Platform: GameBoy Advance

Genre: Racing

Publisher: Kemco / Nintendo

Developer: Tantalus

ESRB: E (Everyone)

Released: October 2003

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Top Gear Rally

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

Pros:

- Solid handheld racer

- Good number of tracks and options

- Two-player mode

- Surprising graphics

 

 

Cons:

- Crazy difficult on later levels

- In two-player mode, each player has to have a copy of the game

 

 

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"Racing fans will completely dig Top Gear Rally..."

 

You’ve got to hand it to developer Tantalus – they crammed a lot of racing into a tiny package.  And because the racing genre isn’t exactly crowded on the GameBoy Advance it’s a very welcome package.

 

top gear rally gba review          top gear rally gba review

 

Like most rally games on the consoles, Top Gear Rally (TGR) features a variety of racing modes and cars, some garage options, and different environments to race through.  TGR hits a high note with its two-player mode (via link cable) – even with the ramping difficulty of the AI controlled racers to offer plenty of challenge.  It could have been made a little better if it was four players and you didn’t need a game cartridge for each player.  Other than that, TGR fires on all cylinders.

 

The biggest concern I had going into TGR was the control.  No one has come up with a driving wheel peripheral for the GBA – yet – so you have to deal with the small buttons and directional pad and, unbelievably, it works.  Even using manual transmission via the shoulder buttons, it doesn’t take long to get a handle on the control – sliding through corners, etc. – but if that proves a problem TGR offers you plenty of chances to practice.

 

 

Besides the three-tiered Championship mode, where you’ll spend most of your time, TGR features Time Attack (race for the best time), Practice (which really is practice), and Quick Race (the traditional arcade checkpoint system).  As you unlock tracks (and cars) through progression in the Championship mode, they become available in the other modes.  And you’ll want to spend time practicing most tracks to learn the ins and outs of the various environments, including desert, alpine, coastal and wilderness.  This is where your skill in the garage might make or break you.  Though the options are limited in comparison to its console brethren, you still have the chance to alter steering speed, gear ratio, tire type, braking and exhaust.  Racing with regular road tires on mud will actually affect your performance, so you have to known your stuff (even if it is the most basic stuff).

 

top gear rally gba review           top gear rally gba review

 

Just like in real life, your car comes with a navigator.  And although the sound might be a little on the scratchy side, he provides direction using his voice!  He can be silenced in the options menu but then you’d have to rely strictly on the directional arrows at the top of the screen that border on distracting.

 

The graphics are very good – it has the classic Outrun vibe, but manages to avoid too many instances of noticeable draw-in.  The animation is top-notch, particularly when you oversteer and roll your car.  I’ve never seen a rally race route through a city, but TGR makes it look good.

 

Racing fans will completely dig Top Gear Rally and even casual racers will appreciate having another racing title to play.  It’s packed with good stuff and its execution is practically without fault.

 

- Omni

(November 9, 2003)

 

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