From a technical standpoint (graphics, etc.), Gearhead Garage may not be at the top of it's game. However, if you pass up this title based on that aspect, you will be losing out on a fun time.
Gearhead Garage is a car enthusiasts dream. You take on the persona of a start-up mechanic, and from there you must try to make your way to the top. Buying cars, repairing them, and selling them are just some of the things that you do in Gearhead Garage.
The first thing that you have to do when you start the game is give your mechanic a name. From there, you open your own shop, with very little money. At the beginner's level (which is what everyone starts out at), people come into your shop with easy jobs. They may need a windshield fixed, or the carburetor repaired. What you have to do when they bring in the car is decide whether you want to (A) fix up their parts, (B) get some from the junkyard or (C) buy them from a catalogue. To help you make your choice, Mekada tells you what the cost is for each thing that you may want to do. For example, if it costs $10 to fix up the person's gearshift and it costs $2 to buy one that will have to be repaired from the junkyard, you are probably better off getting the one from the junkyard, because you will also get to keep the person's gearshift to repair for use at a later date.
The amount of different things that you can do is cool. Going to the auction is a fun thing to do. You can bid on cars there that you may decide to fix up yourself, or scrap the pieces for cash from the junkyard. If you fix it up, you can decide to give it a new paint job, or put on some decals. After fixing it up, you can auction it off once again, or you can put it in your lot and hope to sell it. The game is really rather realistic in that sense. It gives you the feeling that you actually know what you are doing and are in control of it.
One thing that I didn't like was that you are led around a little too much, at least in the beginning. It is not that hard to do what your customers ask of you. I guess that is what it is like for a real mechanic, but I'm not sure. As you become more aware of what you are doing, the difficulty also increases. The jobs get harder, and the parts get more expensive. Furthermore, you cannot give back the car that you are working on unless you have done exactly what the customer has asked. This can sometimes be troublesome, because the game does not always tell you what exactly is wrong with what you have done.
Another thing that would have been cool but is not a big deal would have been if the cars in Gearhead Garage were real. If Mekada had gotten some licenses, this would have been the ultimate simulation.
Other than a few small problems, Gearhead Garage is a lot of fun. You do not have to be really interested in cars to try this game out, although it does help.
Graphics: Although lacking in terms of the beautiful graphics that can be seen is some racing games, the full 3D accessiblity of the cars and the lots helps make this game visually attractive.
Sound: The music is entertaining enough, and the sound effects when you remove parts and put them on are realistic.
Enjoyment: This game is surprisingly a lot of fun. The different things that you can do paired with the well-thought out options makes the game a lot of fun.
Replay Value: There is a lot of things to do here. Once you finish the tutorial mode you move to the free play mode in which you can do whatever you want (sell, buy, repair).
One of the most obscure car-related games ever made, Gearhead Garage is an interesting 'game' that is actually less interesting than it sounds. Like the semi-popular toy line it was based on, the goal in Gearhead Garage is to fix up cars brought to you by various customers in return for money. In the later stages of the game, you can spend the money you earn on auctioning broken cars, fix them, and then selling them on for profit.
For each car, there are three areas that you have to fix: the body, the engine, and the gear. You often have to visit the junkyard or car catalogue to buy new parts, but you can also sell parts you don't need to the junkyard. The game's decend 3D models lets you view the car from every angle, although it is sometimes difficult to fit the parts exactly.
Overall, I find Gearhead Garage quite interesting at first, but the lack of variety in cars and limited gameplay make it boring and repetitive after the first few missions. If you are a car fanatic who loves tinkering with cars such as Bronco and Escort, you might find Gearhead Garage fun enough to play all the way to the end. The rest of us would do well to stick to the simple-yet-fun Car Builder instead.
People who downloaded Gearhead Garage have also downloaded:
Car Builder, Motor City, Street Rod 2, Detroit, Hot Rod: Garage to Glory, Street Rod, Free Enterpri$e (a.k.a. Free Enterprise), Airline Simulator 97
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