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|Grand Theft Auto: Advance|
|Release dates||Game Boy Advance|
|Platform||Game Boy Advance|
Grand Theft Auto series
GTA Advance is considered to be less part of the Grand Theft Auto series as the other games. It is the only GTA game not developed by a Rockstar Games studio, it was released on the same day as GTA San Andreas so suffered from a lack of interest, and it is not listed on the Rockstar Games site (although it does have its own page there).
The game is played from a top-down perspective, similar to that in Grand Theft Auto 1 and Grand Theft Auto 2. However, GTA Advance also borrows several aspects from the more recent GTA III Era, including vehicle-based side missions (such as vigilante), the Heads-Up Display and many weapons.
The game is set in Liberty City, the fictional 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, probably due to technical limitations and the time needed to reconstruct the previous game's missions in the new two-dimensional environment.
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. Also there is no access to Francis International Airport runways. The city in GTA Advance is bigger than in GTA III, especially Portland(see image on the left).
The games 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.
Mike is a low-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, prior to leaving. During one of these missions Vinnie is apparently killed in a car bomb, taking Mike and Vinnie's money with him. Mike swears revenge.
His revenge leads to his falling out with the Mafia, and he ends up working for various gangs, mostly the Yardies and the Yakuza. Each gang persuades Mike to do jobs for them as they help him find out the truth about Vince's death.
One of Mike's employers and friends, 8-Ball, finds out that Vinnie has actually staged his own death, and Mike takes revenge on his old partner. During this mission 8-Ball is arrested (setting the stage for his escape in the Grand Theft Auto III intro.), but Mike manages to escape.
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 GTA III's much-lauded pedestrian dialog. 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 soundbites taken from GTA III are played when the player hits someone's car, but there is a limited variety, leading to much repetition.
The game does not feature radio channels. Like the Game Boy Color ports of GTA 1 and GTA 2, each car has one fixed tune that is constantly repeated and cannot be changed. These include parts of some familiar GTA 2 and GTA III 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, and it is largely unpopular. Indeed some fans of the original top-down games say that they preferred the old games' mechanics better.
- GTA Advance is the only GTA III Era game which does not have a PlayStation 2 port, and the only game in the entire series not to have been released for a console from the PlayStation series, except Grand Theft Auto: London 1961.
- GTA Advance is the only GTA game which has been launched exclusively on one platform (with the exception of Grand Theft Auto: London 1961), the first to be created primarily for a portable device, and the only game to solely be on a Nintendo platform.
- The canonicity of GTA Advance is debateable - not only is it the only GTA game to not be primarily developed by a Rockstar studio, it does not feature on Rockstar's official Grand Theft Auto website.