game plays.

This game was released in 2003 and is the third game in this series.

We have some experience with this series. We first tried GT Advance Championship Racing. That game wound up getting a solid score here. After that, we tried GT Advance 2: Rally Racing. That game wound up with a fairly mediocre score. So, we thought we’d continue on with the series to see if this third entry turns things around.

There’s no real storyline in the game itself, you just race to get as many gold’s as possible. There are a couple of modes to play: Championship, Practice, Time Attack, and Drift-Combo to name a few.

Practice allows you to get used to the track before you take it on for real.

Time attack removes all the opponents from the track and leaves you to race against the clock.

Drift-Combo, however, is a new mode in this game. You might be reminded of a similar drift mode in Need for Speed: Underground even, though the scoring system is a bit different. In drift combo, the goal is to get as many drifts as possible. Slide off the track and the combo is broken. Stop drifting for long enough and you’ll also lose the combo. Rack up as many drift’s as possible within the three laps as possible. Break the record and you’ll unlock another drift track and even unlock a couple of new cars while you are at it.

The main mode in this game, however, is championship. There are four difficulties: Beginner’s, Medium, Highspeed, and Professional. Finish in at least third place in every race within the Beginner’s difficulty to unlock the Medium difficulty. Do the same for each difficulty to unlock the next. Finish within the top 3 in every race in the Professional difficulty and you beat the game.

This is where things change somewhat from the previous game, though. Within each difficulty, you start off with three “license” races. In order to even race in normal races, you need to beat the goal time to pass the test. Beat it with time to spare and you’ll earn gold. Similar to Drift-Combo, if you drift off course, you’ll fail the test. It’s not such a big deal on earlier difficulties, but with full laps in later difficulties, this can be quite challenging.

After the three tests, you have 8 full fledged races to compete in. In all, you have 11 challenges per difficulty with a total of 44 challenges in the entire game. In a number of races, you’ll have a chance to unlock a new car. Additionally, you’ll even have a few chances to unlock new car parts. Each part will enhance your car. Either you get better acceleration, handling, or high speed. Sometimes, you even get a combination of two of the three stats enhanced thanks to that part.

Depending on how well you do, you can unlock up to three extra modes.

In normal racing mode, you’ll have 8 opponents to race against. While the first two are immediately in front of you, the rest of the opponents are staggered throughout the course. First place is typically at least 75% through the first lap when you start. So, the challenge is largely just making up ground on your opponents.

Unlike the previous game, there are no hills. Everything is flat much like the first game in the series. Additionally, there are a few pieces of scenery throughout. What’s much more novel about this game is that some bits of scenery are actually right on the track. So, it is possible to accidentally run into them (typically, this slows you down enough to make the whole race a lost cause). This doesn’t actually occur that often, but it does happen on a handful of races.

Like previous games in the series, you can get a good start if you time your acceleration so that the needle just starts crossing into the red area of your speedometer right when the countdown finishes. Go too far and you spin your tires. Don’t go far enough and you’ll get a slow start. Often, these quick starts is a critical first step to snagging that gold.

It’s also possible to spin out in this game. If you accelerate too much while turning too hard, you’ll basically spin around in circles for a moment. This is also more or less a race killer. To counter that, use your brake. I’ve never spun out while turning and braking at the same time.

One improvement in this game is the fact that there is actually an incentive to unlock some of those cars in the game. In previous games, you basically have the best car in the game unlocked right away. As such, it defeats the purpose of unlocking vehicles throughout the game. In this game, some cars you unlock are actually better than what you get at the start of the game. So, keep an eye on those stats. Keep in mind that the unlocked cars do not have parts installed, so this may make some of the stats a bit misleading at first.

A setback for this game is the fact that there are no hills and there’s generally only one type of racing: street racing. Sometimes, you get rain or darkness, but beyond that, there is almost no condition variation. If you were hoping for a few dirt courses to just drift around for fun, you’re out of luck on this one. At most, you have some loose turns, right turns, u-turns, and even a few hairpin turns. You can take advantage of a few bits of gravel patches as you cut the corners a bit more than you would otherwise expect, but that’s about all the excitement you can get out of racing in this game.

Difficulty is about right. It’s not hard enough to scare new players off right away. At this same time, it does offer enough challenge to give more experienced players an interesting challenge later on.

Unfortunately, this game is also quite short. Three lap races generally take all of 1-3 minutes. I wound up spending all afternoon playing this game from start to finish in spite of the fact that there are 44 challenges. While drift-combo mode adds a few minutes of added challenge, that’s almost all that this game has to offer.

Generally speaking, this game represents a small step back. It falls back onto the flat surfaces where other portable games like Need for Speed: Underground are pushing the boundaries and offering hills. While the slippery surfaces and rain conditions do offer an interesting challenge, I can’t help but think that this game could have offered more. The upgrading parts is a welcome sight and the unlocking car system is an improvement, though. Unfortunately, the games length leaves a lot to be desired.

Graphically speaking, this game offers some minor tweaks. Now, there are headlight and streetlight effects. It still sticks with the pseudo 3D environment. The special effects are reasonable, though nothing exciting. So, a reasonable effort here, but nothing overly exciting.

The audio was never a strong point in this series and this game is no exception. While some of the menu music is quite reasonable, the racing music sticks with the standard last gen chiptune style of music. I would have liked to see a move away from that – especially with this third effort. Unfortunately, I’m left disappointed with this. Even speech samples have been pulled back, leaving only reasonable sound effects.

Overall, this is a game that is more meant for casual play. If you have an hour to kill, this can be a good distraction. Playing it seriously, however, is a different story. It’s so short, you can spend an afternoon playing from beginning to end. The flat landscapes represents a step back for this series. An ability to tune cars is a nice sight to see. Also, the unlockable cars finally feels like it has a purpose. Graphics are fairly average, but the audio does need improvement – especially thanks to its dated music. So, a mediocre game all around.


Furthest point in game: Beat the game: 7 silver, 1 bronze, rest gold.

General gameplay: 17/25
Replay value: 7/10
Graphics: 6/10
Audio: 2/5

Overall rating: 64%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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