Car Jack Streets (DSiWare)

Game Review

Car Jack Streets Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

A fun, if flawed, take on the open world crime game

Rockstar proved last year that an open world game could work very nicely on the DS with the excellent Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. But that was a full-on retail cartridge; how about the download realm, where size limitations are much more strict? Tag Games has taken a stab with Car Jack Streets, and while the game has a few glaring flaws it's certainly no slouch.

The game looks an awful lot like the original Grand Theft Auto from 1997, and you’d be hard-pressed to tell the two apart visually if it weren’t for the character animations and designs. This is certainly not a bad thing as Car Jack Streets looks pretty nice for a DSiWare download, and its good-sized world comes with a few different visually distinct sections to mix things up. The framerate is smooth and there are even a handful of full-length songs on the radio (although they start over every time you enter a vehicle, which can lead to some annoying repetition). The camera zooms in and out dependent on how fast you’re going as well, so anyone who has spent time with a top-down GTA will find it fairly familiar. It almost feels more like the first GTA than Chinatown Wars does, although whether that's a good thing comes down to a matter of opinion.

Where it differs the most is in its use of real time. Your character, Jack, owes a lot of money from crap gambling and is given deadlines to pay it off in chunks by his debtholder. These deadlines are set for real-world dates, and if you don’t have the money by then you’ll be in for Serious Trouble™: you'll be swamped by baddies out to rough you up. You can play and complete as many missions as you like before then, amassing a bankroll that’ll keep you in the clear for a while, but the design is more geared towards doing a few missions at a time on a daily basis. It’s a novel approach for this type of game and one that suits the platform quite well as it encourages you to pop in for a quick hit from time to time.

Mission types range from races to assassinations, and of course there are chauffeuring staples like pizza delivery and taxi driving. Most of the objectives are simple and clear-cut, like get from point A to B with car X in Y amount of time, but when they’re more advanced then mission failures get murky. Early on there is a mission that asks you to keep some gangsters away from a building without harming innocent bystanders, but once we made it over to the building and shot a clearly defined gangster we failed on the grounds of having let other baddies in, even though there were no others in sight. We chalked it up to player error and went about our merry way, but later when the same type of mission appeared and we failed yet again, we couldn’t help but suspect that the blame wasn’t exclusively on us; it might have been either bugs or the game doing a poor job of telling you what you need to know.

It turns out to be a little of both. Usually missions give you a precise location to trigger the next event, but “freeform” ones give you a general area and leave you to figure out exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. One mission told us to “lose” the cops, which meant shooting a set amount instead of fleeing like we did for five minutes. Taxi missions don’t take advantage of the GPS, instead settling for a directional arrow to point the way. It’s not a big deal, but since the GPS is staring at you the entire time it seems shortsighted not to mark the destination. And when picking up a character for an escort mission once, we saw them walk straight through a building to get into our car. There was no underpass or tunnel; they just zipped right through it.

One of the best parts about GTA-like games is messing around in and exploring the city, discovering new areas and finding cool stuff. While the Car Jack map is much smaller than the 2D GTA games (no surprise considering the DSiWare size restriction), there’s still plenty of stuff to find littered about its alleys and nooks. There are 50 hidden packages scattered around and weapons and powerups are strewn everywhere. One of our favourites is the Gang pickup, which gives you a couple of cronies to paint the town alongside. It's a smaller city, but it's still fun to cruise around and cause mayhem.

Another important part of these types of games are the physics, and here the vehicles all feel a little too floaty. Bumping into another vehicle will stop you dead in your tracks or, if you're being bumped send you skidding across the road. The sense of weight is a little off, and as far as we could tell most vehicles will careen off the road too easily, even the larger ones.


Car Jack Streets doesn’t reinvent the sandbox wheel, but it does a nice job of shrinking it down for a downloadable service. The interesting application of real time plays strongly to the DSi's portable nature and could potentially keep you going for a good while. It's ambitious, although not without its share of flaws like floaty physics, and the end result is an enjoyable little sandbox game for short sprees.

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User Comments (39)



T_Neumann said:

I was going to have this anyway, but good to know somebody else quite likes it!




I always find these kind of games very much not my cup of tea so I'm not even going to pass in the same solar system as this one. However, I'm glad it turned out alright for the sake of the quality of the dsiware service



MoFaJo said:

I'm definately glad I bought the game and if you can see past the flaws it is truly an enjoyable experience.



UncleSporky said:

How is it on mature content? Swearing/sex/drugs in the story, in missions, on the radio? How is it compared to GTA? Just want to know if my little sister could play this, since the mayhem is fun even if the content is not appropriate.



Sean_Aaron said:

How little is little? Whether or not there's swearing and such I think games with assassination and other criminal activity would probably be things to keep away from young kids.

I was sceptical, but this sounds pretty good. I enjoyed the first GTA and the remake on the GBA, but that one got tired with the time limits and having to drive across the city on memory alone becoming nearly impossible. Does this game have any of that?



UncleSporky said:

13 and still under parents' jurisdiction, as far as games and movies. I played the first GTA at that age too, but it was hardly as intense as they've gotten recently.



Sean_Aaron said:

Well, I was in my 20s, so it's hard to say, but 13 is probably cool - guess it depends on how strict your parents are and how much she enjoys pretending to be a crim!



cheapogamer4life said:

Big fan of the open world type gameplay so I may have to pick this one up eventually. I also heard this game has a least one thing over CTW, helicopters....sweet. I mean it was made by the team that did the early GTA games. Can you really go wrong with this title?



