GTA Chinatown Wars pushing the Nintendo DS demographic?

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While it was not surprising that there would be another GTA game, there was some scepticism when it was announced at E3 that GTA Chinatown Wars would be appearing on the Nintendo DS handheld and how it would work. For many people Nintendo is seen to provide family friendly videogames with a stern iron fist ruling any content that is rated mature.

Times have changed. People who grew up with Nintendo are now much older. Videogame experiences have advanced as have the complexity of games and the themes within them. While the Nintendo Wii provided a shift in thought of how videogames should be played amongst others another vital thing has changed from the hierarchy – That mature games are now allowed on Nintendo consoles.

I know for some time that Nintendo have been pressing hard to build the burnt bridges damaged back in the Nintendo 64 era to 3rd Parties and it seems the effort has paid off. EA are on board and now Rockstar is providing what the gamers want. Grand Theft Auto.

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Why is this significant? GTA has always been controversial and carries an M rating on almost every platform it has been released on (bar the 2D Gameboy version). It is clearly aimed at the older demographic while the Nintendo DS has been catered for the younger audience. This is a huge coup though for Nintendo to have the franchise on board because it broadens the age range even more. It sends a signal of intent that Nintendo are ready to play ball. Since the screenshots have been released though it has mixed reactions.

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It will be a 2.5D Isometric videogame with a 3D engine, designed to run smoothly at all times whilst providing stylised cel-shaded graphics. The above are magazine scans from Nintendo Power however I believe it looks pretty impressive for the Nintendo DS. Most of the criticism stems from the fact that some gamers don’t want to play a GTA title anymore if it doesn’t look or behave like GTA IV, which is impossible for a handheld like the Nintendo DS with its limited 3D capabilities. Instead Rockstar is looking to merge the best of both worlds from GTA2 with its top down gameplay and 3D roaming elements from the modern, next generation itterations.

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It is understood that controls will be handled in a similar fashion to Smash TV where the stylus control character movement on foot and the D-Pad for aiming. I hope though that the controls also take account of us left handers too! To control vehicles, Rockstar has added more interactive elements that take advantage of the Nintendo DS’s touch screen qualities. For example, to hi-jack a car, you have to wedge a screwdriver into the keyhole and twist it.

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Other control mechanisms I’m sure will be used taking advantage of the unique abilities of the hand held and it has been noted that the game might also include light driver correction aids to make it easier to navigate around the city. I’m not 100% certain how true this is, however I’m sure the controls will be tight enough to reflect the vehicles real life characteristics.

Earlier I touched upon that the game will be M rated and Rockstar sure will be taking advantage of this, by offering ‘adult themed’ mini games to supplement the violence and action already in the core gameplay. Nintendo were keen to stress to Rockstar that they wanted a true GTA experience on a Nintendo machine and they were keen to oblige.

“They didn’t want us to make a GTA for kids, and we weren’t interested in making a game we wouldn’t normally make”

To kickstart things in the media, Rockstar announced that one of the mini games will allow you to be a drug dealer – Buying and selling a total of 6 real world narcotics to raise funds for your deeds. This alone is enough to cause a frenzy amongst parents and the media, saying it would be educating the youth about such substances and could possibly encourage them to be dealers themselves. This debate though is a whole new article in itself!

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I hope that this game though once stripped of all the hype is worth playing and Rockstar have high hopes. They are aiming to design the missions to still have the classic sandbox gameplay we all know and love, but much shorter, more action packed and with more replayability which makes it a perfect pick up and play title. No word as of yet about online features however I’m sure more information will be released in due time.

Rockstar sure are pushing the boat more than any other developer with Nintendo. Even though Capcom has announced Dead Rising: Chop till you Drop it doesn’t have the same impact that GTA carries. I hope though that the game will be a success because it will help illustrate to other developers that regardless of the content, you can actually push the Nintendo DS to deliver what looks like a statisfying 3D game. Time will tell though if this is enough to convice gamers that Nintendo is only for kids.

  • Eugene

    Nice article. Thanks. 🙂 Eugene