When Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars was announced at Nintendo's E3 2008 press event, there were audible gasps in the audience. Though Manhunt 2 had already been released on the Wii, Rockstar's anarchic series seemed unsuited to the DS. Besides the technical challenges the series' sprawling environments would present, it would also be a rare ultraviolent offering on the family-friendly handheld.
Today, those fearing a watered-down T-for-Teen rated GTA debut on the DS can relax. In an interview with Edge magazine, Rockstar's vice president Sam Houser said that Chinatown Wars won't be diluted in the slightest.
"No one disagreed with [Rockstar president and Dan's brother] Sam [Houser]'s very clear edict that GTA has to be an M rating," Houser told the British magazine. "It can't be softened to make it family-friendly--that's not the game we're making...[Nintendo] didn't want us to make a GTA for kids, and we weren't interested in making a game we wouldn't normally make."
Though he didn't confirm rumors of a stylus-based weapons-assembly minigame, Houser did give one example of Chinatown's Mature content. The title will include a Dope Wars-esque drug-dealing minigame, in which players will sell six different types of drugs according to demand in various neighborhoods. [UPDATE] A leaked screen on fan site T3.com shows the drugs to be cocaine, heroin, ecstasy (MDMA), acid (LSD), Weed (marijuana), and downers (barbiturates).
As for the prospect of a GTA Wii game, Sam Houser reportedly told Nintendo Power that the series wasn't a good fit on Nintendo's uber-popular console. "It didn't feel natural to us, I guess," he said, according to an advanced copy obtained by fan site Nintendo Everything. "It really was that the DS felt like it had a lot of interesting challenges that would be totally different from what we'd done in the past. The stylus and the chance to use minigames in that way was really interesting and exciting to us, and we thought we could integrate seamlessly between those two modes. And it would be the chance to make something really good on a handheld with our handheld-focused team."
So will there ever be a Wii GTA? Houser wouldn't rule out the possibility, saying, "We haven't really done any concrete, major thinking about the Wii, one way or another."
Nintendo Everything was also kind enough to post several scans from the forthcoming Nintendo Power, which shows Chinatown Wars will have an isometric perspective, not the 2D top-down view of 2004's "GTA Advance" or the two GTA Game Boy Color games. The screens also show the game will have a cel-shaded graphics and will include several other minigames, including hotwiring cars and sorting through dumpsters.
Chinatown Wars' gameplay has also apparently been modified, allowing for shorter missions that allow players to restart where the action begins, eliminating GTAIV's long pre-mission commutes. Set in part of Liberty City, the game will also reportedly have a 24-hour day/night cycle and a reworked wanted system, which favors taking out police cars versus escaping. The official Chinatown Wars site also sports a Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection logo, indicating some online play elements are in the works.