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September 13, 2013

Midnight Play Pack

Some games don't necessarily need to exist. This sounds rude, I know, because video games are now recognized almost as artistic creation, but... yeah, that's the case. Some games don't need to exist, because they are just things we already have everywhere else. Might it be on Internet, on the computer, or simply as other, better games out there. Yes, I'm well-aware that it's rude, but it's true.

What it doesn't say: Developers have the
final say on how much their game connects.
Welcome to Midnight Play Pack, a collection of five different games in the same DS cartridge. Since those five games don't have anything linking them together, I'll just review each one of them, one at a time. A little note before I begin, though. This is more of a pet peeve of mine, but personally, I hate when games claim to open the way to multiplayer, except, not really. Let me explain. In Midnight Play Pack, the games can almost all be played in multiplayer mode... But you know what's the problem with this? You know the deal with the DS: You must stand close to the other DS and wait for the other DS to connect with yours. For some games, it works perfectly well. Take Mario Party DS, as an example. This party game will send requests to all the Nintendo DS around. That is the ultimate example of connectivity with such a game. However, there are other DS games out there that offer the multiplayer option... only if the other players also have this game in their console. And guess what? A big lot of those games happen to be, well... to put it nicely, “not popular enough”. As in, the odds are pretty damn low that you'll find someone else with that game. That's partly why playing with someone else over Internet thanks to the Wi-Fi connection helps a lot, but even then, you might just not find somebody connected who's playing that one game. And this sucks. A lot. I previously talked about games that offer this kind of sharing yet aren't popular enough for it to work.


Guess what? Midnight Play Pack can only connect with a Nintendo DS that has the same game in it! ...As a result, you better forget the multiplayer option in this freaking game. You'll never see it unless you purposely buy two of those. And even then, what says you will actually have a multiplayer mode that is worth it?

So, what are the five games in this collection? An Arkanoid lookalike, lots of solo card games, bowling, poker and pool. Let's take a look at them. Not necessarily in this order.

BLOCK BREAKER DELUXE

Fun.

Do you know what Arkanoid is? It's a game in which you control some kind of bar at the bottom of a screen, of which the majority is covered by blocks of different colors. A ball goes back and forth between the blocks and the bar, and if you don't knock the ball back towards the blocks you lose a life. This is the exact same thing... except with a different name and a story! You heard right, they created a story to a game that didn't need one.

In this world, Block Breaker is a renowned SPORT, with places to play it everywhere in town, and there's even city-wide competitions! And what's the prize for the winner of this huge tournament? A Yatch worth ten million dollars. No, I'd like to, but I'm not kidding. I'm serious.

A new version of the
same fun.
So, you basically have to go around town, complete a number of levels in a location, move to another and do another number of levels, and so on. You can also go to the boat accosted to the docks to play random levels among those you already completed. Also, in each location, the final level has a boss of some kind. Again, no, I'm not kidding. Though, to be fair, those are also pretty fun. Also, some of the “bosses” are like tennis matches.

As the game progresses, you can “upgrade” your game to have a powerful ball and/or bar right from the beginning. That's a nice little idea. You win money when you complete levels, and that's how you pay for those upgrades.

Anyway, that one game is pretty fun, quite enjoyable. The story is basic, but for this game, that's all we need. My only complaint, though, is that it's not very long. Though, why should it be? There are four other games to play in this!

MIDNIGHT POOL

Something tells me the guys
are not looking at the game.

The menu indicates “Single Player”, so let's go with that. As I said earlier, multiplayer is pretty much pointless here. Thus we get Instant Play, Arcade Mode, Story Mode and Challenges. The Story Mode pits you against numerous opponents, and isn't actually much of a story. As for Instant Play, it puts you against an enemy, no matter which one, and you just have to try and win. Simple enough. Arcade Mode makes you select a difficulty, then the character and the room, and finally the type of game.

During gameplay, the 3D is pretty good. Just the quality you expect from a game on the Nintendo DS. It's the same quality on Bowling and Poker, by the way. I try playing the so-called Story Mode now, and there's... no tutorial. Well, thanks. That means you have to figure out the rules by yourself. I'm not a … casual pool player, so I'm not really used to the game, which is why I find it kind of sad that we don't get a tutorial.

Anyway, Story Mode goes as such: You travel around the United States, challenging people in multiple States, in what I guess to be a countrywide tournament or something. Creative.

I gotta admit, once you get the hang of it (and you read a pool rulebook), the game can be a lot of fun. If you want to solve “puzzles”, kind of, you can select Challenges in Single Player Mode, and you'll have to find the right angle to toss all the balls in the table's holes. I am even surprised that this game offers so much, considering it's just one out of five on the same cartridge. Oh well, all the games contain this much stuff, probably the developers tried to fill as much of the cartridge's space as possible. That's nice from them.

