My Summer Car is an interesting game by Amistech Games about assembling a project car in your garage set to a Finnish backdrop. It’s not about expensive high performance cars, but just getting your beater to run. You start off with just about the entire car in pieces, without an instruction manual. When I say pieces, I mean you’ll need to assemble each part of the engine, transmission and body then tighten all the bolts with your scroll wheel. A nightmare to some, a challenge to others.
The approach is really interesting going into so much detail with the number of pieces that make it fun, but not having the true number of an actual car, which I suspect would be too complicated for most. It’s not all building though, as you’ve got to keep an eye on your stats like a survival game.
You are given one working vehicle from the beginning. It’s critically important for traveling to town for supplies for you and your car, or just to explore without having to build your own from scratch. If you do fully assemble the car, it’s a very rewarding experience, that’s very likely to last only a few miles before braking down or crashing.
Exploring the map you can find all sorts of interesting things to do. There’s several jobs that earn you money, which you’ll need for various upgrades and repairs. Attached to the store is a bar that opens at night and serves food and drinks while you gamble on a slot machine in one corner. The airfield can be used as a drag strip where you can try to beat your best time. If you try the same on the highway, you may be chased by the local police. If you don’t speak Finish, the subtitles will help you along. I recommend outrunning them and turning onto a back road to avoid the whole thing.
Taking care of your bodily needs can be difficult until you figure out all of the mechanics such as how the sauna works, and being sure to keep plenty of beer and sausages on hand. There is bug spray that’s supposed to get rid of an annoying fly or mosquito sound,but it never seems to do much good. If you miss your nap eventually you’ll pass out, the same if you drink too much. Top Tip:Yes, you can reduce thirst and lower your bladder simultaneously if you hit the urinate key while facing straight up.
Not being sure which size spanner to use is a real dilemma that you face in real life wrenching, but unfortunately the visual size of the bolt doesn’t always correspond to the size you need. There’s only one size to worry about when it comes to the screwdriver though. You have to utilize jacks and an engine hoist throughout the course of the build which is a great touch, instead of just letting players throw the engine into the car after it’s built.
There is another major part of the game I’ve yet to go over, actually driving the car. It simulates everything from the timing of gear shifts, clutch use, and bad handling. I assume that a lot of the more difficult car controls would be negated with a good steering wheel and pedal kit. The keyboard steering leaves a lot to be desired, making you feel like a flying Finn whenever you put the hammer down through the forests and live. Death is a very constant threat as the slightest bump will throw you off the road and likely into a tree or inescapable ditch. There is the option to walk home and come back to tow your car, but reloading your game is much faster and hassle free. Assuming you’ve performed all of your repairs correctly, you can go into town to face inspection. If you have everything perfect, you’ll be granted a license plate for your summer car that gives you access to the rallycross. It’s a time attack mode, but if you don’t have a wheel, good luck just surviving the sprint.
An alternative method of playing the game is to make a ton of money and then take your car to the shop. You can have all the repairs done, get a fresh paint job, and the owner is even nice enough to let you borrow his muscle car. Good luck keeping it on the road over 20mph though. For the even less minutia loving gamer, save file edits are available. You can simply set all parts to attached and fluids at full. I did this after the main build so I don’t have to start over each time I crash, but you could certainly use it from the beginning. It’s also helpful to diagnose what may be misplaced or damaged rather than guesswork.
Despite the buggy physics and car control of My Summer Car, there’s a lot to love. At the moment it’s the only game that gets car building right. I would love to see the same game with more cars to assemble, better controls and more all around polish. It took me back to the old days in my parent’s garage with my car’s engine in a million pieces. There may be some screw ups along the way, but in the end you’ll have a running car that’s your own, hopefully.