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This 2D Game Boy Advance design, at the very least, vastly improves on the originals, and fixes the game so much that it's now a great, recommended action title. It was definitely worth the long wait.
— Craig Harris, IGN.

The legendary, rule-breaking and genre-defying Grand Theft Auto franchise has arrived on the Game Boy Advance.
Return to the streets of Liberty City in a brand-new story, all new missions, and classic open-ended Grand Theft Auto gameplay.
— Official Description

Grand Theft Auto Advance (also referred to as GTA Advance and marketed simply as Grand Theft Auto) is a video game created and developed by Digital Eclipse under supervision of Rockstar Studios[1][2], and published by Rockstar Games, released on 26 October 2004[3] for the Game Boy Advance.

The game is played from a top-down perspective, similar to the series' 2D Universe games (Grand Theft Auto and Grand Theft Auto 2). However, GTA Advance also borrows several aspects from the more recent 3D Universe games (Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City), including vehicle-based side missions (such as vigilante), the heads up display and the inclusion of new weapons.

Originally meant to be a Game Boy Advance port of Grand Theft Auto III during its development, GTA Advance is set in the 3D Universe timeline of the series, and serves as a prequel to the events of Grand Theft Auto III, taking place one year prior.

Setting[]

Logo-GTAAdvance

GTA Advance's logo, seen in the main menu.

The game is set in 2000, one year before the events of GTA III, and it is set in Liberty City, the GTA city that appeared, most prominently, in Grand Theft Auto III. Indeed the earliest announcement of this game was that it would be a port of GTA III, but at some point in development (it is unclear exactly when this occurred) this idea was rejected, most likely due to technical limitations and the time needed to reconstruct the previous game's missions in the new two-dimensional environment.

LibertyCity-GTAA-HUDMap

Liberty City in Grand Theft Auto Advance.

The game that was actually released is a prequel to GTA III, taking place one year prior to the events in GTA III. As it takes place in GTA III's Liberty City, familiar landmarks re-appear and the overall street layout is the same. However the locations of familiar secrets such as rampages and hidden packages and jump ramps have all been changed, so players familiar with the city's corners and alleyways in GTA III will have to explore them afresh in GTA Advance. The city's three islands have been noticeably changed in its conversion and elements impossible to interpret to a top-view perspective, so there are no longer any sloped surfaces, and the tunnels and train system have been removed. The city in GTA Advance is bigger than in GTA III, especially Portland (see image on the left).

The game's protagonist is called Mike, with some of the GTA III characters re-appearing in the game, including bomb-shop owner 8-Ball and the Yakuza co-leader Asuka Kasen. However, none of the Mafia characters from GTA III appear, and entirely new characters such as Vinnie (Mike's friend and first employer), Cisco (the leader of the Colombian Cartel), Jonnie (a bar tender) and Yuka (Asuka's niece) have been added. Several characters which were only referenced in GTA III are now met face-to-face, such as King Courtney, the Uptown Yardies boss. It is also the only game in the 3D Universe that allows the player to change the plot by making choices, though they will all lead to the same ending.

Storyline[]

Mike-GTAA

Mike, the protagonist of Grand Theft Auto Advance

Mike is a small-time criminal, working for the more connected Vinnie. They decide to leave Liberty City together and try their luck elsewhere, but Vinnie convinces Mike to do some tasks for their sometimes-employers, the Mafia at Momma's Restaurante in Saint Mark's, prior to leaving. During one of these missions, Vinnie is apparently killed in a car bomb, taking his and Mike's money with him. For this, Mike swears revenge. Mike then works for 8-Ball, an associate of Vinnie's, who offers to help with Mike's quest. Mike does various jobs for him before 8-Ball suggests that he works for a bartender named Jonnie, who is also connected to the criminal underworld. Mike does some work for Jonnie including looking after his drunk girlfriend while Jonnie helps looking into Vinnie's death. Mike is slightly annoyed by Jonnie's paranoia but it later proves true when Mike finds Jonnie has been killed while Mike was on a loan shark job. Mike notices the assailants leaving the bar are members of the Uptown Yardies. Mike pursues the Yardies to Staunton Island.

