- Acceptable Targets:
- The Hare Krishna. Running over an entire row of them will earn you a "GOURANGA!" bonus worth 25,000 points. Then there's the mission "Kill Krishna".
- In the London mission packs, the Krishnas are replaced by "soap-dodging hippies". Running them over nets you a cash bonus along with the message, "KEEP LONDON TIDY."
- Awesome Music: "Gangster Friday" (or just Grand Theft Auto when reused in III, with Joyride in parentheses) composed by Craig Conner.
- Crosses the Line Twice
- Ensemble Dark Horse: Of all of the bosses you work for, El Burro is by far the most memorable due to how over-the-top crazy he is in comparison to everyone else. This was the most likely reason for his return in GTA3 as a notorious porn star and leader of the Diablo gang.
- Fate Worse than Death: After you've built up a healthy multiplier, getting arrested is worse than losing a life. Your multiplier is halved making it an awful lot harder to complete the level. You'll find yourself hoping the pursuing cop takes a shot at you so you die before he can arrest you.
- Fridge Brilliance: This game (and its direct sequel) actively punishes you for traveling on freeways. Buggy cop cars are more likely to explode within distance, the police set up armed roadblocks, and Pay n' Sprays are often located far from the main drag. Highways are useful insomuch as they provide quicktravel to your desired district, but they can't be relied upon. This encourages you to study the map and find discreet routes.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: The Babylon gang being the government and led by the President becomes this when you realize such a scenario was a plot point in Saints Row IV.
- Nintendo Hard: Developed with arcade elements complete with hi-score boards and conceived before the Grand Theft Auto concept was refined, the game's difficulty was ramped up owing to a lack of features that are now standard in modern counterparts in series, such as savegames, unlimited lives, a clear health indicator, an in-game map, missions that can be retried after failing, support for analogue controls (only the PlayStation version had it), or even pausing, coupled with a constricted top down view that makes oncoming hazards harder to predict and unforgiving timed missions. This meant that for players to unlock new levels and cities, they must accumulate the required amounts of money within a single run, making the game a considerable challenge to advance.
- Older Than They Think: Grand Theft Auto V, with its three protagonists, wasn't the first GTA game to have multiple playable characters. Nope, it was this one, which had eight, though only one of them could be picked per game, unlike GTA V where you cycled between all three of them. (Said characters were also split evenly between four men and four women, which makes this, to date, the only GTA game with a possible female protagonist, not counting the online multiplayer modes in IV and V.) The London expansions likewise had their own unique set of eight playable characters, many of them based on various figures of '60s British culture.
- Rated M for Money
- Scrappy Mechanic: In this game, running a red light is enough to get you a 1-star wanted rating. Thankfully, this was dropped in the following games.
- Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer: Lets face it, the main game itself is average at best. But anyone who played this game usually spent countless hours on rampages and trying to survive wanted levels. This game's greatest strength was being sidetracked.
- This was in fact the entire reason the game ended up the way it did: it was originally supposed to be a racing game, but playtesters had too much fun dueling with the aggressive AI it had. So the game was rehauled and ended up becoming what it is today.
- Underused Game Mechanic: During an early mission, you're instructed to steal some drugs from a biker gang and deliver them back to their dealer. A nearby prompt tells you that sometimes, it's better to think for yourself and complete jobs in ways not originally intended in order to yield greater rewards, with the intention being to kill the dealer so that the Vercotti family can turn a greater profit. However, this never really comes up again, as not following jobs to the letter will just result in a bevy of insults directed your way. It's possible that this mechanic was meant to be utilized more often, and could explain why Deever reams you out for allegedly working behind his back, when in reality every job you had taken in Vice City up to that point was for his benefit.
- Vindicated by History: Critics did not give this game the praise you'd expect from a well known classic back in 1997. Its weaknesses, such as graphics and mission variety, were slammed — and, to be quite honest, justifiably so. Its innovations, sandbox gameplay, impressive sound design and the overall freedom it offered the player did still receive praise at the time.
- What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: Two Vice City missions involve assassinating the President and the First Lady, respectively. The latter is accomplished by blowing up a hospital she's currently touring.
- Deever's excuse for wanting her dead? She didn't answer his fan mail.
YMMV / Grand Theft Auto (Classic)