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Why is GTA 1 for the GameBoy Color so glitchy?


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I've recently played GTA 1 on a GameBoy emulator and have started to notice some very funny and unusual things about the GameBoy port. I would like to hear if you also seen any fair of bugs and glitches while playing the game.

So I was playing the game and starting seeing the bottom of the screen acting up. There were arrows and other symbols at the bottom where there would be your "get out of jail" key and points box. After beating a mission, it didn't show up again. While I'm glad It won't show up again (for a while), I wonder what causes it to be like that? Is it my emulator? Or the copy of the ROM?

The bugs didn't quite stop there, the game also has broken missions. I did the 3rd phone mission in "Gangsta Bang". Those who have played GTA 1 and done this mission might know this one, if you don't, I won't spoil it. I'll black it out if you wanna try it yourself, otherwise you can skip this section.


Bubby asks you to take a propane tank rigged with a bomb to the police station and blow it up from there, because some crooked cop wanted a higher raise from bubby. I'm guessing because the cop covers for bubby's gang. After blowing up the police station, you must meet with Tommy, one of bubby's henchmen, so he can give you a cut of the money for blowing up the police station. But Tommy notices Sonetti's lawyer and asks you to follow him, and if he meets with Sonetti's gang, kill him. Afterwards you must proceed to slaughter Sonetti's gang and the lawyer. This mission is replicated in GTA 1 for the GameBoy, but the problem is not only a bug, but a chance of luck. 6 members are suppose to appear in the alleyway, but that might not be the case sometimes. You might be missing 1 or 2 enemy NPC's, and this can break the mission if game isn't registering those missing enemy NPC's. Cause afterwards, you are phoned by Tommy (I'm guessing), who congratulates you for your brutality. But this message never appeared for me, no matter how many times I reloaded the game or loaded my save state. Can anyone explain this? Otherwise, I think 100% GTA 1 on the GameBoy is almost impossible.

On to my next question, does the shield even do anything? I'm glad this version of GTA 1 has them spread around like candy, but the shield never seems to work for me. You have it equipped on your character, yet when you are shot it's almost like you never had it on. Again, is it just my emulator or the ROM?

I do wanna appreciate and love GTA 1 on the GameBoy, not only because of how impressive it is, but also because I can see the good in bad games and say "it has terrible qualities, but it has a few redeeming features." Not to mention, GTA on the go? Sign me up! Unfortunately the game seems to awkward controls and a few bugs, which holds it back from just being a "passible" game. I can stand the controls and the terrible music, but not the other issues.

Before I wrap up this topic, the point of me starting this forum, wasn't to ask, "hey guys, I'm playing an inferior version of a game what do I do?" And someone responds by telling me to play "the actual thing". I'm playing this version of the game on my own free will and wish to experience it. I have played the original PC version and the PS1 version, either which being better than the GameBoy version. But as I stated above, I like finding the good in games, even bad ones. Like for example, one thing I love about this version, are the motorcycles. Unlike all GTA versions where going full speed and crashing into anything would fling you off the motorcycles. On the GameBoy version of GTA 1, even if you go full speed, you won't fall off the motorcycle. I know this has to do with limitations, but it works in the game's favor. Since the camera is zoomed in and you can't see what's coming up ahead, combine with frequent crashes and falling off, why use a motorcycle? This game gave me a reason to use one. Admittedly in rare cases, but the option is still there. Plus it even plays it's own music, limitations maybe.

Anyways, thanks for any future feedback. love to hear your responses.

Edit: This topic now has 1K views. Pretty small compared to others, but I'm proud of this 1st post I made. It's something worth celebrating, to me anyways. I don't ususally like making edits like these though, it feels like a small kind of flex. But for a first post, I'll let it slide.

Edited by ThermalMoon
I messed up a bit.
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Gameboy is old, that's why its glitchy, because your Gameboy is old and broken

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Lol, I been playing it on emulator, but I would like to have it in my collection.

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Hi! Please post all the glitches and workarounds during your playthrough. 
Because I want to play this version too (later) and any information will be very useful. 

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Man With No Name

What emulator are you using? What's the name of the ROM in full (to tell which dump it is)? Could be emulation issues, or just simply the GBC port is bad (I've no idea personally, never played that version, but it does have a rep).

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On 1/29/2021 at 5:49 AM, Man With No Name said:

What emulator are you using? What's the name of the ROM in full (to tell which dump it is)? Could be emulation issues, or just simply the GBC port is bad (I've no idea personally, never played that version, but it does have a rep).

The emulator I use is called "bgb". The copy of GTA 1 is called "Grand Theft Auto (USA).gbc". I don't think I'm allowed to link either of the two, due to legal reasons on this forum. So apologies MWNN. If it's cool with you, I could send you both links via PM. Otherwise, both are clean copies with no modification.

On 1/29/2021 at 9:48 AM, freedom_is_true said:

Here is some useful notes about the first two chapters. 


Thanks, I appreciate this. I will try to post any glitches and/or changes made from the console and PC version of GTA 1. I can't guarantee an exact date, so be on the lookout for when I make a post here... Or somebody else, if they beat me to the punch.

Alternatively, you could watch a playthrough of the game. It doesn't cover the main points and it will spoil the game for you, but at least you could see the differences in PS1 and PC versions.

Grand Theft Auto - GBC Longplay/Walkthrough #20 [720p] - YouTube

Edited by ThermalMoon
Grammar correction
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I decided to play "Gangsta Bang" to its entirety today, and I've come to a lot of conclusions when playing this version of GTA 1.

