Have you ever wanted to live another life? Maybe the life of a glamorous star living it up as a single in the city of Miami? If the answer is yes and you’re not penning a multi-album deal with Capitol Records, then Miami Nights might be the perfect diversion until you reach that pinnacle of success. I know it’s not getting any warmer in Canada, so I’m welcoming a trip to Miami, even if it’s only on the Nintendo DS.
Imitating life, or the hit gaming franchise The Sims, Miami Nights: Singles in the City has gamers playing for romance, or just to get a little freaky. Fortune and fame awaits along with the woman, or men that follow. In Miami dreams can come true, well; at least they do in Miami Nights: Singles in the City for the Nintendo DS.
Miami Nights obviously borrows their game structure from EA’s best selling Sims series with their own twist of dating thrown into the mix. If you have played any of the Sims games before then you’ll feel right at home in Miami Nights. Staring off in Miami you need to attend to all the little details that you’ll probably love to hate, like watching your characters fatigue, hunger, nature call, and hygiene and so on. Although, thanks to either poor programming or a relaxed focus on the physical facts of life, your character in Miami Nights only has to sleep, eat and shower every few days. As you could imagine this frees up a lot of extra time to chat up the ladies, or fellas.
Living life in Miami is simple. Wake up, get dressed, get a job and earn some cash. Then chat up the ladies to build your charisma and look for the right "IT" people to build your career. The aim for a career in Miami Nights is devided between an actor, singer, or model. Chasing the dream in Miami Nights isn't as dramatic as it might seem if you actually wanted a career in any of these fields. In Miami Night you basically jump through the hoops, following a number of point a, point b trips to talk to a person, or buy things to impress other people. Miami Nights will have you running in circles in no time and its one large circle that never stops. The minute you make progress in your respected career, you will have to repeat the steps of earning cash, or learning better skills to impress a certain crowd. This could be true to real life, who am I to judge? But, Miami Nights feels a little empty.
The reason Miami Nights feels empty is because the rewards for playing don’t seem to translate. Sure you will get a new crib, a new set of wheels and some fancy friends, but besides a few French kisses from the opposite sex; there is no reason to keep on stringing along. It seems your character grows by statistics only and not real personality, or progress. It’s not hard to impress the opposite sex and in no time you will max out the five stars or heart indicator. After a short play time you will be locked into routine conversations just to get through the game often without any real substance.
For conversations you will have four topics that will either gel with the person’s personality you’re talking to or not. Sports, Politics, and Fashion are the main focus. Besides talking you have the option to flirt which brings up Kiss on the Cheek, Kiss on the Lips, French Kiss and Break Up. The Kiss on the Cheek is a nice ice-breaker although most of the time the opposite sex will let you know when they want the big smack by saying “Kiss Me on the Lips!” If it was only this easy in real life! Other those options and a criticizing and joking talk topics you can “Share” with the person.
Sharing in Miami Nights is inviting the person to dance, or to your home... for more depressing talk time. You can also give a gift which can be bought off of “Dealers” This breaks down to a drinks which gives you a buzz and gets you drunk, Miami Nights calls this “Crazyness”, money, flowers, tickets, jewellery and vitamins which really gets pawned off as drugs in the game. I was a little shocked when I have someone a vitamin for the first time in Miami Nights, they started to feel a little "crazy" if you know what I mean making it easier positive response from them. The last option is to Assault. Yeah, you can steal, or assault someone! Now I can have a few drinks eat a few tasty vitamins and get into a fight, I guess this is a real simulation of the bar scene.
The status of friends only falls into three categories, Buddies, Best Friends, and Best Friends Forever. What can you and you’re friends do? Well not much, you can go on dates, but there really isn’t any need. For a game that is about dating, it’s strange you don’t have to date. Just hook up with a stranger and in a few seconds you’ll be swapping spit. On a side not, French Kissing will fatigue and lower your personal hygiene. Even if kissing for hours was fun, you “Friends” mouth will get tired from kissing and they will tell you.
Making the opposite sex interested doesn’t take much to get their curiosity rolling. High Charisma is the most important skills followed by a little bit or intelligence, the ability to tell a few good jokes and sex appeal will do it. To boost you stats in those areas all you have to is talk to people for charisma, read a book, or visit a museum for intelligence and culture. You can also watch comedies on TV for humour, or work it out at the beach or go for a swim to boost you natural fitness sex appeal. Really, this is all borrowed from the The Sims franchise which isn’t a bad thing. At times the micro-management can be fun to manage since you can talk about things like tongue piercings or hit the DJ booth to do some scratching.
In Miami a far amount of locations open as you progress through the game including Washington Ave’s Restaurant and Beauty Salon where you can get jobs. The other locals like Coral Street, Shore St., Liberty St. Have locations like the Beach (Including the VIP Section), Concert Hall, Police Station, AutoBar, Manor Nightclub, Aquarium, Library and more. Each place usually gets unlocked one spot per area, unless it’s a street you can walk down.
Besides prowling these areas in search of a score, working is a necessary evil which include demeaning events like being objectified and placed in a bathtub for display, or the esteemed honour of giving speeches at the local museum. Some jobs have simple touch activated mini-games and others run on auto-pilot. The mini-games never really become much fun besides the initial run-through which is straining since you’ll need to earn a lot of money during your game. This means you’ll be running back and forth serving people food while you’re getting wrinkles wasting away in bath water. Everyone scarifies in the name of fame!
So I have become the jetsetter, I’m Famous with all the blinged out trimmings which is all confermed with a text message from my in-game friend Bree. If Bree says, “You Rock! You’re the new rising star in the Miami Sky” then I've made it to the big time. However, obtaining fame and fortune isn’t everything, as they say “fame can’t by happiness” and this remains true for Miami Nights on the DS.
A fun diversion, or guilty pleasure that doesn’t have any substance is the best way to discribe Gamelofts version of single life in Miami. Miami Nights: Single in the City isn’t a game that will appeal to everyone, only Sim fans should check out this Miami emulation of EA’s franchise. If you want to travel to Miami in game form, I would recommend hooking up with Tommy Vercetti and cruise Vice City. Rent if you must, otherwise Miami Nights is a bust.
Gameplay: 5, Graphics: 7, Sound: 5, Innovation: 5, Mojo: 6. Final: 5.6 / 10