GP Advance
Image: Zion Grassi / Time Extension

Though it was a console primarily designed to handle sprite-based graphics, the Game Boy Advance inspired a number of projects that tried to pull off 3D visuals. Games like Mobius Entertainment's Max Payne port and the later FIFA titles.

Recently on Twitter, though, the Italian gaming historian (and occasional Time Extension contributor) Damiano Gerli highlighted a slightly more obscure example that we'd never heard of before: GP Advance. This was a Formula 1 game in development at the Italian company Prograph Research around 2003, which was previewed in publications like IGN, but that sadly never received an official release.

According to Gerli, the game was advertised as having "PSX graphics" and was using the company's internal 3D engine called "DR Advance". This allowed the game to have texture-mapped 3D objects, as well as environmental effects like rain, glare, and fog — all running on Nintendo's handheld device.

In a follow-up to the original tweet, Gerli also posted a link to a trailer for the game that originally appeared on YouTube 12 years ago. And amazingly, it even runs surprisingly well. In fact, the description states that it would have allowed for "over 2.296 texture-mapped polygons on screen at 20fps (more than 45.920 polygons per second!)".

It all looks remarkably impressive, so why wasn't it released?

Well, according to multiple sources, it never found a publisher; that's despite one of its developers Massimiliano Calamai stating on his Instagram that EA was particularly impressed with the demo. No ROM of the game has been dumped yet, but Gerli is currently speaking to the dev to try and see if it's possible.

If you want to learn more about Prograph as a studio, Gerli recently did an article for his Patreon supporters on the company's history and some of its other unreleaed games.

What do you think of this project? Is it one that you wish made the cut? Let us know in the comments!