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  • John Bush

Game Review #198: Car Mechanic Simulator (Nintendo Switch)

Updated: Oct 8, 2019

Reviewer: John B.

Developer: Playway Publisher: ECC Games Category: Simulation Release Date: 2.15.19

Price (at time of review): $14.99

Buy Car Mechanic Simulator from the Nintendo eShop here.

I can change a tire; I can’t do anything else to maintain or fix my car, but I can do that. I feel like maybe I should know more about how the vehicle that my life and income so frequently depend on, but I’ve never bothered to look into it. Luckily it hasn’t really been a problem; I’ve had decent luck with everything except flat tires (hence, I can change a tire). I have more than likely just jinxed myself, but whatever. I never expected to become a master mechanic when I picked up Car Mechanic Simulator for the Nintendo Switch, but I thought maybe it would teach me something about cars. And it may have taught me a little something about the names of the different parts of a car’s engine, transmission, and suspension – but by and large, I’m as automotively ignorant as I was when I started. And, unfortunately, I can’t even say I had much of a good time coming to that conclusion.

Replace the Bad Parts, Leave the Good

Car Mechanic Simulator opens with a brief tutorial of its mechanics; and a brief tutorial is all you need. The game is all about buying beat up old cars from barns, repairing them, and then flipping them for a profit. It’s a solid enough idea, but it lacks significant depth. After you buy your car, you can choose to repair the vehicle’s body, engine, or most likely both. For the body, you can repair rust and give it a new coat of paint to increase its value. That‘s pretty much it; there aren’t any dents or dings to buff out or any optional parts to install. So, like I said, fairly shallow.

As for the engine, you start out by highlighting all the parts that need to be replaced. Don’t worry if you forget which parts were highlighted, you can show them again at any time. Also, they show up as rusty parts on your screen, even when they’re not highlighted. You then go through the engine removing the broken parts and, occasionally, other parts that need to come off so you can get to the rusted stuff. Then you go to the part shop and buy all the parts you need to replace. Finally, you go through the engine again, putting the new parts in and reinstalling the working parts. When you’re done, you can go to your parking lot and sell the vehicle for a tidy profit. Then you buy another car and begin again. Like I said with the body repairs, it’s a fairly shallow gameplay mechanic. You just select broken parts and then select empty areas to place new ones, ad nauseam. It really doesn’t make for a fun or satisfying game.

Unlocking the Future… of Monotony

As you repair and flip cars, there are some new-ish things to unlock. The game does have an achievement system, where you get cash rewards for things like spending money at the shop, buying cars from barns, and the types of different cars you have repaired. You can also spend your hard-earned cash to buy more spaces in your parking lot, but I never bought more than one car to fix up at any given time anyway, so I didn’t find this to be an especially useful feature. More beneficially, you can upgrade your tools, which has two advantages. One, it opens up new cars that you can fix. Two, it allows you to repair more portions of a car’s engine. While this makes repairing cars a longer process, it also greatly increases the amount of money you can get for the cars you repair. It doesn’t really do anything to break up the repetitive cycle of the gameplay, but at least it gives you something new to look at while you’re tinkering.

Detailing Service

The graphics of Car Mechanic Simulator are nothing to write home about, but they’re probably not the worst you’ve ever seen. The cars and your garage are well-rendered and fairly accurate (as far as I know) to the car parts they’re presenting. The resolution suffered a little on the Switch’s handheld mode, though. The game doesn’t use real cars, but in a somewhat curious choice, most of the cars you can buy to restore at first are just old sedans; like the equivalent of an old Toyota or Honda. I really didn’t understand why the game doesn’t focus on some sexier cars for a little more visual appeal. The soundtrack is just one elevator music techno track; it’s not obnoxious, but it isn’t catchy or memorable either. It just sort of fades away to nothing even when you’re actively trying to listen to it.

Get the Jumper Cables

Car Mechanic Simulator is a perfectly functional game. Its gameplay mechanics are simple to understand, well-explained, and well-implemented. Unfortunately, they’re just not very fun. The cycle of buy-repair-sell doesn’t have much longevity, and the lack of variety in the gameplay further dulls an already lackluster experience. The art direction is fine, but not enough to overcome the dullness of the gameplay. CMS reminds me of an expanded version of the garage functionality of a game I previously reviewed, Gear.Club Unlimited 2, only they swapped out the excitement of the racing portions for more tinkering options. It’s not an even trade.

Score: 4/10

Buy Car Mechanic Simulator from the Nintendo eShop here.

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*Review Code Provided by Galaktus Agency

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