Manic Mechanics

  • Online Co-Op: 4 Players
  • Couch Co-Op: 4 Players
  • LAN Co-Op: 4 Players
  • + Co-Op Campaign
  • + Combo Co-Op
Manic Mechanics Co-op Review
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Manic Mechanics Co-op Review

Frantically fix cars with friends in this Overcooked-style party game.

Back in 2016, Overcooked! emerged as a cooperative multiplayer-focused game in which players work together to create and serve food. Since then, several developers have adapted the Overcooked! formula to different professions. Manic Mechanics from 4J Studios (developer of Minecraft: Console Edition) is one such game that ditches the cooking schtick in favor of a car mechanic theme. After a period of Switch exclusivity, Manic Mechanics has recently set up shop on current gen consoles and Steam, allowing everybody to have a shot at some fast-paced car fixin’.

Manic Mechanics takes place on a fictional island that is dedicated to automotive repair. Up to four local and/or online players can drop in and out to explore the island, each selecting their own characters. 16 characters are available at the start, with additional characters unlocked by completing tasks on the map and by defeating bosses.

Manic Mechanics map Xbox

Navigating the map is part of the fun in this game. Everyone gets to drive their own cutesy car that can dash (useful for jumping over ramps) and honk its horn. The camera follows the primary player on the map in local multiplayer games, limiting the exploration potential for additional players, but at least those players aren’t stuck watching Player 1 do all the driving. Online players can explore the map independently of each other.

In each level, a series of cars in need of parts will be deposited for players to repair. Some levels deposit multiple cars simultaneously, forcing players to prioritize which car to repair first. One or more conveyor belts will deliver a continuous mixture of parts. Before these parts can be installed, however, they usually need to be prepared at a station. Tires have to be inflated, doors and fenders have to be painted, engines must be repaired, and so on. In later levels, haunted items even have to be exorcised, producing an orb full of ectoplasm.

Manic Mechanics Xbox co-op

Parts stations really differentiate the gameplay from Overcooked. Sure, in that game, food items had to be prepared before assembly. Here, however, each station has its own minigame. These can involve holding a button until a meter fills up, rapidly pressing a button, moving the analog stick in certain ways, and more. For accessibility’s sake, the minigames can be turned off, allowing young children and less skilled gamers to play. The minigames really add to the fun and frantic pace of the game, though, so most players will want to keep them on.

The conveyor belt occasionally brings glowing “premium” parts that can be directly installed without the use of a part station. Premium parts are a big help, so gamers will likely scramble to grab them. The more cars that the team can repair before a level’s time runs out, the higher the star rating that will be awarded at the end of the level. The game should more clearly display the score targets for the star ratings, but that’s a minor complaint.

Manic Mechanics Xbox Series X co-op

Manic Mechanics does a great job of introducing new gameplay mechanics at a steady pace. The game’s 40 levels are spread across six regions belonging to unique mentor characters. Every mentor’s level set will roll out a new station or two, additional mechanics like charging batteries for electric vehicles, and various hazards like paint spills, electrified floors, and even ghosts. Before a level starts, players can check what that level’s stations do, reducing confusion.

The story here comes to life through dialog sequences featuring the mentor characters. Manic Mechanics lacks Overcooked’s exciting, world-ending story, but the character dialog here isn’t terrible. The art style is more of a problem. Characters in games like this are supposed to be cute, but the humans here are all hideous monstrosities. However talented he might otherwise be, the game’s art director is the wrong guy to design cutesy characters. Things look fine during actual gameplay; it’s just during dialog and character selection that players must suffer the characters’ frightful visages.

Manic Mechanics

As with other games of this type, Manic Mechanics can be played in single player but is designed for cooperative play. Playing solo is more stressful since you’re responsible for everything, though I still enjoy it. Co-op (both local and online) is clearly the game’s focus. Bringing friends in lets you divide tasks up and strategize with each other; it really amplifies the fun. Some levels even have co-op mechanics like when someone gets slimed by a ghost, another player can rescue them. To show just how much 4J Studios cares, all local players on Xbox can earn Achievements. Letting co-op partners earn Achievements is such a rarity nowadays, so it’s very welcome here. Oh, and there’s also a versus mode.

Less happily, Manic Mechanics’ online multiplayer lacks matchmaking. In the online menu, players can choose to host or join. The join option just shows a list of any open games that friends are hosting – NOT random players.  If you don’t have online friends to play with, you won’t get to play online at all. The developers’ thinking was probably that parents might not want their children playing with strangers, but that’s a matter for parents to decide. Certainly, matchmaking is a standard feature that gamers would expect to be present when buying a game that features online multiplayer.

Manic Mechanics Online menu Xbox

Matchmaking letdowns aside, the online experience has some strengths to it. Online mode is drop in, drop out once a host player’s game is open. The host can play the campaign on their own, and then friends can join in at their leisure. What’s more, Manic Mechanics supports combo co-op, meaning that multiple local players on a single device can participate in online games. That’s a great feature – if only 4J Studios hadn’t forgotten to implement matchmaking!

While there are a fair number of Overcooked-style games to choose from, Manic Mechanics does a fine job of standing out from the crowd. It takes great advantage of the car theme, creating fun and frantic scenarios inside of levels and even making driving around the map joyful. The story, character design, and lack of online matchmaking are all weaknesses compared to Overcooked, but the actual gameplay is strong enough to justify Manic Mechanics’ existence. If you’ve got friends or family to play with, don’t miss out on these mechanics.

Manic Mechanics Xbox Series X co-op

Manic Mechanics sells for $24.99 on XboxPlayStationSwitch, and Steam. The Steam version is fully Steam Deck compatible. In our experience, the lengthy loading times of the Switch version have been reduced to short, quick loads on Xbox Series X and Steam.

Xbox and Switch download codes were provided by the publisher for this review.


Co-Op Score

The Co-Op Experience: Couch co-op chaos for you and up to three other players, working as a finely-tuned machine across local, wireless and online play. Track your team's best scores, unlock new characters, and discover hidden secrets as you explore Octane Isle together. Online play is friends-only and does not support matchmaking.

Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.