Video Game: Midnight Club

Midnight Club is a street-racing-based Racing video game series created by Rockstar San Diego - formally know as Angel Studios and creators of the Midtown Madness franchise. The series includes the following titles:
  • Midnight Club: Street Racing
  • Midnight Club II
  • Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition
    • Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition Remix
  • Midnight Club: Los Angeles


The games feature examples of the following tropes:

  • Alleged Car: The starter car in both the first Midnight Club game and the second one. In the first game, you start off in a pitifully slow taxi, complete with dents and graffiti all over it. In the second game, it does get a little better. However, you still start with one of the slowest cars of the game without any nitrous.
  • Apathetic Citizens: Averted in all of the games. In 1 through L.A., pedestrians will actively try to get out of the way of your car and will make comments about you trying to run them over. In the third and fourth game (L.A.), they will stop and admire your car if you leave it parked in an area too long.
  • Artistic License Cars: A strange case; while cars do have different drivetrains, every game past the first game does not feature 4WD. The second game introduced the "Burnout" ability, and would obviously not work with 4WD, so any actual 4WD cars featured would be converted to 2WD, but which axle is driven is completely dependent on the vehicle itself.
  • Asian Airhead: Gina in II.
  • Big Fun/Fat Bastard - Moses in II, who insults you a bit, but is nevertheless willing to show you (a new driver) the ropes, help you out of a cop chase, and encourage you as you rise up the ranks.
  • Bullet Time: "Zone" in 3 and LA.
  • Captain Ersatz: The cars in the first two games are fictional ones that bear a resemblance to real-life ones.
  • Car Fu: "Agro" in 3 and LA.
  • Car Skiing: One of the many vehicular stunts available in 3 and LA.
  • Comeback Mechanic: Drafting behind another racer gives you a free boost with the same properties as nitrous.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The player character in LA.
    • Along with every other character.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: When the police pull you over in LA, they have different animations for if you have fallen off your bike or not. You can also fake pulling over by driving off while the officer is walking to your vehicle.
  • Difficult but Awesome: Any of the motorcycles in II, 3, or LA. They are difficult to control at first, come with less nitrous boosts, and any crash results in your character falling off. But if you can master their handling and not crash, they become near unstoppable in the hands of an experienced player.
  • Do Well, but Not Perfect: In the time trial races, the second and third rounds are based on your previous time so doing too well in the previous round can make the target time for the next round next to impossible.
  • Down L.A. Drain: Both incarnations of Los Angeles in the series contains the LA River.
  • Downloadable Content: The South Central expansion for LA expands the map to include South Central and introduces lowriders and SUVs as racing classes.
  • Drives Like Crazy: The main premise of the game.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: No matter how well you do in races, the A.I. characters in L.A. will still treat you like crap.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first two games had no licensed cars, and also lacked the detailed customisation that the latter two games are renowned for. The second game also averted Invulnerable Civilians, as you could run pedestrians over and have other racers call you out on it.
  • EMP: A special ability in LA.
  • Face-Heel Turn: In LA, Booke starts out as an obnoxious but benign Quest Giver, but the relationship turns sour when the Player Character fails to help him evade the cops after a team race. The next time you meet, he has become City Champ and you must defeat him in a series of races. By the end of the series, he acknowledges the player as a Worthy Opponent while promising to win his title back.
  • Fragile Speedster: The motorcycles in 2, 3, and L.A. all fall under this trope. They are blindingly fast, can take most corners flat out, and can fit into areas that other cars cannot. However, one mistake on one and you will be flung off, letting the game's rubberband AI easily catch up.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Karol, the proprietor of Hollywood Autos.
  • Genki Girl: Gina in Midnight Club II. Bonus points: she's Japanese.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: How a song called "Strip Tease" made it into a game like DUB Edition is anyone's guess.
  • Hate Sink: Ricky in Midnight Club II.
  • Jerkass: The AI competitors in LA will treat you like an amateur regardless of the rank you've achieved.
    • Angel in Midnight Club II.
  • Improbably Cool Car: Midnight Club 3 has the 1999 Dodge Charger R/T Concept, a car that was well received and displayed at car shows as late as 2004 but never made it to production. The game even lampshades the fact that it is a concept car.
