Cruis'n Exotica for Game Boy Color is an adaptation of the arcade/console racing game of the same name. It reuses several of the original's modes and gameplay mechanics and adds one original mode, but has a smaller selection of cars, and a graphics engine adapted to the handheld platform.
The game includes 12 cars (down from 22 in the console version) and 12 tracks. Only five cars are available from the start, the rest are unlocked by accumulating mileage. The tracks follow the same themes as those in the console version: from exotic locales (Korea, Ireland, Tibet) and cities (Hong Kong, Las Vegas) to far-out fantasy worlds (Atlantis, a prehistoric jungle, Mars). They have however been redesigned to fit the 2D engine, which uses an OutRun-style perspective view of the track, so there are none of the extravagant jumps and drops of the original. The engine offers three different viewing heights to choose from.
The three game modes are Exotica, Freestyle and Circuit. Exotica is the main game mode, consisting of consecutive races on all of the game's tracks. Winning a race is necessary to advance to the next track. In Freestyle mode, all tracks can be accessed for a trial run from the start. Circuit mode is exclusive to the GBC version: it moves through various multi-track rounds, in which final placements determine a point score. Reaching a certain score threshold is necessary to advance to the next round.
The game uses the same trick system as the console version: double-tapping the gas launches the car into a wheelie for a short speed burst. When hitting another car, moves like flips, spins and rolls can be launched through button combos, accelerating the car further.