For those of us who love building and driving terrible cars, we’ve found the best car-enthusiast video game in the world. My Summer Car has been in development for some time and, as far as anybody can tell, it’s the work of a Finnish madman named Johannes Rojola who is hellbent on reliving the 1990s—down the Geocities appearance of the game’s website—and ownership of a decade-old Datsun Cherry at the time in rural Finland. The PC game is really less a “car game” than a bizarre lifestyle simulator wherein you become a shadetree greasemonkey determined to take the scattered pieces of your aforementioned Datsun and make it into a running car—down to details like tightening fasteners—over the course of an everlasting Nordic summer. If it’s a racing simulator you’re after, look elsewhere.
Generally speaking, that description makes it sounds like a Finnish car assembly game a la the old DOS game Street Rod, but there’s so much more to My Summer Car that has us, at least this dumb author, ready to plunk down money for it. Want a Datsun Cherry performance part? Since the game takes place in 1995, you-in-the-game must fill out and send a mail-in-parts-catalog order form then wait for it to arrive. And before you get too far ahead of yourself, you might have to take menial jobs to pay for those parts, to keep yourself fed, or to keep the ever-present beer crate full. While you wait for your parts to arrive—or when you get tired of digital wrenching—you can visit the pub, drink beer, split wood, hang out in the sauna, drink beer, take photos of your car on its roof in a ditch, drink beer, or just generally get into mischief.
Once you get your Datsun moving under its own power—or getting a tow from the tractor and parts-hauling van at your disposal—don’t screw up too badly because this game also features permadeath. As in: When you die in the game, there is no “extra life.” It’s a bizarre mashup of car culture and realism that is, as far as we can tell, totally unprecedented. And it certainly looks as close to a digital version of living the Roadkill life as you’re likely to get unless one of you digitizes Finnegan.
My Summer Car is not currently playable but has been submitted to Steam Greenlight, which is kind of like a crowdsourcing tool for the gaming service Steam. Steam users can vote through the Greenlight page for the game and if enough votes are received, Steam will host the game. You can visit My Summer Car’s Greenlight page here, which includes this trailer where Rojola lists game features like “You can lay down and do nothing” and “You can drive without coolant.” Done and done.
You can also watch Rojola demonstrate some of the game’s features a year or so ago while he was still developing the game. His accent and delivery let you know just how entertaining this game will be be in spite of (and possibly because of) its insane attention to detail. The video is long, but if it doesn’t sell you on the game, nothing will.