Way back in the early days of my YouTube channel, I made a short lived series called Nintendo Night, where I would talk about some of my favourite games for the various Nintendo platforms. Back then I was making my videos by shooting the screen with an iPhone 3GS, and basically making it up as I went along. These videos are rather embarrassing to watch nowadays, so I have decided to remake some of them, starting with the one I did about a rather overlooked GBA title called Racing Gears Advance. I don't have a huge collection of GBA cartridges - around two dozen or so - but I am going to cover more games for the system later on so I have started this new series called Advance Warning. With the help of my Retron 5, I will be able to bring you some nice clear footage of the games I'm covering. So let's get on with taking another look at Racing Gears Advance!
The graphics are nice and bright, and compared to most games on the GBA, they are very nicely detailed indeed. Little things like the way the trees move in the breeze and the way your cars suspension reacts when going over cobblestones or a wooden bridge are great little touches that help to set Racing Gears Advance apart from the average crapware that was sadly so common on the system. The tracks are pretty diverse in their nature, and consist of scenic rural areas like vineyards, treacherous snowy mountain tracks, shipyards, and even an active volcano! Backing up the graphics is some very strong audio as well - particularly the music. Again, music of this quality is fairly rare on the GBA, and the actual tunes remind me of SID music from the C64. It is most definitely of a retro chiptune style, and even features some voice samples in tunes such as the catchy People Mover. Sound effects are decent enough as well, but are a bit overshadowed by the music. There's a variety of skidding effects, explosions and the like, which all add to the overall quality of the game.
You can also take damage as well, which can get pretty expensive to fix. Finally, there are many different weapons to buy in the game. At first you just get access to nitrous and basic missiles, but with each new cup that's unlocked you will be allowed to buy more and more types of weapon. Later types include mines that do a significant amount of damage to anyone unlucky to drive over them, and heat seeking missiles. In addition to weaponry, each character has their own innate special ability as well. One of them can steal cash by bumping into other cars, another one can mess up your steering temporarily, which can be infuriating. That brings to my one major problem with the game. By the time you get to around the third championship, the majority of the weapons will have been unlocked, and the computer AI starts acting like a complete bastard. Within the first few seconds of a race it's quite likely that you will have been shot, spun out, run into level mines, and bashed into for good measure. A decent race can easily be ruined by the overaggressive opponents, and it can become infuriating. You can go back to previous championships, grind for money and gradually level your cars so that you can then easily win the current championship, so at least you won't get stuck, but this does make the game feel like a bit of a grind at times.