Not enough oomph to stomp Mario off his kart throne

User Rating: 7 | MySims Racing DS
When I saw the teaser video of this game a few months ago, I thought it could be a good candidate for an okay (at best) kart racer. Given how disappointed I was with many of the Sims games released on the DS, I really wasn't expecting this game to be as good or even near as good as Mario Kart.

The game starts pretty much like any other DS Sims game does. You create a character and is given numerous options like gender, hairstyle, skin tone, color and design of clothes, etc. But of course since this is a racing game, you will also be given a few car designs to choose from which will grow as you play through the game.

After fiddling with your character's looks, you will be then thrown on the main menu with three options: Story Mode, Quick Play, and Multiplayer. I will be discussing the story mode here since quick play is pretty much with any other games out there, you play through the already unlocked maps and race on them. While multiplayer mode is something that I have yet to test.

In story mode, you will be given a short story of Speed Ville that is really not interesting and only reminded me of the movie "Cars". There's a car shop where you can upgrade your vehicle for better performance and/or pimp its looks. As well as your own home where you can change your clothes and looks. Most of your time is going to be spent racing and doing your neighbor favors.

Let's start with the favors first. With this game, you will find yourself driving around town and doing stuff like picking up items, or driving a neighbor to a location of his/her choice. It is a nice welcome for a driving game but it gets old really ... really quickly. And although it gets tiring, it's the only way for you to earn enough essence coins to upgrade your car. Some of them will even give you a blueprint for unique parts. Most of the blueprints that they give away like bee wings or a pair of dumbells to replace your wheels are ... well, something that only kids might enjoy attaching to their kart.

Racing on the other hand will enable you to ... well, race and unlock new once if you keep finishing in 1st place. You will also be rewarded with blueprints for new parts/upgrades and essence coins.

Gameplay is on some level comparable with Mario Kart. You have a couple of items to throw at your opponents like a bubble that will trap and hold them for a few seconds. A seed that will magically grow to a full-sized tree. A soccer ball which is an obvious replacement for Mario Kart's turtle shell. A pumpkin that works as a banana peel and squid ink (in MK) depending on how you release it, and a few more.

There's really nothing special or original about this game with the exception of being able to customize and upgrade your ride. That being said I wasn't really able to notice any difference with the performance of my car from stock, to my current maxed out engine, shocks, and frame. Yes, maybe I will be left at the back of the pack more often if I haven't upgraded my kart but the sense of speed is kinda lacking.

The graphics on this game is quite nice. A little bit too kiddie or cartoonish for my taste, but it's not as blocky or bland when compared to other racing games out there. I haven't seen any performance issues with the game either. Driving through a dirt track gives out a weird brown bubble looking effect though.

Sound is okay. You'll get the usual Sim lingo as with any other Sims game out there. You also have a music playing on some of the buildings/houses on the map when you get near them. As for the sound effects, it's a bit flat.

Controls is quite familiar. You press A to accelerate, B to break/reverse. Y to look back and R to hop/drift. Throwing stuff on the other hand is placed on the L button which for me is at times awkward to press. Holding down the B button and pressing the directional keys while in the air will enable you to do tricks which is an okay addition. But sadly, there's no option to change the button configuration if you're not comfortable with the default button configuration.

What held this game back is the sheer amount of issues that somewhat overshadowed its mediocre gameplay. Let me give you some examples: Collision detection for example is quite poor, you cannot get close to a gutter because the game detects a few inches from it as a collision. There's no option to quickly restart a race, you are forced to end a race and then restart it. You are able to throw a the bubble item in front of you, but it will only automatically cause your car to be trapped in it (unless you're not moving of course). The flying saucer item gives a really unfair advantage because it automatically puts a player in first place. And no, it's not just a rare occurrence. There was even a time that I saw 2 flying saucers go past me at the same time, and I was also carrying the same item with me. And if you're not always driving at the middle of the road while in town, you'll end up getting asked for favors by your neighbors because you need not stop in front of them to engage in a conversation. All you need to do is drive near them, and that introduces the issue that I just mentioned.

The game will only last you around 5-6hrs. So I'm really not going to recommend this game unless you're already sick and tired of playing Mario Kart. It may have added a couple of things to detract you from doing nothing but racing. But having only 12 tracks (plus a few stunt tracks) and doing repetitive stuff for your neighbors isn't enough to highly recommend a purchase.

.:My reviews are only as good as everyone else's. Take every single one of them with a grain of salt:.