If you’re bored of managing restaurants, beauty salons or fitness clubs, perhaps you’ll be “driven” to perform in a handful of auto repair shops. Such is the premise behind World Loom’s Fix-it-up: Kate’s Adventure, a challenging and gratifying business simulation for virtual grease monkeys.
As told by the nicely-drawn and well-written comic book sequences, the story introduces us to Kate who returns home from college only to find her dad’s garage is in financial disarray. Kate decides to help her father out with his Nevada-based shop by cleaning cars, which makes them more appealing to sell, buying broken down lemons and fixing them up for profit and helping to make the rent in order to progress to the next day. Kate will have a limited amount of time to achieve her goals, and new ones will be continually added to keep this young woman on her toes.
After Kate finishes up with her father, she decides to stick around in this business and tackle five other locations such as her Uncle’s farm in Oregon, a Hollywood workshop and many others, each with a different musical theme and cosmetic upgrades to choose from, such as a yard, bar, fence or office. But it’s not all about business as Kate will meet, interact and perhaps hire a cast of colourful characters along the way, including potential love interests.
In order to achieve these objectives per location, Kate will need to construct necessary buildings on the property (if she has enough cash to do so) including a bodywork shop, carwash, repair garage and tuning center. She’ll have to order spare parts in order to fix up 10 kinds of cars, trucks, vans and jeeps (and decide how many parts based on her needs and budgets). And if Kate can perform her tasks well, and quickly, she’ll earn special certificates (including Master Mechanic) and awards, unlock new modes (such as the story-free Freeplay) and open up a dozen bonus levels with new buildings and machines (including a helicopter!).
The cartoon-like game is played from an angled top-down view, where the player will click and drag cars onto a hoist, instruct Kate to clean cars by double-clicking on them and deciding whether to buy and sell by clicking to approve or decline a cash offer. The name of the game is to buy low and sell high. Character dialogue is handled with larger static images of relatives, boyfriends or Sheriff Watson — but keeps in line with the overall look of the game.
Players should enjoy clicking through this simulation – even if you’re not a car buff – but there were a few minor issues all relating to the game’s difficulty, especially as there isn’t a Help button to get you through tough areas. For example, we weren’t sure why you couldn’t make your rent for, say, $10,000, if you just sold a car for $18,000, plus some of the icons on the cars to indicate what work it needed (such as a tune-up or repair job) weren’t always clear or accurate. The bonus levels are even more tough as the game throws additional tasks your way, and a countdown timer, with little guidance on how to handle them.
Overall, however, casual gamers looking for a challenging business game won’t be disappointed with Fix-it-up: Kate’s Adventure.