The Top Gear series has a lustrous history on the Game Boy Color. Top Gear Pocket was one of the first handheld games to feature a rumble cartridge, while Top Gear Pocket 2 pioneered the use of multiple sprite angles to convey the appearance of three-dimensional car models. Top Gear GT Championship represents the series' first entry on the Game Boy Advance, but sadly, it doesn't bring with it any significant improvements upon or innovations since its 8-bit ancestors.
Top Gear GT Championship puts its best foot forward in terms of features. For solo play, the game's championship and quick race modes offer single-race, free-run, time-trial, qualifying, and series-based championship options. With a few friends and a link cable, things really get interesting, as Top Gear GT not only supports four-player simultaneous racing, but also has its own custom course editor. It's a good thing too, since there are only six different stock courses to choose from. In terms of vehicles, there are 22 Japanese GT-class racing cars at your disposal, each from a different sponsorship team. Selections include the Cusco Subaru Impreza, the Daishin Advance Silvia, the Castrol Supra, and the WedsSport Celica. Only six of these 22 are available from the start, but more unlock as you accumulate class championships.
Unfortunately, once you actually get into a race, things begin to fall apart rather quickly. Similar to the majority of 8-bit Game Boy Color racing games, Top Gear GT Championship uses sprites to paint only small portions of the road in front of you. As such, a constantly centered car and the uncommon appearance of opponent vehicles just add to the impression that you're playing Kemco's 21st-century rendition of Pole Position. Worse still, there are no hills or discernable scenery to speak of--only signposts, turn indicators, and the occasional tree.
Thanks to the limitations imposed by its restrictive graphical presentation, Top Gear GT Championship is less about driving than it is casual braking. Unlike THQ's GT Advance, you can't veer heavily off course, take side routes, or drive in reverse. Sticking to the middle of the road is truly the only strategy you'll ever use. Five adjustable handling categories--gear ratio, steering response, brake type, tire type, and aerodynamics--help vary each car's individual response, but never to the extent that a race ever feels realistic or challenging. The lawnmower-style engine murmurs, and infrequent tire squeals emanating from the GBA speaker don't help matters any.
Top Gear GT Championship is easily playable and excels with respect to both longevity and multiplayer options, but barely suffices in the make-or-break categories of graphics, sound, and gameplay. The majority of prospective buyers would be better off focusing their attention on THQ'S GT Advance Championship Racing, which, despite the lack of a battery-save feature, is far and away a better game.