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DS  header logo

Miami Nights: Singles in the City

For: DS

Stood up

Product: Miami Nights DS | Publisher: Ubisoft | Format: DS | Genre: Casual, Celebrity, Strategy | Players: 1-2 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Version: US
Miami Nights DS DS, thumbnail 1
In The Birdcage, Nathan Lane and Robin Williams play the owners of a gaudy gay South Beach Miami nightclub . The two are partners in every sense of the word, having raised a bustling little spot on the strip filled with eligible men and pseudo-women. Miami Nights: Singles in the City doesn't venture into such colourful terrain, but it's still a drag nevertheless. Despite previous success with the game on mobile, this DS version fails to capture the same spunky spirit.

Miami Nights plays out like a sexually frustrated version of The Sims, thrusting herds of panting young men and women into close proximity in house parties, fancy boutiques and hot dance clubs. Your goal, obviously, is to hook up with as many members of the opposite sex as possible.

Controlling your access to this bacchanalian frenzy are a handful of statistical measures, which range from culture and sex appeal to fitness and even criminality, and gauge what kind of person your avatar is. Every action you take in the game influences those stats. For example, working out at the beach increases your fitness and sex appeal, but lowers culture (no stereotypes there then - Ed). Depending on who you're aiming to date, you'll need to do those things that boost the stats which are attractive to that person. You might read up at the library to impress a bookworm or dance the night away to please a party animal.

Completing odd jobs, such as modelling in a hot tub or serving food in a restaurant, also helps your chances at getting lucky since it earns you cash to buy stylish clothes and decorate your abode. Beefing up at the gym and getting a tan at the salon help too. Jobs usually involve you in a quick mini-game such as scrubbing dishes with your stylus.

But before getting into the reasons why Miami Nights falters in its gameplay, it's worth pointing out a strange design choice. Despite the geographical focus contained in the title, the game disingenuously depicts a city comprised solely of white folks. It's weird considering Caucasians only make up around 10 per cent of Miami's population, while Hispanics boast well over 60 per cent, and the city is known for its Cuban influences and culture.

Tampa Nights just doesn't have the same ring does it?

Get past this core inaccuracy and you won't find much to enjoy anyway. Miami Nights has undergone a very rough translation from its mobile form to a touch-enabled Nintendo DS title, losing its accessibility and charm in the process. The touchscreen controls lack precision, gameplay fundamentals are severely unbalanced and the mini-games aren't much fun either.

Everything in the game can be handled through the touchscreen, although it's a pain to do so. The screen frequently fails to register swipes and taps by the stylus, so you often need to tap items and objects twice before the game registers your selection. Moving your avatar with the stylus is particularly cumbersome. You're better off using the face buttons for interactions and the directional pad for moving through the city.

But even if you've had a few daiquiris in real-life and can overlook the problematic controls and political incorrectness, the game isn't all that entertaining. The few mini-games thrown in to break up the monotony of chatting up Miami's most desirable are lame - washing dishes with the stylus is more boring than doing it in person - and most activities don't have a mini-game attached, so you simply have to wait for your avatar to do it. Kinda like watching paint dry.

Conversing with the town's vapid singles isn't much better. Miami Nights features a straightforward dialogue system in which you can pose topics to other characters in an effort to curry favour. Unfortunately, it's entirely too predictable and the same topics always appear. Of course, the 'Do you come here often?'-style of chat up is a staple in bars the world over, but in a game, we expect something a little more interesting. After speaking with the same cookie-cutter figures over and over again, the prospect of having to small talk another target was enough to make us consider the priesthood (or an escort agency).

So while we thought attractive singles and fun in the sun, plus a multi-million selling mobile game, would have provided a strong foundation to create the sort of Sims-crossover that would have done very well on DS, the lack of fun is enough to limit Miami Nights: Singles in the City's appeal. Compounded by inexcusable controls and a general lack of polish that has characterised other Gameloft attempts to port mobile games to DS, it's a no second date recommendation from us.
Miami Nights: Singles in the City
Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson | 22 January 2008
Miami Nights might have made a splash on mobile, but it cannonballs Nintendo DS with poor controls and a general lack of fun
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