Manic Mechanics review

[Edit: Review by Lauren Relph] Set on the cartoony Octane Isle, this couch co-op game is a race against time where you make fenders funky, re-energise engines and rebuild cars to transform them from battered jalopies into the machines of dreams. Don’t panic if you prefer to work alone, as this is possible too, though admittedly more difficult.

Similar in style to Overcooked, you navigate your mighty mechanic around the yards, overseeing the production lines, grabbing rusty parts from the conveyor, reviving them at the relevant stations, and reassembling them into vehicles for points. Each level provides its own unique challenges, constantly shaking things up. It might involve adding or removing parts to your growing repair repertoire, altering the layout of the repair stations, or slapping you into a complicated workshop filled with perilous traps that will devour precious time.

Manic Mechanics Switch screenshot

Things start off easy and relaxed. Each of the five themed neighbourhoods on the overland map features five levels to help you get acquainted with new tools and requests. These culminate in a challenging “boss stage” where you’ll put everything you’ve learned in the new area to the test while the Master Mechanic tries their best from preventing you from showing them up. From electrifying the floors to swapping your vehicles mid-fix, you must find ways to thwart their disruptions and stay alert for golden parts that yield maximum points.

You can boost your earnings by using shining ‘premium items’ from the conveyor belt. These parts don’t require any prior fixing or assembly before being fitted and are worth more overall. You can also dash and throw parts to the fixing stations to save time, but it may result in oil spills, creating a slipping hazard. Each station has a specific usage mechanic, whether it’s smashing X to pump tires, holding X to hammer, or using the stick to hit the right direction. This makes things delightfully more complex as you begin to slowly get more overwhelmed. This feature can also be turned off if you’re co-oping with kids or less dexterous people to make things a bit simpler.

Manic Mechanics Switch screenshot

Neighbourhoods are fun to explore as you uncover secrets that reward you with inclusive character options. The music is fun and lively, and varies with the area, featuring more banjos in the country and wailing guitars in the city. The theme itself becomes an earworm, and I caught myself humming it long after playing.

As you advance, the difficulty ramps up. You’ll have to fix multiple cars at the same time on an assembly line, unable to start a new fix until everything on the stands is completed. Some fixes require multiple steps, such as charging batteries for electric engines or dealing with microchips. To add to the chaos, the floors rotate or have large gaps in them which you will fall or drop parts into. There’s even a chance you might catch fire, or batteries could explode. On top of that, you must dodge your own oil spills, accidentally get in your partner’s way, or fix the wrong part because you’re looking at the wrong car. Despite all your best intentions, you can formulate a strategy that immediately goes out of the window as soon as one of you spots a golden item on the conveyor (just in case you might need it!) It’s all incredibly frustrating in an exciting way while you’re in the mechanic panic.

Manic Mechanics Switch screenshot

The only real downside I encountered was the length load times on the Switch. When playing with others in co-op, they frequently commented on how long the loading times were. Personally, as a predominantly Xbox user, I’ve grown used to minimal load times, so it was a bit of an adjustment to make. I had to remind myself that the load times are more reminiscent of the previous generation of games. Even though the levels themselves last about three and a half minutes, the load times on either side can rack up to a similar duration, almost balancing the playtime with waiting for things to load.

Manic Mechanics doesn’t reinvent the wheel; instead, it explodes it. It’s a fun and refreshing couch co-op experience with people that breaks away from the food-focused themes we often see.

4J Studios’ Manic Mechanics is out now on the Switch eShop.