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Are 3D GameBoy Advance / GBA Games ANY GOOD?!

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The Nintendo GBA is mostly known for amazing 2D graphics, similar to the SNES...however a handful of brave developers attempted to bring 3D graphics to the handheld. How successful were they? Let's find out!

 

 

GAMES SHOWN:

Drome Racers
Star X
Stuntman
Asterix & Obelix XXL
FIFA 07 Soccer
Kill.Switch
007 Nightfire
Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed
Medal of Honor Undergroun
Tony Hawk Downhill Jam
SSX 3
Dark Arena
Doom II
Crazy Taxi: Catch a Ride
This isn't all of the 3D games for the GBA. What other games do you think push the hardware?
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Might I ask why you would leave the 2 best most stable/impressive ones created for the english market out of your video? Also some you have listed aren't 3D at all like the FPS games low on your list like Doom II. I suppose if you go with the faux 3D up there with Doom II would be Duke Nukem Advance which handles much like DN3D.

 

Wing Commander Prophecy is a stage by stage copy of the PC game and it flies well, plays great, and has all the 3D models of the old computer version while just lacking all the campy FMV stuff between stages.

 

I'd also argue V-Rally 3 (same engine as Stuntman) would be a better show off as the detailing on that down to the window cracks for damage in the in car view is fantastic, it's spitting out a full 3D track much like the Saturn did years earlier for Sega Rally.

Edited by Tanooki

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Might I ask why you would leave the 2 best most stable/impressive ones created for the english market out of your video? Also some you have listed aren't 3D at all like the FPS games low on your list like Doom II. I suppose if you go with the faux 3D up there with Doom II would be Duke Nukem Advance which handles much like DN3D.

 

 

I was kinda concerned that this video would turn into a FPS only thing with so many of them being 3D...or like you said faux 3D...so I purposely mixed things up a bit...but you're right, I probably could have made it a bit longer. Also... I have Wing Commander in my collection but admittedly I haven't played it yet. I need to get on it!!

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I was kinda concerned that this video would turn into a FPS only thing with so many of them being 3D...or like you said faux 3D...so I purposely mixed things up a bit...but you're right, I probably could have made it a bit longer. Also... I have Wing Commander in my collection but admittedly I haven't played it yet. I need to get on it!!

Coming in the past from a background like yours I get the point entirely on balance within doing a review and editorial piece much like this one is yet in video. There were a lot of solid DOOM style faux 3D games on the system like the others I said, even the 2 Ecks vs Sever games which ran on a higher quality level. That's why I went with pointing out WCP and V-Rally as they're true real stand out highpoints. Smashing Drive on GBA uses the same engine as WCP but it doesn't handle as well, probably easily enough to blame it on the developer as the engine is capable. I almost threw out Asterix but saw you put that there, that's the high water mark GBA side for that V3D engine which started on V-Rally and Stuntman.

 

I kid you not Wing Commander, if you went and tossed up a PC guide of the game (FAQ) as a crutch to help out passing stages, it's all legit. The game outside of turning FMV into pop up text boxes with faces is almost entirely intact. Not all the pilot and enemy barb banter is there but quite a lot has survived which impressed me. They didn't cut corners, even the opening sequence is a full 3D room with a tome up on a pillar with a rolling text bit to get things going. Extra sequences you could cut like the 3D landing and hangar (with talking) takeoff are still intact. The small details like shield sizzle from blaster hits or the blast rings from blown ships all made it over. If it's a problem with challenge there's a pair of codes for no damage and another to unlock all stages just to try them out which is nice.

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I kid you not Wing Commander, if you went and tossed up a PC guide of the game (FAQ) as a crutch to help out passing stages, it's all legit. The game outside of turning FMV into pop up text boxes with faces is almost entirely intact. Not all the pilot and enemy barb banter is there but quite a lot has survived which impressed me. They didn't cut corners, even the opening sequence is a full 3D room with a tome up on a pillar with a rolling text bit to get things going. Extra sequences you could cut like the 3D landing and hangar (with talking) takeoff are still intact. The small details like shield sizzle from blaster hits or the blast rings from blown ships all made it over. If it's a problem with challenge there's a pair of codes for no damage and another to unlock all stages just to try them out which is nice.

 

 

I'm glad you mentioned this...as I wanna do a video on the Wing Commander series. I currently have everything (I think) except the elusive Film Can edition of Wing Commander 3 with the T-shirt.