Kid_A said:

Loved Chinatown wars, but I traded it in (foolishly) when NSMBW came out for some extra cash. This looks like a nice little download that I'll be sure to check out once I have some spare DSi points.



Nintendoftw said:

DSiware can go up to 20 mb.. And since nintendo's method of REALLY doing good putting HUGE games into small amount of memory (Like Super Mario 64 DS which is about 8 mb).



ErrorSupply said:

Good review. I agree with all your points, and think it's worth the 800 pts for someone looking for a classic GTA experience with a pinch of Tamagotchi. A little more polish would have made it a solid 8.



Nintendoftw said:

Ratings DONT matter.. Im tired of paranoid parents watching TV about kids shooting people.



paultag said:

Hey Paul here from the developer Tag Games. Great to see that DSi players are having fun with our game. Feel free to send your thoughts for improvements to us at carjackstreets@tag-games.com You never know we might get some into the sequel! I'll keep an eye on this thread and the one in the forum so if you have any questions about the game please ask!

Thanks and enjoy the game



Discipledoctor said:

Hey Paul! This game SUCKS!!!!

Naw, I'm just kidding. I haven't gotten it yet, but I'm planning to. Do you only get to pay 50,000 a week or is that just the lowest you can pay?



paultag said:

Hey Georgethecow you can make as much cash as you like, but Frankie will only accept $50k a week. He likes to play games with you head like that....



pink_dsi_26 said:

Bummer!!! Australia/New zealand miss out again..., i was so looking forward to this game being released today and even saved up my points for it...and nah we dont even get it.. I really hope we will get it soon.



Bankai said:

Hi Paul, I have a suggestion for you next time with this game.

Release it in Australia.

Thanks for taking my advice on board. I can't comment on whether or not I enjoy this game, because I won't get the chance to play it.



paultag said:

Thanks for all the positive feedback. In terms of Australia and New Zealand then yes we would like to release the game for you guys. The problem we had is that going through Nintendo submission and age rating certification is a major task and Tag is just a small developer at this stage. To get a North America and European release in the same week for our first DS game is something I'm proud we achieved.
We will start work on a submission for our friends in Australia and New Zealand (maybe even Japan?!?!) soon so please be patient.

Just out of interest based on what you know of the game thus far do you think we shoudl explore a full on retail release for a future CJS game? Still keeping a retro GTA style feel to the game but with the real time/Animal Crossing structure and a teen rating?




Discipledoctor said:

Ok, thanks Paul! (And sorry about the sucking thing, I'm just kinda bored). Well, I'll probably buy it...sometime.



killer6370 said:

damn not available in Germany this country really starting making me sick,no shadow dancer,no wild west guns and now even a dsi game is blocked



KrazyKain said:

I actually like it as a downloadable game. maybe it'll work as a retail for the sequal, not sure.. but be sure to keep it on the DS if you want to keep the real time structure. Animal crossing on DS saw alot more action from me then on the Wii, as its more convenient to play a game like that when you can take it with you anywhere.

If you can have some sort of multiplayer feature that works with the cash payments.. either competitive modes, or co-operative missions but whatever you earn goes towards paying back. NWC would be nice, but if local multiplay is the only way, i'm sure i can talk a couple of friends into getting it.



KrazyKain said:

oh also, perhaps have some jobs that are always there, not just the random missions.. they are fun to do ofcourse, but the game advertises that you can do illegal or legal activities, so it would make sense if some of the legal activities weren't random, like, you always had the option to go deliver pizzas or something like that, but would only get paid ever second day or something like that



KrazyKain said:

sorry for triple post but.. disregard my last one anyway, i didnt realize the legal jobs are available every day.



Ovi said:

Looks pretty cool, but still not sure about it. If it was 500 points it would be a sure deal.



Gogata said:

Got this, it is really good, but it can be confusing at times for where to go and there aren't many side places you can visit like in other GTA games(Minigames, shops etc...). Also there are some weird bugs and sometimes objects just disappear without any animations and that looks weird =P. Still good game .



Kyloctopus said:

I get this confused with Gangstar, but either way I like games with talking animals that can fly planes and plumbers that can save princesses.



Monix2598 said:

Great game. I like how tag games incooperated real time play into a sandbox style game. very original. on top of that it was a downloadable title. i think tag games should make a sequal that has a story mode that makes you keep playing to find out what's gonna happen next, like rockstar does with gta. i would really be less skeptical in downloading it like i was with CJS. @Tag Games honestly, this should be a download only seriies until Tag Games gets more attention and becomes a moderately popular third party. a third party everyone knows and remembers.



spamineggs said:

I just picked this up because I like the old GTA games and i have to say that i'm loving it!!! I can see why some people think the driving feels floaty, but i think it's because of the "feature" that this game uses: auto-straight (or so I call it). If you turn and get close to the straight N, S, E, W the car will automatically correct its self and go straight. Before I knew what the game was doing I would over correct all the time and crash hard! This feature makes driving so much easier. I always had problems with top-down games that had driving in it because I would try to go straight but eventually be just slightly off center and drive into oncoming traffic, lol! it took some time to get the hang of it, but now i can maneuver around the city with minimal collisions. Don't remove this from any future sequels!!! also, if you are driving just slightly in the oncoming lane lightly tap the + pad in the direction you want to go and the car will move just slightly and continue going straight. you won't veer off into the side of a building. truly a fun game!



Ven said:

I played thru Chinatown Wars and i have to say, this is a great game with interesting gimmicks and features, but it cannot compare with GTA:CTW, especially since Liberty City is bigger and generally better. good game though, worth the $8

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