Touch Mechanic DS Review

If you ever wanted to become a master mechanic without setting foot inside a smelly body shop, Touch Mechanic may intrigue you. It takes the complications of fixing a sports car (or another vehicle of choice) and puts it into a format similar to Atlus' Trauma Center games. It's a good idea, but the game needs some serious fuel injection.

You begin just like a young up-and-comer would, stepping into the garage for the first time and learning the ropes on how to fix cars. You'll have access to a number of tools, from basic stuff like hammers and screwdrivers to more complicated devices like an electric sander. An older, wiser tutor guides you through each stage, filling you in on what needs to be done with each car and then letting you have at it.

At first, you may notice similarities to the superior Trauma Center series. However, frustration sets in much sooner than expected. This set-up is far too complicated because it requires you to find the specific trouble points on a car, zoom in and take them apart piece by piece. You have to make sure the correct screws are ready, and remember where all the parts were. Younger players will be easily frustrated unless they know a thing or two (or a hundred) about cars. Even if you manage to get the hang of this system, very little changes over the course of the game.

You're only allowed to make so many errors before failing. At the beginning, you're expected to make a few mistakes, but this process becomes grating in the later stages. No matter how savvy you are with vehicular knowledge, you'll screw up. And if you're not careful, it'll cost you. This sucks most of the fun out of the game, along with the dwindling cash meter that ticks away on the screen.

Touch Mechanic's most redeeming feature is the ability to purchase parts off vehicles with whatever cash you can scrape up. From there, you can customize your vehicle of choice, even though you never get to take it for an actual cruise to see how it performs. You just look at it. It's like buying a classic Ferrari and letting it sit in a showroom without getting behind the wheel.

Touch Mechanic might be worth a rent if you're nuts about cars or know what it takes to get an alternator ticking again. Everyone else, however, should skip it. Its punishing learning curve and lack of fun steered it in the wrong direction.

What's Hot: Interesting approach to fixing cars, some customization options are available.

What's Not: Way too easy to make errors and lose the game, gameplay doesn't get any better over time, bland presentation.