  • This version is almost a 1 to 1 to the PlayStation port of GTA 1, minus the controls and hardware.
  • Some missions are buggy, 2 missions in particular. one where certain enemy NPC's are missing and you need to waste time looking for them. Another one was when I completed a side mission and the camera BROKE. I could not see where I was, but the issue fixed itself when I killed myself. The game continued like normal, but that goes to show how bad of a port this is.
  • 100% Completion is impossible, maybe it's plausible in other acts, but I can't guarantee it. I could only do 4 phone missions, before beating a side mission and being sent to the end cutscene in "Gangsta Bang".
  • It's really easy to get stuck on vehicles, but you can also just enter a vehicle and it fixes it. But when your vehicle is stuck, It's almost pointless to save it. And getting your vehicle stuck is really easy to do.
  • It may be possible to beat an act without having to play too many missions. I don't have the necessary points requred, but I still unlocked San Andreas. Again, poor programming.



It might really be fun just to play for the experience, cause otherwise, there isn't any incentive to 100% the game. But hey, I look forward to hearing about others who may want to share their fair share of glitches while playing this port. You really shouldn't own the game unless your completing a collection, just stick to playing it on an emulator. otherwise... I'll see myself out.


(The glitch where the bottom of the screen starts acting funny).

Edited by ThermalMoon
Grammar correction + I stopped using Dropbox
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It's either the ROM or the emulator. I have a physical copy of this game and have played the mission you described. The issues you're having don't happen with a real cartridge.

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Thanks for confirming my theory. So it may just be the Rom for the emulator. In that case, I might buy the actual GB game just to see if any other problems happen.

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  • 5 months later...

Hi! Do you finally complete this version of the game?

Is it possible to achieve 100%? (all the missions, because there are no kill frenzies)

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@freedom_is_true No I have not and I don't think I will for a while. The rom is pretty glitchy and some missions are impossible to complete without explaoiting the game yourself. And even if you do, it's not guaranteed that you will 100% the game either. I played Gangsta Bang, after finishing five missions the game sent me to the cutscene, even though I didn't want to go there. Someone commented that the game may be more stable if played on actual hardware, so I'm not sure if it's true or not. Ultimately, this game isn't on my priorities at the moment, so you will have to find that out for yourself.

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Ok, there are some strange things I've found.


"Car speed up" pickups do nothing.
"Armor" pickups do nothing (you die in one shot anyway).

"Key from jail" pickups only save your weapons (and useless armor) when BOTH wasted or busted (not only busted), but it don't save from decreasing your multiplier.

Moreover, multiplier decrease when you wasted (NOT busted).


So, there are some conclusions.

It is no point to collect any of pickups listed above.
If you are busted, it is ok, cause you multiplier remains intact.

If you are wasted, you lose one multiplier anyway (with or without "key from jail"), so you probably have to collect "multiplier" pickup from box on streets (to increase multiplier back again).


Also, respray shops only reset your wanted level, NOT repair your car. 

Edited by freedom_is_true
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For some reasons, my multiplier not increase after completing missions (after several reboots). 
But it is ok, because we need only 100,000 (not 1,000,000) to finish the level. 
Here is another problem. We’ll have >100,000 after completing 7 missions without any multipliers. Due to some glitch, game drops you to finish (cutscene) after reaching 100,000. So it is unable to complete more than 7 (maybe 8 ) missions in this level. 

Unfortunately, I can’t find a way to lose some points. Respray shops cost only few hundred points. And you only can visit them with wanted level. Bomb shops exist, but do nothing. 

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Ok, I’ve done with Gansta Bang level. 
At first, here is some additional useful things:

1. Multipliers do NOT increase after completing missions. It exists only in boxes, but you don’t need it anyway. 
2. Ton of annoying glitches come after level restart. It is because levels don’t _completely_ restart. When you start another attempt, some things from previous attempt exist on the level. It causes glitches. Thus, when you fail a mission, you should NOT exit the level via pause menu and start another attempt. Instead, you have to reset your whole system (your results will not be saved this way). 

3. After you reach 100,000 during mission, arrow to the finish appears. If you ignore this arrow and start another mission, you’ll be dropped to finish cutscene after completing or failing this mission. Thus, in order to complete 10/10 missions, you need to have less than 100,000 before 9th mission. 
4. When you enter a vehicle, game register this as a crime. When you enter/exit a vehicle 16 times, you’ll earn 1* wanted level. It can be the SAME vehicle (this bagged game counts it is as a crime anyway). 

Now, here is a plan to spend money:

1. Park two cars near PnS. Driver’s doors should be placed one opposite another. This way, after exiting the first car, you’ll be placed in front of the driver’s door of the second car (and vice versa). 
2. Enter/exit the cars 16 times = get a wanted level. 
3. Respray one of the cars = -250 points. 
There is a problem here. After 28 resprays (-7000 points) PnS stop working. To fix it, you have to complete any mission. 

And now, here is a plan to complete 10/10 missions:

Phone 3 (+22000) 22000

Phone 1 (+15000) 37000

28 PnS (-7000) 30000

Pink Bulldog (+17000) 47000

28 PnS (-7000) 40000

Beast GTS (+17000) 57000

28 PnS (-7000) 50000

White Cossie (+17000) 67000

28 PnS (-7000) 60000

Phone 2 (+17000) 77000

28 PnS (-7000) 70000

Petrol Tanker (+17000) 87000

28 PnS (-7000) 80000

Yellow Taxi (+17000) 97000

School Bus (+23000) 120000 

Phone 4 (+22000) 142000

After all, the finish screen gave me “:/10” instead of “10/10” due to another glitch. But this time it is ok, because PC and PS1 versions of GTA1 have counter glitches too. 

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