    • You also have the Chrysler ME Four-Twelve and Mc Laren F1 in 3.
      • You can also have a Nissan Skyline in America.
  • Infinity+1 Sword: The Chrysler ME Four-Twelve in 3, and the Saleen S7 in Los Angeles.
  • Joke Character: Some of the vehicles that you can win in the first game are: a bus, a London double-decker bus, an ice cream truck, a meter maid scooter, a British mail truck, and a black cab.
  • Level Grinding: In LA, restarting a tournament means having to replay any race you previously beat. You can abuse this to get infinite Rep (basically the game's equivalent of XP) and unlock the best cars early.
  • Like Reality Unless Noted: Reviews have described LA as a fairly accurate representation of Los Angeles with certain modifications for better gameplay. This includes a metric buttload of real-life LA landmarks including the Hollywood sign, the Capitol Records Tower, Pink's Hot Dogs, the Viper Room, Rodeo Drive, Grauman's Chinese Theater, the Santa Monica pier, the LA River basin, UCLA campus and Paramount Studios to name just a fraction. The game even starts right outside of Carney's Express. However, there are notable exceptions, such as the Staples Center being given the more generic name of "Sports Center" and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum being renamed the "South Central Coliseum". Makes for an almost constant string of Hey, It's That Place! moments.
    • In Midnight Club II, they did this to Tokyo, since real-life Japanese streets are clogged, narrow, and horribly unfit for racing.
  • Mighty Glacier: The SUV's in L.A. and 3 count as this as well as some of the luxury sedans. They don't have the high maneuverability or acceleration as many of the sports cars or sports bikes, but they can easily smash through most objects with minimal speed loss and damage. Combine that with the agro ability and they become nigh unstoppable.
  • Nintendo Hard: To say that these games are tough is putting it nicely. The latest game in the series, Midnight Club: Los Angeles, is considered second only to F-Zero GX in the Nintendo Hard racing game pantheon. The combination of (allegedly) unstoppable AI opponents, impossible-to-shake police chases, heavy, hard-to-dodge traffic, and the where-the-hell-am-I-going nature of the open-world races is enough to frustrate most gamers, even with a well-timed EMP or Roar attack to knock out the competition. Kotaku actually went so far as to call it "a Ninja Gaiden caliber challenge". Rockstar later patched the game to soften the difficulty curve in the early parts of the game. This patch is also integrated into the Complete Edition along with the South Central expansion and associated DLC.
    • Also, despite being called Midnight Club, the game works on a 24 hour-like clock, which means that means half of the time, you will be racing during the day. Hilariously, it is impossible to see traffic coming at you during the day (as half the cars blend into the road itself), but quite easy to see them at night (when their headlights and taillights are among the few things you can see on the road). Furthermore, LA slows down time to show your car spinning out of control as the AI races past you. Therefore, only race at night, stay close to the center of the map, and use the zone skill to keep your speed on turns, and you might just beat the game while only pressing the restart button 1500 times.
    • If "rubberband AI" was in the dictionary, this game would be a listed example. Winning by milliseconds is the norm. After you cross the finish line, the others racers jump across it like they were waiting just off screen. If you screw up anywhere, you will go from first place to last before you can blink and be left in the dust for the rest of the race.
    • In the first game, many people found chasing down the drivers to get the option of doing the race harder than the actual race.
    • To give another example of how Nintendo Hard effects players, if you search this game you'll see references to people preferring to play the game in Race Editor mode where the game just lets you drive around and not actually compete.
    • Complaints over the game's difficulty led to Rockstar taking the unprecedented step of issuing a patch to make the game (allegedly) easier.
    • Even those used to the game remark on the sometimes-impossible (as in actually physically impossible as in "even driving with nitro on all the time there isn't enough time to cross the map") nature of the car-delivery side missions.
      • However at the same time the game actually averts the trope because, reportedly, if the player loses enough races, missions, etc. the game actually scales down the difficulty somewhat. As a result, if you (intentionally or not) lose enough races, but still at least complete the races - as opposed to restarting a race every time you wipe out and the enemy AI gets an insurmountable lead - the game is, in theory, supposed to actually become easier.