MIDNIGHT BOWLING
This is yet another game on this cartridge. If I wanted to be cruel, I'd say we can play much better bowling thanks to Wii Sports Resort, but that would also be lame for the blog. So, when you select Single Player, you can choose between Instant Play, Tournament, Free Mode and... Bonus Mode? Instant Play, once again, refers to a single match against an opponent selected quickly. Tournament is this game's Story Mode, during which you play bowling against five opponents, one at a time. You have five difficulty levels, and the opponents' talent increases with each, so the last difficulty level pits you against bowling experts. Free Mode lets you pick your character, the opponent, the bowling ball type... Finally, Bonus Mode is like Midnight Pool's Challenge Mode; you need to toss the bowling ball just the right way to make all the pins fall.

When you strike, you even
see a video of your success!
You can play as six different characters, but you must unlock the last ones, and this game (and all the other on this cartridge) work with a money system. You need to buy those new characters, as well as their new outfits.

As for how the game works, it's simple, really. You pick up the bowling ball with the stylus and then toss it towards the pins in a quick toss. Then, you can rub on either side of the ball to make it go the opposite way. Need it to go a little left? Rub at the right. This technique could easily let you have a spare – or a strike! - on each square.

Well, what is there to add to this description? It's a fun little game, and you can definitely spend a few hours with it. Yes, definitely. However, it tends to get a bit repetitive, so you might wind up bored with it after a while. Hey, isn't it a good thing that there are other games on this cartridge?

MIDNIGHT HOLD'EM POKER
Not my favorite game, but
it's a good time-waster.
As far as I know, I never played real poker. I'm not a good liar, I probably wouldn't be talented enough to have the slight chance of winning. However, poker is all about hiding your emotions and trying not to reveal your hand accidentally. That's why a big part of that fun is removed in Midnight Hold'Em Poker. Then again, it's probably the same with online poker sites... whatever.

When you select Single Player Mode, you have the choice between Instant Play, just like the other Midnight games in there, Tournament, which I guess is Story Mode, and then Cash Game. Also, no matter which option you picked, you are then brought to another choice between Texas Hold'Em, Omaha and Omaha Hi-Lo. What are those? Er... Well, at least for this one, I found a tutorial in the Extras option of the main menu. The game explains to you what's the goal with each of those types of poker games, and well... It explains everything: How to play, the poker terms, everything. That's pretty cool.

The game's language is
the one selected on your DS.
There's only one problem: Again, poker has a big part of bluff and strategy, but it's also a big part of luck. You need to get good cards, or at least cards that work with the five ones dealt on the middle of the table. The tutorials are rigged to make you win (as I found out), but in the real game, it's not like that.

It could be a fun game, but I have Donald Duck's luck, so I hardly even win at this game – and even if I do win a part in the tournament mode, I'll lose at the next, usually out of bad luck. No doubt, people with more experience in poker would have better chances than me.

By the way, you can still win trophies, unlock new characters, and so on and so forth in this game; you'll have to be better than me at it, though, because I'm still stuck with Poker Lady and Cowboy Man.

PLATINUM SOLITAIRE
Hm. Hardly ever played
Freecell.
Each casino also has its
pretty face.
Platinum Solitaire is a collection of many solo card games you can play: Solitaire (the same you can play on your computer), Golf, Pyramid, Freecell, Yukon and Spider. I tried them all and yeah, it's just the regular game. There's nothing really special in there. Everybody played Solitaire once in their life. I suppose. A tutorial is provided for all the games, so you can actually learn how to play each one of those games. That's good.

You also have the choice between Quick Mode (which lets you play any game quickly), and Casino Mode. Without being a Story Mode per se, Casino Mode is basically a mode that makes you bet money when you play a game. Before you start playing, you bet an amount of cards that you'll successfully save, and you must reach that amount of cards in order to win much, much more money. Also, you have access to six different casinos in the game, with only the first one unlocked. Each casino has its star game, with which you gain much more money than with the other games at that casino. You must unlock the five other casinos by paying the amount of money required to unlock each. So, in a way, you can consider the game beaten once you unlock all casinos and get all the achievements.

I forgot to tell that, didn't I? There are achievements for each card game in this! Save all the cards during a game, win a game in less than X minutes... the regular stuff.

While I admit it's fun to discover new solo card games, this section is made of games we've all seen before. Solitaire comes in with every version of Windows, and you might not play the other games much, unless you are already familiar with them and know tricks to win more easily. The Casino Mode is a nice touch, but you can just play Solitaire all the way through and still unlock the last casino in a matter of hours. A basic game, in the end.

---

...So, alright, alright. I might have been a little rude at the beginning, saying that this game collection as a whole didn't really need to exist. But, let's face it: Arkanoid-inspired games are all over Internet (though the one in this has its merits), you can play pool in real life and it will be better, Wii Sports and its sequel are much better when it comes to bowling, poker is also much better in real life, and you won't play much anything else except Solitaire, Pyramid and Spider in the last game. So, in a way, no, this game didn't need to exist. But on the other hand, each separate game is also quite fun, so you can't really complain that there is no value to the game, as it's not true; there IS some value. Maybe game collections like those are just not my cup of tea. Buy it if you think you'll have fun with it.

Why must I always feel bad when I'm too harsh on a game?

Oh, and don't whine when you realize that the multiplayer mode wasn't worth it. You'll have been warned.