Mechanic Battle: My Drive Shaft Is Bigger Than Yours

Your mind's eye might be giving the impression of a fight to the death with spanners, but Mechanic Battle is a top-down racer where you get to fine-tune your wheels for skidmark glory.

Supercars 2 was one of my favourite games on the Amiga 500 ‘back in the day’, so to relive that say that style of gameplay in Mechanic Battle minus the combat has been an absolute joy.

The pitch for Cat-astrophe Games’ title is a mix of Micro Machines and Car Mechanic Simulator, but since binging it, it’s more of the Amiga classic, in my eyes at least. That’s from a pedestal perspective, as I prefer Supercars 2 over Micro Machines. Scandal!

First and foremost, Mechanic Battle isn’t remotely wacky. Sure, it’s of a similar viewpoint to Micro Machines and handles the same way (actually, way better), but there are no lavish tracks or obstacles to overcome other than adjusting your speed accordingly and judging when the track has ascended, as it’ll eff up your suspension and handling.

Mechanic Battle Switch Review - Chase cam
Chase cam. Source: Screen capture

The premise is simple: buy one of three cars, do it up, then race in three different types of challenges, upgrade your car to the point of being overpowered, and then enter the championship to unlock the next league. A friendly face will poke their head around the odd corner to give you pointers, but it’s all very intuitive.

Cars aren’t licensed in Mechanic Battle, but you don’t need it as it’s obvious what cars they’re modelled on, and they look very good at that. There are some key categories in the mechanic side of things, so I’ll summarise them in two paragraphs. Getting the customisation out of the way, you can pick a paint colour, add decals to the hood, side or roof, swap out the wheels and add a spoiler. With the latter choices, you unlock a mini-game that grants a bonus to how much money you earn and brake performance.

Engine upgrades, ECU, tyres, nitrous, suspension, and brakes are included in Mechanic Battle. Each has a tier system on performance, such as street, sport and race level. After that, it’s tuning. This is an arcade-like approach to adjustments such as brake balance, downforce, gear ratios and what-not. Keeping an eye on the stats will help as you tweak them, but again, the settings are intuitive – insinuation that adjusting the downforce will sway more to handling or top speed. You know your preferred style.

The settings in Mechanic Battle make it worthwhile. Sure, there are no licensed vehicles, and the decal options are on the minimalist side of things, but the gameplay outweighs all of that. There’s one top-down perspective in Mechanic Battle (making it vital to look at your map/get familiar with a track as you’ll front-end it immediately). I only used the nitro once as I didn’t need it. It’s easy to level up and dominate a race, and even if you don’t level up, the adjustments help, such as lowering your car, coming off the gas and then throwing the car around the corner.

Crash damage doesn’t show, but it’s not needed. However, be aware of some sadistic sign placement. You’ll fly around a corner way too fast and then get wedged between two signs, losing last minute – something I perfected on the final lap when starting out. Seriously though, the handling, speed and sheer enjoyment of reliving a modern-day Supercars 2 (without the combat) has made Mechanic Battle a binge-worthy game.

However, note that Mechanic Battle is on the easy side, as mentioned, and it’s easy to overpower your competitors. It’s solo play only, and there aren’t any difficulty options. The race modes are standard races, eliminations where one car is removed after each lap, and then a hot lap/time trial. You have to complete a set amount before entering the championship, and with that mode, you have to finish all the races to progress.

The sound effects are fine, but the music was understated and lacked excitement. Coupled with the lack of challenge, these were my only issues with the game. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed playing it, and perhaps it’s overly optimistic, but I hope that Cat-astrophe Games consider releasing DLC further down the line, such as more cars, tracks – perhaps split-screen multiplayer, as this has a lot of potential for replayability. I loved it. It makes my top list of racing games on the Switch.