SEGA's willingness to port almost all their most
prized treasures over to the GBA has been something
of a coup for Nintendo, with most of the titles released
receiving praise from both gamers and critics alike.
Rally games are one area where the mighty publisher
has yet to tread though and the genre is already well
supported in the GBA market with quality titles such
as Colin McRae and V-Rally 3.
SEGA Rally is probably best known for its arcade
cabinets, which seem to pop up all over the place. I
think the last time I encountered one was in an airport
departure lounge. Hopefully, with its history, SEGA
should have another quality conversion on their hands,
which will no doubt delight hand-held rally fanatics.
SEGA Rally not only provides the gamer with a wide
and varied range of tracks but also a generous selection
of cars for your off-road pleasure. Choose your vehicle
and you're off on one of the numerous Championship challenges.
These usually consist of around five sections with each
one becoming progressively more difficult due to the
terrain and the width of the road.
The other drivers tend to give you little trouble
and are generally easy to pass as you gain places. That's
not to suggest that the game is a push over though,
as you'll quickly discover that while it's very easy
to come in the top five, gaining that first place is
a bit of a challenge. Before you even attempt to become
the world's best though, you're probably better having
a stab at one of the many Time Trials as they give you
an excellent opportunity to sample the tracks before
you have to race them for real.
Main game aside, the extras are mighty impressive
with a range of unlockables covering a variety of shapes
and forms. There are the usual cars and tracks but followers
of this series will be delighted to learn that the developers
have included a collection of archive artwork illustrating
the game through the years.
Also included is a feature which is becoming increasingly
popular where, like Karnaaj Rally and Iridion II, SEGA
Rally includes an Internet high score table. This works
by giving you a code at the end of each Championship
level and by inputting it on the site, you'll be able
to see just how fast (or slow) your time is compared
to the rest of the world. Most Rally games are much
more fun with a multiplayer feature and, with this in
mind, SEGA have included one although you will require
additional copies of the game in order to sample it.
Finally, everything is saved via a battery backup
but with only a single slot this isn't a game that you're
going to want to lend.
While the various menu systems are easy to navigate,
the cars handling is a little different. The problem
here is the way the visuals of the terrain interact
with your sprite based car and this means you don't
always feel as if you're in complete control of what
you're doing or where you are going. You do get used
to this after some practice, however, and the tracks
are genuinely challenging especially as you reach the
harder Championship levels.
While the screen shots look reasonably impressive,
once the action starts the whole thing starts to fall
apart somewhat and the 3D engine just isn't up to the
task at hand.
One problem is the resolution - the environments
appear very pixilated as they speed by. The cars are
slightly better in their design although these are sprite
based and only really require the minimum amount of
frames to animate.
Presentation wise the whole thing is much better
and the various menu systems are very slick indeed,
allowing the user ease of access to the game's many
features. The highlight for us though was the gallery
section, which features a wonderful collection of artwork
from SEGA Rally in all its versions throughout the years.
It's just a shame that the rest of the game doesn't
measure up to this high standard.
Sound & Music
You'd be forgiven, after viewing the visuals, for
believing that the developers had simply rushed this
project with little attention to detail - until you
get to the audio that is because what you have here
is a wonderful selection of sounds that perfectly complement
the game. The music and engine sounds are good and the
sampled co-driver is not only incredibly clear but also
occasionally essential for completing the various courses.
Before you consider purchasing SEGA Rally you really
need to ask yourself what you want from a game of this
nature. If it's all about the way it looks then this
really isn't the prettiest of games out there and the
rally genre has had been graced with considerably better
If, on the other hand, you're more led by features
and handling, then SEGA Rally could be the title you've
been searching for. A generous amount of track, options
and unlockables will keep you occupied for some time
and that's before you indulge in the multiplayer or
Internet ranking competition.
If you're collecting Rally games on the GBA then
this should definitely be in your collection but if
you only need one then V-Rally 3 is still the outright
winner when it comes to experiencing this adrenalin-fueled
sport in handheld form.