Car Mechanic Simulator: Pocket Edition (Switch) Review
The inexplicable dance music soundtrack seems like it would be great to listen to as I study.
This game barely works.
In video games, you can be anything. Sure, more games lean towards the adventure and murder side of things, but as someone who has sunk hundreds upon hundreds of hours into clothing store management sims, I can appreciate more mundane adventures, too. Car Mechanic Simulator: Pocket Edition promised just such an experience. However, it barely functioned as a game, let alone a car repair sim.
Upon first starting Car Mechanic Simulator, I was presented with a load screen. I sat and waited for the game to load for a few seconds. Then, I took a photo of some drawings I’d been working on earlier in the evening, cropped them and adjusted the contrast, and looked back down at my Switch. The game was still loading. I took a few sips of tea, sent some texts, and stared back down at the load screen. Just as I was ready to give up and play a game that worked, the magical world of Car Mechanic Simulator: Pocket Edition unfolded before me.
After the longest load screen I had seen since the Commodore 64, I expected a lot. I did not get it.
Just the act of moving in this game is miserable. A first-person view should be intuitive, but here, you move with all the grace of a character in a mysterious and long forgotten 64-bit era shooter that one of your friends rented from the grocery store for a party in 1998 because Goldeneye was out that day and they were still set on pretending to shoot something. This kind of movement barely works in a shooter, let alone a game where small, precise movements are required.
Most of this game consists of removing and replacing car parts, piece by piece, so the horrendous, frequently moving camera, is a nightmare. The first task I was presented with in this game was to replace an air filter. However, I first had to remove the air filter cover, which was held on with clips. Removing these clips, thanks to the camera, took 20 minutes. It went so badly that I thought I’d forgotten to check for touch screen controls. They had not been mentioned in what the game considered a tutorial, but a lot of things hadn’t been mentioned in that. I had not. The camera and controls here are just so bad that trying to accomplish anything is a miserable, tedious slog.
The worst part about the camera and control issues is that it’s easy to see how Car Mechanic Simulator: Pocket Simulator could have been an okay game. The graphics are adequate, and the poppy dance music soundtrack, ill-fitting as it is, isn’t awful. The cars themselves are realistically built, with amazingly detailed builds to take dissemble and reassemble, and saving money to buy and collecting cars isn’t a bad gameplay hook. It might never have been an exciting game, but its slow, methodical gameplay probably has an audience. As it is, however, the camera and control issues render it nearly unplayable. I have replaced my headlight bulbs in a parking lot in less time than it took me to repair a car in Car Mechanic Simulator. Fixing my own car was also more fun and rewarding.
By: Allison Bates