  • No Name Given: The player character in LA is only really referred to as "Player".
  • Old Save Bonus: If the player has a save file from Smuggler's Run on the PS2's memory card, the Baja Buggy becomes playable in the first game in the series. (Obviously only applies to the games produced for PS2, as opposed to LA which is for PS3.)
  • Optional Traffic Laws: Usually, but if you break the road laws with the cops nearby, they'll go into Hot Pursuit. Midnight Club II only had cops preset in races.
  • Pimped-Out Car: A key feature of the games. 3 and LA even have prize cars that had been pre-pimped by DUB Magazine.
  • Product Placement: A odd example for the second game. The cars may be fake, but all of them except for your starter have a part or set of parts from actual companies (eg. Enkei wheels for the Supra lookalikes). Played straight in 3 and LA including cars, parts and billboards, as well as a number of recognizable stores such as 7-Eleven and Best Buy dotting the streets.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: 3 has "Real Big" by Mannie Fresh, while LA has "Dundy Lion" by Markus Kienzl.
  • Rice Burner: Present to some extent the first two games, but the series takes numerous levels in Rice Burnerness with DUB Edition. Body kits, near-opaque window tint, spinners and super-bright neon (the latter three even on exotics) are standard on AI cars (and player cars depending on the person.) Toned down in Los Angeles in which the body kits and spoilers are actually designed with each individual car in mind and the AI mod their cars more tastefully. However, the player character can use bright neon and opaque window tint if they desire to.
  • RPG Elements: The Abilities in 3 and LA level up with use. LA also includes XP (AKA "Rep") that unlocks cars and parts at higher levels.
  • Ruritania: Karol has a vaguely Eastern-European sounding accent and his statements on his origin imply he comes from some post-communist country.
  • Shout-Out: The title of this series is a reference to the Japanese street racing team Mid Night Club. In the late 90's, they were infamous for their high-speed runs down Tokyo's Wangan expressway (which is why the "Wangan" kanji is also included in the title).
    • Interestingly, another manga and game series inspired by that group, Wangan Midnight (specifically its Maximum Tune spin-off) has a shout out to Los Angeles. One of the available aero-kits for the Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 in that game was nearly identical to one of the aero-kits for the same car in Los Angeles.
  • Spiritual Successor: The first Midnight Club is this to the first two games of the Midtown Madness series, developed by Angel Studios, which became Rockstar's San Diego division starting before Midnight Club II came out. Furthermore, even the engine for the first Midnight Club game was a heavily improved version of the Midtown Madness 2 engine.
    • In case you want to ask why the third game isn't included, that's because it was developed by DICE instead, while the RS San Diego team pressed on with the Midnight Club series and never looked back.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: most of the items listed under Nintendo Hard could be said to apply under this trope too. LA adds a few more examples, such as anytime you need a specific grade of vehicle in order to race, the vehicles driven by the AI always seem to be superior, faster, and are completely tricked out, whereas, especially with some C- and B-class races, the player is forced to make do with a the equivalent of a golf cart and hope the AI makes an error, wipes out, or is delayed by traffic (all of which, despite claims to the contrary can and does occur).
    • Angel and Ricky actually cheat and give themselves head starts in the second game.
      • In Midnight Club 3, a lot of the racers will have fully tuned B-class cars when you have just gotten the ability to fully upgrade your underwhelming D-class car.
  • The Juggernaut: Aggro, available for luxury cars and SUVs in 3 and LA, allows the player vehicle to ram vehicles aside without suffering any damage.
  • Updated Re-release: Remix editions of 3 and LA, as well as LA: Complete Edition.
    • L.A. Remix is actually a version of LA for the PSP.
      • Averted by LA: Complete Edition, which includes both the original, downloadable and the Remix contents for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Many of the opponent racers in Midnight Club 2 will question you and become angry with you if you run over pedestrians.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: Started this for Racing Games; the first game was a PS2 launch title.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Ricky in II. While he does not actually hit her, he cheats Gina, steals her car, and almost gets her killed by the Yakuza.