Going up against the Mario Kart series is, for most third party cartoon racers, a very bad idea. It's a genre pretty much created and dominated by Nintendo but EA is on to something here because MySims Racing is actually quite good.
It obviously takes a fair few cues from Mario's tyre-burning series. Courses are littered with weapons that you use to batter other karts, there's a hop move in there, and powersliding too. All the clichés are present and correct.
It uses the same control options as Mario Kart Wii as well. You can turn the Remote on its side (or clip it into a Wii Wheel) and tilt to steer, or clip in a Nunchuk for analogue stick steering. If you prefer your controls a little more traditional you can grab yourself a Classic Controller or GameCube pad.
Although the items have different names, a lot of them do the same stuff as the Mario Kart Wii ones. A watermelon is essentially a homing missile like a Red Shell, a cupid creature fills the screen with hearts like the black ink of a Blooper, and footballs are like Green Shells.
There are a few new ones though. One item turns the screen upside down, which reverses your steering controls and royally messes with your head. Throwing a seed onto the course makes a tree grow right in the middle of the road, creating a new obstacle and a bubble weapon paralyses racers for a few seconds.
MySims Racing has a few other neat touches of its own. It packs a new boost system, where players charge a boost meter on the left of the screen by performing jumps, sliding around bends and collecting crystals.
This boost gauge can be used as and when you like by holding the Z trigger (in our preferred Wii Remote and Nunchuk control method), allowing you to boost over grass verges to create shortcuts, or boost up ramps to leap to secret areas.
Can You Keep A Secret?
Those secret areas are MySims Racing's other major plus point. Courses are longer and packed with far more shortcuts, alternate routes and secrets in them than Nintendo's relatively straightforward tracks. On the negative side, there are only 15 available. When compared to Mario Kart Wii's 32, that's pretty weak.
Dive into the game's story mode and you get customisation options too. You start off making your own Sim and tweaking all the usual stuff like hair, face, clothes and name. Then you make a car which starts off pretty slow and basic.
As you work through the story mode, which throws you into a series of races, collection challenges and time trials, you unlock blueprints which let you purchase visual and performance upgrades to your car. New engines improve top speed, a new chassis improves handling and so forth.
But at its core, is it as good as Nintendo's offering? No. The karts feel faster, which is cool, but the powersliding feels looser and not as easy to control. When you jump, if you try to turn the second you land, you automatically enter into a slide, which can be annoying if you're not actually after a slide on that particular bend.
The multiplayer options leave plenty to be desired. Versus and championship modes are in there for up to four players, but without online play or extra alternative modes this is seriously behind the times.
There's a solid racer in here. It does everything it needs to do to get a decent look in on the kart scene, but does it innovate the genre at all? Not really.