Eventually Mike confronts Yardie leader, King Courtney. Courtney denies that he was responsible saying he is also looking for the killer because Jonnie owed the Yardies money. While Mike does some jobs for the Yardies, it becomes apparent that they are using him, this is confirmed when Courtney sends Mike to go after Cisco, leader of the Colombian Cartel and rival of the Yardies. Mike, believing that Cisco is the culprit, faces off against the gang leader at a restaurant. Cisco finally warns Mike of Courtney's treachery. Mike then works for Cisco and the Cartel, and also finds himself helping the Yakuza, when Asuka Kasen sends Mike to rescue her niece Yuka (who, ironically, was kidnapped by Mike while working for Cisco). Mike finds himself working for the two leaders of gangs feuding with each other, but does the work regardless as both Cisco and Asuka agree to look into Vinnie's death. Mike then unexpectedly finds Cisco dead, Mike speculates that the culprit is Vinnie's and Jonnie's killer. Mike begins to pursue the assailants car, not before being temporarily beset by men hired to protect the killer. Mike eventually crashes the escaping car and the criminal behind this is revealed to be Vinnie, who faked his death and was conspiring against Mike the whole time. Vinnie and his bodyguards engage in a shootout with Mike before Vinnie is wounded. Vinnie begs for his life, but Mike refuses to listen. Before Mike kills him, Vinnie warns Mike that in the event of his death, any criminal greedy enough will definitely go after him, but Mike doesn't take heed to this and finishes him off.

Later Mike meets 8-Ball (who failed to warn Mike about Vinnie). The two are suddenly attacked by the Colombians who blame Mike for Cisco's death. After a lengthy fight, police suddenly attack, and 8-Ball is arrested (setting the stage for his escape in the Grand Theft Auto III intro), but Mike manages to escape. Mike tries to get even with Cisco's successor who tells him that King Courtney has called a hit out on Mike for his money (as the late Vinnie warned). Mike later goes across the city massacring the Yardies' hitmen. Mike meets Asuka who offers to help him kill King Courtney. Mike and several Yakuza members meet at the Yardies hideout. The Yakuza flee forcing Mike to face King Courtney and his men alone. A climactic fight ensues resulting in Mike nearly killing Courtney who surrenders and begs for his life. Suddenly, the LCPD raid the area, but Mike manages to elude them after a climatic chase. Mike then boards Cisco's plane and flees Liberty City with joy, his journey across the city complete.

Characters[]

  • Mike: the main protagonist of Advance. A former homeless taken under the wing of his mentor and partner Vinnie, Mike intends to leave Liberty City with him. After the supposed demise of Vinnie, the majority of Mike's journey sees him searching vengeance while also working to leave the city for good.
  • Vinnie and King Courtney: the two main antagonists of Advance. Vinnie is Mike's partner in crime and first employer, whose supposed death sets the game's events in motion. Courtney is the leader of the Yardies, who employs Mike out of desire to locate money owed to him. While initially friendly or at least reasonable, they are slowly revealed to be Mike's greatest threats, motivated by greed, selfishness and power.
  • 8-Ball and Jonnie: two old associates of Vinnie who become friends and new employers for Mike. Both 8-Ball and Jonnie attempt to help Mike to find the culprits behind Vinnie's death, as the latter also owed money to Jonnie.
  • Cisco and Asuka Kasen: leaders of rival gangs in Liberty City, and Mike's final two employers. They both end up seeking Mike's services to help them out against opposing gangs and individuals, including against each other. In return, they help him looking more into Vinnie's murder, in spite of Mike's disdain towards their personal quirks.
  • Yuka Kasen, Misty and the Colombian Cartel lieutenant: other supporting characters Mike encounters in his journey.

