Ever since Nintendo defined the karts and powerups battle racing format on the SNES, the trend has been for subsequent sequels and imitators to become bigger, slower and easier. MySims Racing is one of the biggest, slowest and easiest so far, but it’s on a console that already boasts a ponderous, fluffy leviathan of the genre in Mario Kart Wii. While MySims Racing has a few good ideas, it’s all too predictable, and it lacks punch in the most important area of all – on the track.
The handling is woolly, featuring a powerslide that seems to slow the kart down rather than help you fling it round a corner. There are various control options, including wheel, Nunchuk and GameCube pad, but nothing ever makes the vehicles bite into the road like karts used to do. Not that you need such tight handling when the courses are wide and the speed is low. The game engine can certainly handle a quicker pace, as it’s fairly fast when you’re burning some turbo power. Unfortunately that doesn’t last long before you’re returned to cruising speed, collecting crystals for another brief injection of power.
The powerups are an insipid bunch, with far too many useless ones such as trees that sprout in the middle of the track, and annoying ones like the anti-powerup that flips the screen upside down. It’s sometimes hard to tell exactly what hit you during a race. The developers seem to have missed Mario Kart’s simple trick, where the shell that’s about to splatter you buzzes behind your kart for a moment. In MySims Racing, the first warning you get that something has been fired at you is usually when your kart is spinning out, spewing smoke, and all the other racers trundle past you.
On the positive side, the story mode’s humorous collection of townsfolk and challenges is a much more interesting alternative to another sterile cup competition. It has an actual plot, of sorts, involving odd jobs and arrogant rivals, and there’s something inherently charming about the whole MySims world. You can design your own character, build a custom vehicle from an array of performance-enhancing parts, and store your creations on the remote to take to a friend’s house. Sadly, there’s no online mode. With Mario Kart Wii still selling, MySims Racing might have a hard time grabbing anyone’s attention. It may be the second-best kart game on the system, but who really wants to settle for that?
Jun 15, 2009