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I'll also second v-rally 3. It's a damn good game.

 

I (eventually) grew to very much enjoy 'Big Mutha Truckers' on GBA. Like the other 3d games, it tends toward being quite choppy. That puts most users off from the start, but I forgave it, and that's not actually BMT's real problem. It's problem is that it took a surprisingly entertaining elite-like concept and skinned it with the world's worst redneck theme. You buy low/sell high, choose/manage your routes, upgrade your vehicle for better missions, get into combat/races...all with that theme assaulting your eyes, and perhaps worse, your ears. Yeehaw. Name me one elite fan that thinks their genre needs more missing teeth and incest references (not kidding).

 

The thing was, the GBA Big Mutha Truckers was developed by the wing commander prophecy bunch--combine this game with that one, and with little imagination, they could have had one of the best games on the system.

 

But instead--well, just try and make it through the ad.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OESBOX-rsw

Edited by Reaperman

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WC video with the series I could get into watching that. WC was one of my very first PC games back in the very early 90s. It was also one of the first games I bought and didn't just 'borrow' from a friend or a local dial in BBS. :) That, Simpsons Arcade and Wolfenstein 3D the free episode were my first toys that didn't come with this massive CD loaded with games back on Christmas of 1990. I got one of those insane Headstart PCs with like the original CD (like 1/2 a single speed) with caddies for the discs from a rich 'educational type' grandparent. I didn't bother looking for stuff for awhile as it had like 40+ games on there, good stuff from the late 80s -- Skyfox2, Inflltrator 1 and 2, Into the Eagle's Nest, Road Runner, Captain Blood, and various others. Wing Commander really broke me into finding something that disc didn't offer. An amazing story in a game which was very rare, likeable characters, amazing audio/visuals, stunningly well done control it was an all around package. Even when the Star Wars XW and TIE games popped up I honestly couldn't argue they were better than WC1 and 2 games.

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as someone who dove head first into GBA I never found it impressive past my "I just paid a shit ton of money for this, its got to be impressive"

 

honestly it doesnt even do 16 bit style games all that well

 

for the price and the time gap tween the ps1 and the GBA and how it was all "IM ARM AND 32 BIT AND BLAH BLAH BLAH" it was really a letdown that it couldnt even run a half assed sonic game without dropping frames

Edited by Osgeld

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I found it more than capable of 3d games, both poly types and raycasting typed. Loved doom, Eck's vs sever, duke nukem and arena. Star x was neat, but mostly made me want starfox or two. Crazy taxi was awesome, and monkey ball got a lot of play.

 

I love my GBA and wouldn't trade it for anything, but still feel there was so much Nintendo could do and didn't.

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IIRC, there was a leaked beta version of Banjo Pilot that had a really impressive voxel engine.

 

I think there were some officially released games that used voxels too, but I can't remember which ones off the top of my head. I think one was one of those ATV games or something like that? Something where you race quads?

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Sega Rally uses voxels and I believe that GT Advance 2 Rally Racing did and the GT3 title after it did as well. I know Sega Rally did as they talked about it. Sadly the game is kind of disorienting due to a dumb choice of design as you can clearly see the car never turns on the terrain but instead the terrain spins around the center of the car itself. Not sure that's quite well explained but it has to be seen on a GBA to get it. Other games a car can travel around or off the screen in a crash, you can I guess feel the momentum, but SR just feels like you have a car on a pole and the ground that rolls by is attached to it and just spins around the post while the car is static.

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Despite being super low resolution, I put a lot of time in smugglers run. Atx used a much better voxel engine and I had fun with it.

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Despite being super low resolution, I put a lot of time in smugglers run. Atx used a much better voxel engine and I had fun with it.

 

 

I miss the Smuggler's Run series I guess Rockstar kinda turned certain missions with GTA into Smuggler's Run.. but I might have to check this out!

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GTA now that's an interesting hybrid of sorts on GBA too. Anything in motion on that game (people, transportation, firepower, explosions, etc) were sprites. The buildings and other stationary stuff was all 3D polygonal structures with good detailing on them.

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Yeah, GTA Advance was pretty decent, though the framerate could've been better. I kind of liked not having "tank controls" for walking, and it feels like they took a lot of influence from the game when they designed Chinatown Wars.

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I love the GBA 3D stuff. It's crazy what devs were able to do with the hardware. It makes me wonder if Nintendo ever intended for the system to do such things, as they never really made anything truly 3D for it. It's best to enjoy the games in context.

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