This is a franchise that does exactly what you expect. Car Mechanic Simulator Pocket Edition unsurprisingly simulates being a car mechanic. The franchise began back in 2014, and there’s a title for every year, except 2017.
For this review, I played the Pocket Edition, based on Car Mechanic Simulator 2015, which has just released on the Switch. The handheld garage was everything I expected and more, and included tasks, problem-solving, tools, and a little bit of chaos.
Switching It Up
Playing simulator games on a console always feels like a risk. I’m very much a PC gamer at heart, and while I play enough console games to make it worthwhile owning one, I mostly use my Switch for platformers. Simulator games are often designed for a mouse and keyboard interface, so playing them on anything else can feel clunky. Luckily, this game somehow manages to avoid that, at least for the most part.
You begin the game in a simple garage, with a desk, computer, and phone awaiting your interaction. Since this is a budget set up, you’ll have to do everything yourself, starting with picking up the phone. This gives you tasks, and accepting them will send cars into your garage. Be careful though, as there’s not much room. You can’t take on too much at once.
After the cars come in, you get to the fun part: taking them apart.
Controlling Car Maintenance
The controls take a little getting used to, but mostly they feel reasonably fluid for a Pocket Edition game. I played on my undocked Switch, and it felt like the title was designed to be enjoyed this way. The camera was a little rough, but the controls were reasonably intuitive and the menus quite straight forward. My main problem was that apparently, being a mechanic is not a sound backup career for me.
After my disastrous bus driving experience, I shouldn’t have been surprised really, but apparently car maintenance is pretty complex and this game takes that into account.
Maintenance And Mayhem
The game aims to be as realistic as possible, and this includes having a car that allows you to remove, check, and refit many different parts. So many different parts in fact, that taking them all off yields a comical effect, leaving you with a bare shell on a lift.
The early tasks (as well as some of the later ones) will involve checking and replacing a number of filters. The air filter is helpfully visible once you realize you need to remove the catches to take the cover off, but the others proved challenging (at least for this car novice).
For those who know their way around a car, I’ve no doubt that this task will feel pretty satisfying and far easier. You can view the engine from many different angles and enjoy solving the puzzle of which parts have to come out in order to get to the one you need.
Running The Garage
Despite knowing nothing about cars, it was still an enjoyable experience to try and fix them. These early tasks feel like a huge puzzle, where you must locate the misplaced piece in order to complete the jigsaw. As you progress further through the game using the lifts, purchasing tools and diagnostic equipment adds a new dimension to the game.
For those with some mechanical knowledge, the learning curve is likely to be much shallower, but even for a novice, it was manageable.
While the game does not feature amazing graphics and complex mechanics, it does do exactly what the name implies, and there’s a simple joy in that. The portable nature of this edition also makes the graphics seem fine and they don’t take away from the enjoyment.
If you love cars and are looking for a well-built and engaging simulator game that allows you to diagnose issues, fix problems, and build up a garage empire, then this game is for you.
As you move further on and make more money, there are management features to explore and more complex mechanics to enjoy. You can fix up and auction cars, as well as own a car collection. Your workshop will grow and eventually develop into an empire.
Unfortunately, I haven’t unlocked all the advanced features yet because they don’t hand the keys of a national chain of garages to just anyone, which is probably for the best.
4 Out Of 5 Stars
A Switch copy of Car Mechanic Simulator Pocket Edition was provided to TheGamer for this review. Car Mechanic Simulator Pocket Edition is out now for the Nintendo Switch.
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