With every racing title, GBA racing games get progressively more
sophisticated. Not satisfied with merely emulating the Mode 7 wonders
of the SNES, GT Advance 2 tackles the rally racing genre that absolutely
demands obstacles, pitfalls and treacherous road conditions. For those
who are in the dark about it, it's the one where you see on television a
co-driver yelling directions to help you navigate the courses. That
effectively sums up my knowledge about rally racing, other than it is a
popular venue aside from the usual NASCAR, Cart and Formula One venues.
GT Advance 2 plays out in a behind the car mode, rather than behind the
wheel, that is customary for console racers. Also like console racing
titles, its emphasis is on unlocking cars, gaining parts to enhance the
performance of your cars, effectively making new vehicles and going
through tracks that are set on a wide variety of landscapes.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about GT Advance 2 is the double
irony it exudes. Put into numerical figures, it has 11 racers to
compete with, 15 cars augmented by a number of enhancement parts, 42
tracks separated into 14 stages and 7 modes of play. That's a lot of
numbers for any game, much less a handheld game with constricted space
and room. Unfortunately, it is at once, a lot of material and on the
other hand, not a lot of material. Each race is separated into stages
so you can arguably come in last place in the first track of the stage
and still win the overall race by doing better later on. This formula
repeats itself over and over until you get to the championship modes,
whereby you're given a chance to unlock those secrets I mentioned
before, presumably, to give you even more variety.
The racing isn't of a bad quality either. Despite the addition of the
co-driver, GT Advance 2 keeps the tracks narrow (but not too narrow) so
you won't be at a loss as to where the road is leading. The co-driver
comments are helpful but they aren't a prerequisite as it seems to be
in real life rally. While the earlier stages are simple to complete,
probably for tutorial purposes, the championship modes demand an
intimate knowledge of the turns. Even so, by the time you get there,
there's nothing the game can throw at you that you won't be able to
handle. Racing successfully entails a good use of braking and sliding
around tight corners, while using the speed of the car on the short
straightaway segments. GT Advance 2's control and design is clearly
polished, drawing much from the experiences of its predecessor. All
said and done, it's actually not a bad way to drive a car and along the
way, you'll get to see lots of interesting sights, with attractive
landscapes and colors put into each stage.
The tinny music is overshadowed by the constant whir of sound effects.
The digital samples included are clear and by use of audio alone, you
can gauge how hard you are driving your engine. That's alright because
the music is of the 'game quality', not too interesting to listen to and
it doesn't really add much to the tempo of the race itself.
At its core, GT Advance 2 is a very accessible racing title that is easy
to play from the start so fun is also a word that comes along for the
ride. But in spite of the variety, I came away with the feeling that
there was too much and then at the same time, too little of a game.
That's when the word fun begins to disappear. To plow through all 42
tracks will take hours but the tracks, separated into compact segments
on their own, aren't memorable enough on their own. Even complete
stages of multiple tracks are holistically uninteresting too. So the
only impetus for you to go through the game is to unlock cars and parts.
To Gran Turismo fans, that's a godsend. For me, it was simply too much
of too little.