With each game they star in, the cheerful little square people of the MySims world take another step away from their simulation roots. Being cute, mischievous mascotlike figures, it was only a matter of time before they ended up in karts armed with silly weapons. Their first foray into racing isn't going to knock Mario off his kart-racing throne, but MySims Racing is a solid kart racer with a few nice tricks that breathe life into a stale genre.
MySims Racing offers three modes for your driving pleasure--Quick Race, Story, and Multiplayer--but Story mode is the star of this vehicle. Your created character is on a quest to bring the excitement of racing back to the MySims world and foil the efforts of the evil Morcubus. The narrative is disjointed and is brought up infrequently, but it's lighthearted and adds some welcome variety to the standard kart-racing formula.
Drifting earns you boost, but the cars handle so well that you rarely need to do so.
Story mode is set up with a large overworld in the style of older kart-racing games, such as Diddy Kong Racing and Crash Team Racing. Unlike in those old kart-racing games, the world in MySims Racing acts as more than just a hub to cruise around between races. In addition to having a house and garage to visit for customization options, you'll find tons of MySims characters hanging around hoping to stop you for a favor. These favors usually involve picking up items littered around the map, driving a character to a different location, or cruising around a stunt course. The overworld is a great idea, and seeing other drivers zipping around and sims standing about creates the illusion of a real racing town, but the charm soon fades as the tedium of all those favors sets in. They are a nice distraction from normal races at first, but they get old quickly, because most of them offer little to no challenge. Unfortunately, completing at least some of these favors is required if you want to upgrade your vehicle. After you've dropped characters off at their destinations, they'll pay you in the MySims currency of crystals. Since there are a variety of crystals, you may have to do several favors to get the correct combination of crystals for a new part, which can be a real pain.
The other modes, Quick Race and Multiplayer, let you jump into a race on any of the tracks against the computer or up to three other people. You can participate in single-card, multicard, and online races with up to three friends. The online options are serviceable but are nothing special. There are no battle modes here--just straight racing. However, it's nice that you can increase the difficulty of the computer-controlled racers if you don't have enough friends to fill out an online race.
The actual racing doesn't break any new ground. There are weapon pickups sprinkled on each track for you to use during races, and you can drift, boost, and hop. It's familiar territory, but it plays well. The weapons are all generally tame, and you've seen them all before as homing missiles or red turtle shells, but they are well balanced. There's a spaceship that will transport you to first place, though it doesn't appear often enough to make the races unfair. You have to rely more on your racing skills to win in this game. And skillful driving is rewarded: first place earns you new blueprints for better parts.
The customization options aren't as deep in the DS version as they are in the Wii game, but they still offer more than most racing games. You can buy items to change the weight, speed, acceleration, and other stats on your vehicle, as well as purchase a number of silly objects to make your car and driver look completely unnatural. Paying for the parts requires crystals, which requires doing favors, so you'll have to decide for yourself if that new spoiler is worth taking a few sims across town.