Fix-it-Up: Kate's Adventure
From newcomer World Loom comes the latest resource management game to take the action out of the diner/restaurant/shop/airport: Fix-it-Up: Kate's Adventure. More of a business simulation along the lines of Build-a-lot, you must help Kate expand her profits by buying cars at low prices, fixing them up, and selling them for a hefty profit. The combination of time management and business acumen creates a delightful final product made even better by its whimsical art style and soundtrack.
When Kate returns home from college she finds her father's garage is failing. She decides to help out by cleaning and repairing cars to sell them at a higher profit so the shop can make its rent. As Kate soon learns, however, she has a knack for this business, and after her father's garage is back on its feet, she takes off to half a dozen locations from backwoods farms to Hollywood, California.
Each round of Fix-it-Up: Kate's Adventure has a set of objectives to complete and will progress in much the same way. Cars drive by, some of which are broken and worth less money. Click a car to have the owner make an offer, then drag the vehicle to your lot and start fixing things up. A trip to the repair shop is necessary for broken cars, while the body and/or tuning shop spruces up the ride and increases its resale value. Once all the trimmings have been added, drag the car or truck to the sales lot and wait for someone to make an offer. You can also leave cars on the lot and earn rent, depending on how urgently you need the cash.
It wouldn't be much of a game if you didn't have to manage your resources, and in Fix-it-Up: Kate's Adventure they come in two varieties: spare parts and employees. In order to fix broken vehicles and run them through the body shop, you need a certain number of parts. These can be ordered at any time provided you have the cash. The number of employees affects how many jobs you can perform at once, such as sending one worker to wash a dirty car (dirty cars earn no rent) while three others add a spoiler to an expensive truck.
Each location in Fix-it-Up: Kate's Adventure is arranged differently from the last, which adds a surprisingly strong feeling of variety to the game. I never realized how stale the locations in some time management sims can be! A number of achievement trophies can also be earned, and we all know how much everyone loves achievements! Earning special certificates can unlock new modes of play along with bonus levels, new buildings, and extra machines.
Analysis: Another surprise resource management game that's actually fun (see Parking Dash for my previous bewilderment), Fix-it-Up: Kate's Adventure builds a little variety into itself by including elements of tycoon sims while toning down the twitch gameplay several notches. Instead of worrying about how fast you can click or what order to do things, your main tasks is planning how to maximize your profits. There isn't much thinking involved, however, as this is still a casual game, but the level of financial decision making is sufficient to induce a thoughtful pause or two.
On the side of disappointment, I really wanted to see a little haggling in the game, there was so much potential to expand on this aspect of the business. Buying and selling cars is a straightforward "yes" or "no" response, and everyone seems to offer the same fair price. Just like in real life! (Note: That's sarcasm.) Even a little fake haggling would have made me feel ten times the car tycoon. Let me turn down an offer in the hopes the next
sucker fine citizen will offer just a bit more.
A surprising winner in my book, Fix-it-Up: Kate's Adventure mixes all the elements in just the right proportion to make a fun, satisfying, and engaging time management game.