Review: Night Shift, a great classic from Lucasarts
Night Shift is a 2D platformer where your task is to keep a temperamental piece of factory equipment stamping out toys. You have been hired by Industrial Might and Logic to work the night shift in their doll factory. Your job is to operate and maintain the equipment that produces the dolls. You start the shift with a quota of what type and color dolls to produce. You get paid for each doll you produce of the correct type and color. You are docked for incorrectly made dolls, and you are fired if you don’t make your quota. Sounds simple, right? Well you might reconsider. To start off, the doll making machine is called BEAST, short for “Bingham’s Environmentally Active Solution for Toys”. Glenn Bingham is the creator of BEAST. It is made of stuff he scrounged from garbage dumps and defunct laundromats. It is literally held together with wire and string. You start your shift with orders to make specific dolls, in specific colors. You have to charge up the machine’s battery (by riding a bicycle that turns a generator), make sure all conveyor belts are running in the proper directions, make sure all the switches are in the proper positions, make sure that all of the burners and furnaces are ignited, etc. Once you have the machine operating, you have to adjust colors, head and body molds, and any equipment that goes haywire. You also have to fend off pesky rodents (called lemmings), that are attracted by the BEAST’s byproducts, and lawyers. The BEAST is about 6 stories high, and you have to climb and jump about on various platforms and pieces of equipment. If you fall, you loose valuable shift time. Fortunately, at the beginning of the game you only have to worry about a few of the controls. Each shift adds complexity as more of the controls are brought into play.
Each round in the game is called a shift. When the shift ends, and if you have produced your quota, you are given a security code that can be used to re-enter the game at that shift. There is no game save feature. There are a total of thirty shifts in the game. There is an occasional animated “intermission” between some of the shifts. You control F. Fixit with either a joystick, or the keyboard. A handy feature allows you to re-define (and save) the keyboard controls. I have found that I prefer the keyboard over the joystick. The “High Score” list is saved to disk. There are one and two player modes. In two player mode, players take turns playing the game. The game play takes a bit of getting used to. You have to figure out how, when and where to walk and jump. You need to get the hang of using the various tools you are provided. And the lemmings can be a real pain. The play can get very hectic. This is not a game for people who don’t work well under preassure. The graphics are nice. When you first start out, most of the BEAST’s components are covered. Once you get into the game, as more and more features are uncovered, the BEAST comes alive with many moving parts and effects. The dolls you are trying to make are all characters from various LucasFilm movies and games, including Star Wars, Zak McKracken, and Indiana Jones.