V-Rally 3 for the Game Boy Advance adapts the console game of the same name to the handheld platform, offering its own selection of cars, tracks, modes and a platform-appropriate graphics engine.
The main game mode is V-Rally Mode. It takes players through a rally championship over seven different countries, with each country's course consisting of distinct stages. Stages are taken on in groups of two, allowing for changing of car setup and repairs after every pair. Car setup options include a choice of tires (appropriate to road and weather conditions) as well as suspension, steering, brakes and gearbox. Bumping into the roadside during a race damages the car, with body, suspension, brakes, steering and turbos getting individual damage ratings. The repairs must be possible to be carried out within a time window or there is no choice but to drive on with the damage.
The game contains 10 licensed cars from 9 manufacturers, of which only two are available from the start. Winning a rally championship unlocks further cars. Driving the more powerful unlocked cars increases the game's difficulty, requiring much better times to keep ahead of the competition.
The game's second major mode is called V-Rally Cross and offers traditional circuit racing on five different tracks. Only one is available from the start, the others have to be unlocked by winning on the earlier tracks. Races are against three opponents and consist of two rounds of three laps each, one in forward, one in reverse direction. Performing well in the first round fills a boost meter that can be utilized in the second.
Time Trial mode allows single runs utilizing cars and tracks unlocked in the other modes. Multiplayer is available via the link cable and offers two-player versions of V-Rally Cross and Time Trial.
The game's graphics engine renders the tracks in texture-mapped 3D, with backgrounds, scenery (like trees and spectators) and the cars themselves displayed as 2D bitmaps. Graphical effects include rain, snow, fog and nighttime conditions. By default, the camera is behind the car, but there is also a first-person cockpit perspective (not available in V-Rally Cross) that shows the driver's hands steering and shifting and also displays damage to the car as cracks in the windshield.