Guest author Alex Orona is a contributor to the Super GG Radio Podcast, which you can find here.
The simulator genre has arisen from the depths of obscurity and revealed itself to be a hobbyist dream. With this boost in popularity comes another entry into the genre with Tank Mechanic Simulator: a game about accepting contracts to unearth, clean, and repair tanks for fun, historical purposes and of course, profit. The depth is in the attention to details, with each task carefully laid out in steps to ensure accuracy and realism. There is a lot to dig into here.
Tank Mechanic Simulator starts similar to other games in PlayWay Publishing’s catalog. You are given a computer with an email ticket system that allows you to take different orders, order parts, and access a museum for future use. You are also given tools with upgrade trees to improve your interface, as well as how you perform the tasks at hand. This garage is where you spend a majority of your time with all the tools at your fingertips. You can also explore the museum where you will display your tanks, ride out into the obstacle course, and see specific sites to excavate varying World War II tanks.
The real meat Tank Mechanic Simulator is renovation–using your tools to repair parts of the tank, sandblast rust, repaint and disassemble the tank down to the bolts. The detail and catalog of tanks is impressive, making me think this very well could be used as a training program for those going into such a career field–like using a flight simulator to become a pilot. The accuracy makes this a real possibility including part names and functions to educate as well as entertain. The process generally has to do with grinding away rust, sandblasting, repairing parts, painting primer and applying full coats of paint while investigating part integrity before purchasing and replacing said parts. It’s easy, once figured out, to put on some music, zone out and get absorbed in working on a project. Much like one would expect when building a model plane, the satisfaction comes with achieving small manageable goals with hard work, time and persistence.
While it’s easy to get lost in the busy work, there is a high barrier to entry with a game like this. This style has a specific focus for the hobbyist at heart and less so for new beginners. Tank Mechanic Simulator has little to no onboarding for newbies into the series with a barebones interface that can seem clunky. Menus upon menus give confusing points of interest on a tank as well as indicating what the overall goal per contract is. It’s easy to choose the dismantle menu over the repair menu, or even miss discovering the menus exist. They are buried within a radial menu that can lead to in depth analysis of each tank and their parts, but give even less description of where that part is. This results in a lot of time lost to searching piece by piece of the tank trying to find the last spot of rust or where to repair.
Along with the confusing menus, it can be hard to discover which contacts you are on, or what the goal is. Once a contract is accepted via email, it’s up to the player to move to a separate menu to find the goal of the contract, described vaguely and without direction. Following that, I had to navigate to the tank analysis screen to see a list of every part listed on the tank itself, with its repaired state displayed with a percentage bar. This leaves a lot to be desired for new players and can come off as overwhelming. These menus are displayed with explanations, but only upon discovery, leaving me to resort to online guides to find the information I needed to progress.
While the UI is confusing, some parts of it could use enhancements to improve it. When unearthing a tank, I was tasked with finding the tank using a metal detector. This, when equipped, should lead to the tank based on its beeping indicator–but this isn’t always the most accurate. Being patient is key when walking over the same plot of land repeatedly until the metal detector finally gives the proper signal of the tank’s location. It’s an imperfect system where the realistic nature doesn’t lead to a more fun experience. It also has its fair share of technical glitches, with tools spawning in and out of environments and getting occasionally stuck within the tank itself, but there are features in the menu to reset yourself or any tools but undo for any disassembly you make so ensure you are comfortable with the separate assembly menu before you begin.
Graphically, it looks well rendered, with each tank popping with color, and shine. The environments can be bland but they are obviously not the focus. The tanks are in full display and the tank museum shows this off with the ability to pick signs and with promotional action images with facts and history of each tank. Fans of military antiquity will enjoy playing museum curator here. For those that want to experience the fruits of their labor, there’s also an obstacle course to pilot each tank and take it to the shooting range for target practice.
Tank Mechanic Simulator is another successful addition into the hobbyist sim genre, giving you a full breadth of features, accuracy and detail that will give any history buff hours of enjoyment. The game does lack onboarding for new players, with the UI and menu systems that seem archaic and cumbersome to manage unless familiar with previous entries into the series. The tutorials could do more to walk players through performing each task but instead opt to leave them at the door inviting those in the know all access. If you are looking to build model tanks virtually, this will find a home on your Nintendo Switch, but if you are a new player, I recommend you bring a guide.
Tank Mechanic Simulator is available on Nintendo Switch now.
If you like the video game, tabletop, or other technology content that Third Coast Review has to offer, consider donating to our Patreon. We are the only publication in Chicago that regularly reviews video games, and we cover lots of local Chicago-based events and more. If you want to contribute to our coverage of Chicago’s video game scene (and more) please consider becoming a patron. Your support enables us to continue to provide this type of content and more. Patreon.com/3CR
You can also catch us streaming games we’re reviewing and staff favorites at twitch.tv/bokor