Their have been three entries in the ‘Fix It Up’ time-management casual game franchise from G5 Entertainment. The first game was called Fix It Up: Kate’s Adventure, which I reviewed here. I had some issues with the strategic approach of the game that kept me from fully enjoying it, but the two later games I enjoyed very much. Now that it has been released on the Mac I was intrigued to go back and check it out again. Would I love it … or still find it lacking? Let’s take a look!
Get ready for a time management adventure that will keep you on your toes! Kate comes home from college to find her dad’s auto repair shop grappling with financial difficulties. But she’s not going to let the family business go down without a fight! So, roll up your sleeves and prepare for a variety of challenges in six exciting locations. You will find over 10 kinds of cars, several different workshops, and many hidden surprises in the game! Can you rebuild the family’s auto repair business? Expand the franchise from arid Nevada to glamorous Hollywood. Save the shop, fix up cool cars, and maybe even find true love in Fix-it-up: Kate’s Adventure!
30 Challenging Levels in 6 Settings
10 Types of cars
12 Time and Money Challenges
Hours of time management fun!
The initial premise of Kate’s Adventure is fairly interesting – Kate is trying to help her father get his shop running again and back up to standards after several employees have left, which involves repairing and repainting cars, as well as a sales and rental service. This serves as the tutorial and half of the ‘demo’ portion you get with the free download before you have to use the in-app purchase to get the full version.
From her father’s shop Kate then moves on to establish her own business using an area from her uncle, who presents her with even more challenges and demands. Once you complete that area you move on and stake out an even larger and more demanding spot for your expanding business …and so on.
This is the general progression – you start a new area with a few necessary buildings, and then first need to build out the shop, then start accomplishing a number of goals. There is a timer and a green-yellow-red gauge that indicates how you are doing, with the goal of finishing everything during ‘Prime Time’. Doing so results in bonus money and an upgrade.
My first issue with the game was the realization that the ‘upgrades’ were purely cosmetic and had no impact on the game itself. You get lights, a fence, a nice yard, and so on. But that doesn’t impact your rental fees, your operating hours, how long between washing cars, and so on.
And as I replayed, it was these ‘and so on’ moments that kept nagging at me. I was reminded again and again why this was my least favorite game in the Fix-It-Up series, and my least favorite time management game in general.
This immediately makes the incentive to obtain these upgrades purely personal motivation, which in turn reduces the time-management compulsions of the game. In most time management games you can gain upgrades that help you focus on a certain area to gain profit or cover up a weakness. Games like the Stand O’Food and Supermarket Mania series do this to wonderful effect.
Another thing missing that features prominently in games like Stand O’Food is the ability to queue actions. If you are awaiting spare parts, you can’t put a car into the repair shop while they arrive, instead it has to sit on the lot and you have to watch the color indicators for each bay and manually micromanage the flow. It feels like false urgency rather than a challenge.
The final issue that still bothered me even when replaying was with the way goals are handed out. At the beginning of a mission you get a bunch of goals. As the game progresses you start getting new goals mid-stream while working on the others. Sometimes they just make the mission more challenging, but other times they completely alter how you need to approach the mission.
For example, if the primary goal is accumulating money, then you will focus on high-selling price cars. But if you suddenly need to have fully decked out a bunch of sedans, you will find yourself struggling to catch up. It is again a challenge that is more about changing how you do business rather than streamlining operational efficiency. This sort of ‘false challenge’ can be fun if it is rare since it throws you off balance, but when used regularly it takes the fun out of planning your way through a challenge.
I don’t want it to seem as if the entire experience is negative – Kate’s Adventure can be plenty of fun. It is not so difficult as to become stressful, and the actions and requirements are clear and straightforward enough that you won’t fail due to lack of goal clarity. It is just that all of these niggling things detracted from the game – and I actually found it more bothersome this time around because I knew how much better the subsequent games were and how they handled these issues.
In terms of the Mac port, everything came across very well – the graphics look great either windowed or full screen, the controls are very precise and easy to use, and the game loads quickly and never crashed on me once.
This is perhaps the most negative I have ever been in a review of a G5 game, as I have found them to generally be easily recommendable casual games in the hidden object and time management genres. However, whereas games like Stand O’Food represent the best of the time-management genre, Kate’s Adventure does not. Meaningless upgrades, useless rewards, punitive objective switching, and gameplay that feels more like ‘busy work’ than ‘time management’ all combine to result in a generic and forgettable overall experience that I would recommend passing over in place of some of the better genre games.
Here is the trailer for Fix It Up: Kate’s Adventure :
Review: Fix It Up: Kate’s Adventure
Where to Buy: Mac App Store
Price: $6.99 (free trial version available)
What I Like: Large amount of levels; solid and clear objectives; decent fun; not too challenging
What Needs Improvement: ‘Upgrades’ are purely cosmetic; no ability to queue actions; new objectives mid-mission can go counter to your actions and doom you to fail.
Source: Publisher provided review code