Car Mechanic Manager
Switch version tested
Review code provided
Buy, tune, paint, wash, repeat. Or click drag, drop, repeat as Car Mechanic Manager will have you doing. Developer InImages has graced the Nintendo Switch with a time management sim “geared” towards burgeoning motorheads. Unfortunately, almost every aspect of the game is a missed opportunity or a lesson in poor implementation.
The opening has our nameless heroine sick of working long hours for little pay as her boss lazily naps the day away. Striking out on her own with the ultimate goal of hitting it rich she opens her own auto garage. Equipped with limited funds but a burning desire to succeed the player is tasked with bringing in cars to her shop to do everything from simple repairs and washes up to custom paint jobs and speciality tuning.
From the outset, CMM does everything it can to fight you. The tutorial is minimal at best but this highlights the greatest flaw in the game, the controls. The developer has opted to map movement between buildings to left stick but then has the players switch to the d-pad to navigate within the menus. On paper, while still odd, this could work but the controls actively work against you the entire time. In docked mode on a pro controller and in handheld with Joy-cons the navigation remained clunky and at times seemingly unresponsive. Something as simple as retrieving a car from the flatbed so you can work on the tires is a test in patience. This only gets worse when you upgrade your garage and have multiple cars in different areas and have to move them through different areas while also selling them and ordering new cars. A lack of touchscreen absolutely kills CMM. The physical control implementation is in more need of tuning than the cars being worked on.
Visually, CMM is passable. The isometric view is bright and colourful. The cartoon aesthetic fits right in with the management sim genre. The lack of variety really sets in quick however. Only having a handful of car types to work with, you have to get used to seeing the same things over and over again. The menus are tiny and hard to understand. There is a minimalist highlight used to indicate where you are within the menu making navigation all the more cumbersome.
Auidiowise CMM comes in with just the bare minimum again. A backing track plays in the background as generic pneumatic drill sounds and pressure washers erratically bellow. When a new car arrives a quick beep-beep as heard alerting the player to their new project. Minimal input sounds are the only other thing to break up the monotony that fills your ear canals.
Car Mechanic Manager at its best is mediocre management sim, it at its worst it is a clunky mess that actively works against you. Everything that is presented here falls short but nothing as bad as the controls. Simply including touch screen functionality could have made this a more passable title. The Kairosoft line of mobile ports do a much better job of bringing the management sim genre to the Nintendo Switch.