Each level of Night Shift was a shift of work at the same factory. Because of this, the field you play on never changed. Rather, in the early levels, most of the factory parts you eventually have to maintain and manage function automatically. As you progress, they unlock adding to your responsibilities and the difficulty.
Night Shift was a very difficult game. Not only did you have to mange a huge number of tasks, you had to maneuver a level of conveyor belts and platforms to get to them. You couldn't see the whole level at once and the tools needed were single use. This included your wrench and match which were used to keep some parts operational. If you ran out of those, you would have no chance of winning. And the game had zero margin of error. Each delivered toy had to be made perfectly (and being the end product of many processes, this was hard) and if you didn't meet the quota, the game ended.
The machine you work in. It is made of many parts and is also the playing field.
- Battery - Powered by riding a bicycle. A light bulb indicates how well the battery is charged. Charging the battery is the first step of every shift. It must be repeated periodically throughout the shift as well. If the battery ever goes fully dead, the furnace goes out too and has to be lit.
- Furnace - Must be kept lit or most devices in the factory won't have power.
- Raw Material Feeder - Plug must be in and conveyor belt moving in correct direction
- Solidifier Supplier - Must be kept plugged in and and at the right temperature. The temperature isn't set with a discrete controller, rather you heat and cool the mixture and then set it to maintain that temperature.
- Expander Supplier - Balloons attached indicate pressure levels. Most be kept
- Liquid Concentrate Supplier - Must be controlled with wheel and lever to keep flow of conentrate steady.
- Resin Maker - Has bolts that come loose and have to be tightened.
- Doll Molds - Both head and body molds are set independently. If they do not both come from the same toy, the doll produced won't count.
- Head Punch - After a set number of parts are produced, a boxing glove will punch the mold out and queue up the next mold. This must be kept plugged in and the counter set correctly.
- Paint Shop - The paint must be mixed to the correct color. There are 3 base paints (red, blue, yellow) used to mix 2 additional colors (green and brown). The fan must be plugged in or the paint won't dry.
- Bonding Unit - Glues doll parts together. If the parts don't match, it is sometimes possible to shuffle the order they enter the machine to ensure a match.
- Quality Controller - Is not controlled by the player, automatically rejects incorrectly made dolls. Dolls have to be made from one head on top of one body.
- Stock Checker - Counts the number of dolls made correctly against the daily quota. A correctly made doll still has to be the right type and painted correctly or it won't count towards your quota. Once you've reached the goal, extra proper dolls of any kind will raise your score.
- Packaging - Each properly made doll must be placed in a crate after it has passed the stock checker.
All tools are single use but you can hold multiples and they carry over between shifts.
- Hourglass - Extends the shift timer
- Cash Bonus - Raises your score
- Lemming - A male named Cliff who tampers with equipment and a female named Jodee who will latch onto you, slowing you down. They can be kicked, vacuumed, or fed to the Venus Trap.
Playable Characters: Both play the same, but one is a woman and one a man.
The dolls you manufacture all featured in other LucasArts games (mostly being characters from George Lucas movies).
- Darth Vader
- Luke Skywalker
- Stormtrooper (called "Trooper Toddlers" in the manual)
- Indiana Jones
The manual was written as though it really was the maintenance manual for the machine you are operating. Complete with torn pages, scrawled notes, and coffee stains. It was also made to look as if it was typed on a typerwriter missing an 'e'.
Like many games of that era, Night Shift came with a code wheel. You matched the heads and bodies of characters from LucasArts games to get 4 fruits you'd enter as a security clearance before playing.
Although it does not come up in the game, the manual has a very strong recycling theme with all the materials being recycled from something else.