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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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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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