There was a time when The Sims franchise attempted to branch out into new genres. The Nintendo DS launch version of The Urbz created an adventure experience of sorts, while the MySims series tackled racing, management, party games and even a detective game. MySims SkyHeroes is the former, and arguably one of the most successful in the series.

The game began as a Wii exclusive, but eventually branched out to PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo DS. Based on first-appearances, many may be expecting MySims SkyHeroes to be the latest in a long-line of Mario Kart clones. While it’s undeniable that Nintendo’s cherished kart racing series has obviously been a great source of inspiration, MySims SkyHeroes actually plays a very different game.

MySims SkyHeroes screenshot

MySims Takes to the Sky

It’s true that the key context of the game is races. In pint-sized vehicles. With weapons. However, being sky-based the events take place over a series of checkpoints. On many tracks, these checkpoints will appear in different locations on subsequent laps. Power-ups remain in play, but are far less influential on a player’s success or failure. Against tougher opponents it may often be necessary to self-sacrifice a little momentum to avoid being temporarily taken out the race.

MySims SkyHeroes screenshot

What’s the Story, MySims Glory?

The game offers the standard Quick Play option. Solo players are also given a series of varying missions in the form of Story Mode. The story itself is poorly delivered drivel, with no bearing whatsoever on the gameplay. Even young children unlikely to warm to its slow pacing and poorly conceived characters. However this doesn’t act as a detriment to the well presented missions the player is presented with, an assortment of the aforementioned races and dogfighting.

Dogfights are essentially lifted straight from the Nintendo 64 classic Star Fox 64 (aka Lylat Wars), with a modern twist. Every power-up present in the races is also available here. Damaging enemies or environmental obstacles will scatter health pick-ups for the player to collect before engaging another enemy. The player has the traditional manoeuvres available on the right analog stick, and though their implementation doesn’t challenge Top Gun’s C.F.I., they are a necessary inclusion given the hectic nature of the combat.

Though thoroughly enjoyable, the Story Mode is significantly hindered by a punishing difficulty curve. After only a light tutorial, the player is thrown straight into challenges that rapidly increase in difficulty. In order to keep-up with the curve, the player can customise their aircraft with unlockable components, but many of these are largely aesthetic with little-to-no impact on the vehicle’s statistics. With the female avatar being the primary option in the character customisation screen, it soon becomes apparent which audience MySims SkyHeroes is aimed at, making such a design decision all the more puzzling.

MySims SkyHeroes screenshot

In-house Rivalry

MySims SkyHeroes features split-screen gameplay for up to two-players. Four gameplay modes are offered both locally and online. These take the forms of free-for-all and team matches in each of the race and dogfight gameplay modes. The game also offers online play for up to ten players on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (six on the Wii or four on the Nintendo DS), with an intuitive lobby system and swift connection process. Both of these gameplay modes provide life beyond the Story Mode, and given that the game is ultimately designed with competitive play in-mind, the multiplayer is likely to be the biggest draw of MySims SkyHeroes for many.

MySims SkyHeroes screenshot

MySims SkyHeroes Comfortably Expands The Sims Franchise

Visually, MySims SkyHeroes is a comfortable title, but hardly excels in any measurable form. The backdrops provide plenty of variety and are suitable thematic to be memorable, while the customisation options are somewhat limited. The pace at which the game plays at is surprisingly swift. Given the freedom of movement the game copes well with 10 players simultaneously engaged in online combat. The sound quality however, is less than remarkable. The Simlish vocabulary is surprisingly limited – clearly with less structure that The Sims 3 – and the soundtrack is the usual inoffensive, forgettable jingles that often bogs down such cartoon-styled action games.

It would be wrong to dismiss MySims SkyHeroes as a “casual” release. It proffers just as much depth as most similar kart-style racing games. However, its dressing is most certainly aimed at younger players. And having that in mind it’s impossible to understand why the developers imposed such a harsh difficulty curve. Plenty of missions are available, so it’s not as if the developers needed to expand the game’s length artificially. Sadly, the Quick Play option is simply little substitute with no measurement of progression offered. MySims SkyHeroes is an enjoyable title, sitting comfortably next to SEGA’s Sonic & SEGA All-Star Racing as a significant competitor to Mario Kart Wii. But while its cartoon visuals and challenging gameplay have been designed as a one-fits-all solution, it may cause just as many problems as it solves.

Categories: Games