Tuesday, February 26

Review: Car Mechanic Simulator [Nintendo Switch eShop]


OK, so while diversity is a good thing and there should be games on the eShop that can appeal to every corner of the gaming audience there are sometimes titles that give me pause. Car Mechanic Simulator is one such title. I’m not a mechanic, I’m not terribly mechanically inclined, and the prospect of being one in a virtual sense lacks in excitement. Undeterred, I decided to check this out and I’d imagine even for people who think this could sound interesting the news isn’t so good.


In terms of what I think the game does well it’s best feature is likely the way it displays the individual parts that make up the drivetrain and major mechanical systems. The fact that you can essentially explode the view to see each individual part is pretty fascinating and probably the game’s best feature. The goal is to purchase busted cars, remove their bad parts, replace those with new ones, and then sell the fixed car for a profit to then later, rinse, and repeat with a slow progression of nicer cars.


The theory isn’t a bad one, but the execution is certainly questionable. First, whether playing docked or in handheld mode the controls are a bit wonky and are poorly explained. You sort of jump in, meeting Person X who’ll help you with some aspect, you get a quick runthrough, and then they drop you into the interface to now have success. Only, navigating the menus and specifically getting the stars to align so that you can toggle between parts to remove or then add them is cumbersome. Sadly, this is even true in handheld mode where you pretty well need to continue to use physical controls for some functions.


From there it’s worth noting the lack of quality of life shortcuts in the game, as very honestly you waste far too much time accomplishing too little that’s far too repetitive. You’ll be fixing the same janky low-budget class of cars for the first 10 repairs before the next tier and you can expect more of the same on the following one. This might not have been so bad if when you fix up the body the work needed wasn’t almost always in the same spots and if at any point you could simply select “all” to perform an action. You’ll remove and place every part one by one (and this takes a few seconds per part to fill a gauge), and you’ll play a mini memory game as you also have to buy each one, also lacking the ability to buy in quantity. Need 4 brake pads, you’ll be taking the time to select them one at a time. Multiply all of this across all of the parts you need for every car and the majority of time playing the game will be spent in the menus doing the same thing over and over.


Perhaps people aspiring to be mechanics or who enjoy cars can find some enjoyment here but if you’re looking for any sort of “gameplay” there’s a bare minimum to be found. I actually think this would serve itself better as a sort of instructional tool or even just to let people go through a gallery of cars and appreciate seeing them disassembled over what’s offered. In the end it just falls flat and collapses under the weight of its own repetition.

Score: 4.5

Pros:
  • The view of the mechanical system of a car broken apart is quite fascinating and a great feature
  • If you’re an aspiring mechanic or just love cars perhaps this could have some appeal

Cons:
  • The interface for adding and removing parts is awkward, cumbersome, and feels like it is wasting your time
  • A need for quality of life “quick” options to bulk purchase parts or at least let you buy more than one at a time, as implemented it wastes an enormous amount of time on tedium
  • Honestly there’s very little “game” to be had here