Soundtrack[]

Each time a player gets in a car, it will play a looped, instrumental version of a single song. Songs serve as the "radios" in this game, and (with the exception of Slumpussy's "This Life", from GTA) they are from GTA 2. The following songs are featured:

  • Slumpussy - "This Life" (GTA Advance's title theme)
  • E=MC Good Times - "Jacking In Hilltown" (GTA Advance's pause theme)
  • Reed - "L.E.D."
  • Apostles of Funk - "Yellow Butter"
  • Toys Are Real - "Flymutha"
  • The One - "Southpark"
  • Numb - "How It's Done"
  • Voice Box - "Computer Lust"

Development[]

GTA Advanced

Gameplay of GTA Advance.

Grand Theft Auto Advance was developed by Digital Eclipse, in collaboration with Rockstar North. The game originally began development under Crawfish Interactive; however, this studio went defunct in November 2002, ending the possibility of a 2003 release. It was at this point that Susan Cummings, an employee at Rockstar, was tasked with finding another studio to work on the project. Through her prior relationships with Mike Mika and Andrew Ayre at Digital Eclipse, she was able to hand them the deal.[4]

Where the story is concerned, Mika says Digital Eclipse initially pitched several ideas, "but ultimately, Rockstar was like, 'Nope, this is how the story's gonna be' and it was better than anything we were coming up with. But we ended up contributing to a lot of that." Digital Eclipse's James Stanley, who was also a producer, accepted responsibility for fleshing out the game's story from the initial brief. His job was to create new missions and craft new dialogue.[4]

The game had to be adapted to the Game Boy Advance's hardware limitations. As a result it does not have voice acting or animated cutscenes, nor does it have much-lauded pedestrian dialog of GTA III. All cutscenes are text-only with line-art pictures of the characters' faces, sometimes with a thematic backdrop behind. The art style is consistent with that used for the cover and loading art of the three-dimensional releases in the series. Replacing the pedestrian dialog, some sound effects taken from GTA III are played when the player hits someone's car, but there is a limited variety, leading to much repetition.

GrandTheftAutoAdvance-PromoPoster

Promotional poster for GTA Advance.

Even though the game is fixed in a 2D environment, the developers managed to throw in a few tricks to give the game a more 3D look and feel. Buildings that rise up into the sky actually move in perspective to the camera using a 3D shifting effect, vehicles will actually lean to the left and right as their weight shifts through a turn and Liberty City isn't just a bunch of cross-streets - there are over and underpasses, with the engine turning the car transparent when players drive it underneath a bridge. Liberty City in the Game Boy Advance version is nearly three times the size of the incarnation in the PlayStation 2 GTA III game.[5] Dan Shallock, lead artist at Digital Eclipse, elaborated: "The buildings were the only kind of fake 3D-engine thing that we did. With those, we would just render a side view square, and then Cathryn kind of 3D mapped those onto the side of buildings, but everything else was just sprite work, you know, so going back that was just classic Game Boy sprite work."[4]

The game does not feature radio channels. Like the Game Boy Color ports of GTA and GTA 2, each car has one fixed tune that is constantly repeated and cannot be changed. These include parts of some familiar GTA and GTA 2 tunes, in instrumental versions.

These limitations, coupled with the game being released on the same day as its highly anticipated cousin Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, caused the game to be widely criticized by fans. [6]

Reception[]

Grand Theft Auto Advance received mixed to average reception, with critics praising the game for improving on the 2D formula while criticizing the gameplay and graphics.

Game Chronicles awarded the game with 8.8; Loki of Game Chronicles gave his final thoughts on GTA Advance with the following statement: "If you are a sucker for pretty graphics and a rich narrative then you had better stick with the console versions of Grand Theft Auto, but anyone looking for an excellent handheld version of the game will delight in the complexity this title has to offer. And if you have ever played the original versions of GTA, either on Dreamcast or PS1 then you can relive some of those fond memories as well."

