There are many games which make it pretty clear from day one that they’ll eventually add content, and most likely release upgraded bundles and the like. The “Ultimate Edition” claim can vary wildly, but often indicates that it’s the final version of a game. I must admit, I wasn’t expecting Tools Up! to get this treatment.
We have reviewed the base game of Tools Up! here at TheXboxHub, and yours truly put some thoughts out there with regards to the DLC, Tools Up! Garden Party. So I was quite surprised to discover that this “Ultimate Edition” is basically just these two releases packaged up, and the only new addition is a PvP mode.
Odd then, considering Tools Up! Ultimate Edition will cost you around £30. Although I can’t see that price holding for long. Especially as the bundle which includes the base game and complete DLC is already £6 cheaper on the Xbox store. I have no idea what’s going on with the pricing strategy here.
Anyway, if you haven’t played before, Tools Up! is a game that falls into the Overcooked! bucket, but it is far less stressful. Your task is to renovate properties and tidy up gardens, fulfilling the wishes of your clients who have some questionable design preferences, it must be said. This is done against the clock, but you can play without the time limit if you prefer.
Things start off straight forward enough, with a top down view of the job at hand. There’s a blueprint that once picked up, will reveal exactly what work your client wants doing. Oddly though, you can only rotate the camera when you are holding it, which for me made it totally redundant because of how much time doing so ate up, so I persisted with the fixed angle instead. Your most useful tool is your trusty bucket, which is used to collect rubbish, as well as waste from stripping walls and flooring clean ready for a makeover.
Painting and laying carpet is pretty simple, that being pressing “X” once to grab what you need, and again to apply it to the blank wall or square of flooring. Your bucket is also used for more complicated processes that require more steps, such as pasting walls ready to hang (often loud) wallpaper. These are introduced bit by bit as you progress through the levels.
The knack is taking time to study the task at hand, and decide the most efficient order to tackle your job list. However you won’t always have what you need from the start, with key items getting delivered sporadically during the level. In the more complicated scenarios your space gets a little crowded, meaning you are often knocking stuff over and making a mess. This is where things can get frustrating.
Doing so can really slow you down, meaning you’ll need to fill that rubbish bucket back up. When you do so, you’ll have to carry it to the outside bin before you can make further use of it. Rubbish on the floor is slippery, and I fell foul of it several times in a row, seemingly unable to get up as I performed an unwanted falling over combo.
Another frustration, exacerbated by having stuff everywhere, was being able to select what I wanted with accuracy. There is no second option (like scrolling through items with the D-Pad) so precise flicks of the thumbstick were often needed to prevent me giving up and smashing everything out the way to get what I needed. Too many times I ended up ripping a door off its hinges (I don’t even know why that’s possible) when trying to clean up some rubbish.
This issue also crops up when simply trying to put things down and pick things up. Your character will shake its head despite there being plenty of space, which again will take up valuable time. In the later levels the time constraints are a little more challenging if you are aiming for max points, so the unresponsive controls can prove costly.
The Garden Party DLC brings the strategic makeover action outdoors, requiring you to sow seeds, cut grass, water plants and more. The core gameplay mechanics remain, but the DLC is different enough aesthetically to remain enjoyable, and prevent from feeling too repetitive at the beginning. However, it won’t take too long for you to recognise that core Tools Up! DNA, albeit with a different skin.
Completing each job means points, and these convert to a star rating. You’ll bag that third star for cleaning up after yourself by getting everything out of the property before your time runs out. I did come across an odd glitch a couple of times where despite me clearing everything, the game thought one item remained. No matter what I did, I couldn’t complete the level with max points. Annoying.
Anyway, stars also unlock different characters for you to play as. So at the selection screen, you can choose from a whole manner of people and animals, as well as changing their appearance. This means players can distinguish themselves more clearly from each other when it comes to multiplayer. Tools Up! Ultimate Edition supports four way co-op play locally, which gets a bit busy at times but is decent fun nonetheless. However, given we have the “Ultimate Edition” here, it seems like a missed opportunity not to work on an online option.
Completing the campaign will unlock the “Time Attack” mode, which speaks for itself really. Here you will gain time for those tasks completed, and if you mess up I’m sure you can guess what that means. Still, the new addition is the competitive home makeover mode. This is where players go up against each other to tick off their jobs list, and indulge in a little sabotage of the other team along the way (usually by picking them up and chucking them in the other direction).
There remains just the one list between players, and you’ll pick up a steady stream of points as you get to work, whether that’s cleaning or decorating. You can also lose points for making a mess and sadly, for lobbing players out the way. Instead, just holding them back will prevent you from picking up any penalties but also stop you earning points. Let’s be clear, this mode is not a game changer, but it’s actually quite fun as a change of pace. There’s a generous list of levels to play on too.
Even when going back to the world of Tools Up!, I still have a soft spot for the bright and colourful visuals. It works, both for the target audience and to avoid confusion when it comes to the gameplay. The chirpy music also errs just about on the right side of irritating, because it plays out on a pretty short loop let me tell you.
Tools Up! Ultimate Edition is the best place for first time players, there’s no doubt about it. Although it’s not too complex and suitable for all ages, it’s still good fun to play for a while, at least before its repetitive nature starts to creep in. How far you go with it depends on how much you enjoy such games, because with 75 levels there’s enough to keep you busy for a good while.
Tools Up! Ultimate Edition may not quite live up to the name, but there’s a solid DIY sim game here that can be considered a good entry point for the genre.