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Genre: Arcade
Min OS X: 10.4

Fix-it-up: Kate's Adventure
June 2, 2009 | Charlie Fletcher

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Slam, bam, thank you ma'am, that's the bottom line when it comes to Fix-it-Up: Kate's Adventure, a new game for the Mac from World Loom. It's a nice, new entrant in the ever popular time management genre, but it's way too short.

It's been quite a while since I've reviewed a multi-tasking game. In fact, the last one I looked at was Babysitting Mania, which I panned because it encouraged you to abuse the poor baby to win.

I thought Fix-it-Up was much more fun than BM, and dare I say it more realistic.

Now please believe me when I say that Fix-it-Up's realism has to be taken with a grain of salt. I have some very fond memories of working on cars when I was a teen -- like the time I almost brought down my parents' garage with a chain hoist when I was putting a new engine in my 1958 MGA. When the rafters start creaking, and the roof starts to sag, now that's realism!

Still, even if you don't get your hands dirty fixing up cars in this game, it's still fun. The only problem is, there's just not enough of it.

To get the most down-to-earth view of Fix-it-Up, I brought in my 12-year-old daughter, who goes by the handle Roxanne, when she plays. Roxanne plays endless numbers of multi-taskers. In fact, she played through Fix-it-Up in five hours.

Roxanne liked Fix-it-Up, but she definitely had reservations about it. "The gameplay was fun, but I thought it was kind of a rip-off," she said. "I didnt like the way they ended with Kate saying to the two boyfriend wannabes, Its not your decision who I choose. And then it just ended completely, ran the credits, and said, To be continued.

Although World Loom's description of the game says there are 47 levels, some of those are not included in the storyline portion of the game. Instead they're challenge levels you can play after you have played through them during the story play. For Roxanne, this was a big downer. She says that most of the multi-taskers she's played have way more levels included in the regular play.

So how does Fix-it-Up work, anyway? You start out with a couple of goals, like build three fully upgraded sedans. Then you have to order spare parts. Then you have to collect rent for having cars parked on your lot, Roxanne says. But prepare for midstream changes. It starts out easy in the beginning of a level. Then it gets hard in the middle. First you have one or two goals, then all of a sudden, you have more goals."

The basic idea in Fix-it-Up is fixing cars, of course. You begin the game going to visit your dad. When you arrive at his place way out in the sticks of Oregon, he really needs your help to get his car repair/used car lot/car rental operation back on its feet. Since you/Kate are the renowned manager extraordinaire, you agree to give him a hand with the business, getting the employees fixing cars, doing body work, washing vehicles, buying and selling cars and trucks and ordering parts. It's quite a job, and you stay very busy directing the work. Buying cars requires quick thinking, Roxanne says, "Basically you see a car pull up on the street, click on it. If you have enough money to buy it, you click yes. But sometimes, its a horrible deal where the person wants too much money for the car. Other times they are willing to sell their cars for a really good price. After you buy it, you fix the car. Then you do bodywork. Later on in the game, you get to put in racing engines. Finally, when you are done with bodywork and tune-up, then you wash and wax the car. After that, you earn rent on the cars for the whole time they sit in your parking lot.

Later on, you get to make more money. As the story progresses, you move to new locations. Soon you're taking on trucks and even sports cars. "Sports cars are worth about $120,000. When they are upgraded, they are worth about $200,000, Roxanne says.

Graphically, Fix-it-Up was a mixed bag. Roxanne liked the details in the cars. "You can see whether they had spoilers or bodywork, or whatever," she said. "But some of the people were really ugly."

I liked the soundtrack. The music was pretty good, and it didn't wear me down while I played the way some games do. I also liked the ambient sounds that were going on, the wildlife and other little details. Roxanne didn't really notice those things. I noticed the sounds of cars driving by and cars starting up and metal clanking, she says.

Sadly, Roxanne didn't see much value in the game once she'd gone through it once. Challenge Mode didn't hold much attraction for her. Its not really a replay game," she says. "Its kind of a wait for the sequel game."

• Enjoyable gameplay
• Nice soundtrack

• Game was too short
• Artwork was well done but ugly

Fix-it-up: Kate's Adventure
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