IGN awarded the game with 8.5/10; Craig Harris of IGN said that the game "does a good job of looking like the old GTA games." and "vastly improves on the originals, and fixes the game so much that it's now a great, recommended action title."

GameInformer awarded the game with 7.5/10.

GameSpot awarded the game with a less favorable 6.5/10. Jeff Gerstmann commented on his GameSpot review that "bringing the classic GTA gameplay back is a neat idea, but the execution here is weighted down by the lame story, straight-laced dialogue and the technical issues."

1UP.com were the least favorable towards GTA Advance, awarding the game with a D+. They stated in their review that "It attempts to re-create the top-down style of those antiquated games, but ends up feeling like a patchwork of redundant fetch quests tied together by an all-too-tedious story" and ending their review with the following statement: "If anything, GTA Advance reminds us just how far this series has come. The deep gameplay of recent entries makes a poor leap to the portable screen, with flat visuals and highly repetitive sounds."

Metacritic awarded the game with 68/100, making it the lowest rated (excluding The Definitive Edition) games in the series.

Sales[]

Grand Theft Auto Advance reportedly has sold less then 250,000 copies, making it one of the worst selling Grand Theft Auto game in the series.

Screenshots[]

Trailer[]

Grand Theft Auto Advance – Official Trailer

Trivia[]

  • GTA Advance is the only 3D Universe game which has a native top-down view instead of a third-person view, the only game which does not feature Dan Houser's producing, writing or voice acting, and game which does not have a PlayStation 2 port. It is also the first game not developed by Rockstar North.
  • GTA Advance is the first GTA game where the player can save their game anywhere on the map. Though the only way to save the game without quitting is by going to the safehouses, the player can "quicksave" by selecting "Save and Quit" on the pause menu, so that they will return right where they left off when they continue playing. However, doing this will abort any mission the player was on.
  • GTA Advance is the second GTA game to have been launched exclusively on one platform (the first one being Grand Theft Auto: London 1961, for PC), the first to be created primarily for a portable device, one of seven titles in the GTA series so far to be on a Nintendo platform (the others being the Game Boy Color ports of Grand Theft Auto and Grand Theft Auto 2, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars on Nintendo DS, and Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - The Definitive Edition for Nintendo Switch), and the only game so far to be exclusive to a Nintendo system.
  • GTA Advance was the first GTA game to incorporate a speedometer for cars.
  • The theme song of GTA Advance played in the main menu is actually "This Life" by Slumpussy, which was featured on N-CT FM in GTA.
  • Most songs from this game originate from GTA 2.
  • The arcade game Street Crimes: Gang Wars Edition from Grand Theft Auto Online reuses Mike's sprites and animations from Grand Theft Auto Advance.

See Also[]

External Link[]

References[]

  1. Credits in GTA Advance#Rockstar NYC
    Credits in GTA Advance#Rockstar London
    Credits in GTA Advance#Rockstar Lincoln
  2. Similar to what it had done earlier with Crawfish, Rockstar tasked Digital Eclipse with developing a prequel to Grand Theft Auto III. The contents, however, were completely different from that former project, with Grand Theft Auto Advance instead focusing on the new protagonist Mike who is searching for the person who kills his partner-in-crime Vinnie. According to Mika, this idea came directly from Rockstar's senior staff.
  3. Official GTA Advance website
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Time Extension - THE MAKING OF Grand Theft Auto Advance, The GTA III Prequel You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of
  5. IGN - Grand Theft Auto Advance
  6. Reviews

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Grand Theft Auto AdvanceMike | Liberty City | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Soundtrack | Cheats
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The Lost and DamnedJohnny Klebitz | Liberty City | Alderney | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
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Grand Theft Auto VMichael De Santa | Trevor Philips | Franklin Clinton | Southern San Andreas (Los Santos (County) | Blaine County) | State of North Yankton (Ludendorff) | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Weapons | Vehicles | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
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