GTA Chinatown Wars is the best portable game I’ve played in years. Its status as not just a disappointment in sales but as an actual flop is a lesson in marketing. Take2 and Nintendo really haven’t understood the DS demographic, as their marvellous outing just isn’t finding an audience, despite stellar reviews and huge brand recognition. Huge on other platforms, that is.
It’s not like they’re doing anything wrong. The Rockstar Social Club is a great way to extend the game’s appeal beyond the initial purchase and something I’m hoping other developers and publishers take note of. I didn’t know you could do such things on the DS, such as the Rampage Tracker, which shows you on a cool map which side missions you’ve found and which you have yet to find and which rating you’ve got on them. So you’ve got to manually sync your progress over Wi-Fi, but it’s an easily accessible feature and it only takes a couple of seconds. No need to input any passwords or anything. (Obviouly you still need to link your DS friend code with your Social Club account.)
The game itself is just as great as everyone’s saying. It’s easier to get into than its big brothers and its exceptionally well-written dialogue and missions are always entertaining. The controls work very well and the numerous touch screen mini-games are all excellent diversions. This is how you should bring a big-screen franchise to the DS.
But the Nintendo crowd doesn’t seem to care. In most games stores, I don’t even look at the DS/Wii shelves as they’re full of shovelware, except of course if I’m looking for something. Of course Take2 is too smart to not be aware of the Nintendo dilemma and they’re counting on the word spreading and the sales picking up over a long period, but the initial numbers do seem damning.
Also, region-free gaming? I bought this game in the United States and put it into my European DS and it worked, somewhat to my surprise. I did the same with a couple more DS and PSP games on the same trip. Someone explain to me why it is such a bad thing to be able to do this on my PS3 or 360.