Kinect Joy Ride Review

By Nikole Zivalich - Posted Nov 03, 2010

Kinect Joy Ride is a launch title for Microsoft's contribution to motion control, Kinect.

The Pros
  • Finally, your avatars get to have some fun
  • Modes like Trick are fun co-op.
  • Good game for casual or younger players.
The Cons
  • Not much incentive to keeping playing.
  • Always having to return to menu takes you out of the game.
  • Game poses no real challenge. You can't lose.

Kinect Joy Ride Review:

Kinect Joy Ride is a racing game that puts your Xbox Avatars behind the wheel. Since most people only have one or two accounts on an Xbox, there is a generic cast of avatars to race as well. Like all Kinect games, you are the controller. Put your arms out in front of you. Imagine holding a steering wheel. That's how you play. The Kinect works. It accurately reads your movement. Slightly turn "the wheel" to the left and your car will turn left.

The Kinect camera is constantly trying to find you a second player. This is ideal for quick races against a friend. This is less ideal if someone simply is walking through your living room.

Familiar Racing Modes

The game includes seven different game modes but no story mode. You’ve played the different races before in games like Mario Kart.

The two modes you’ll probably be playing most are Pro Race and Battle Race. Pro Race is a no-frills race, no items, three laps, first place wins. There are different courses that need to be unlocked with the acquisition of "fans". The racing faster, collecting coins, and pulling off better stunts will earn you more fan at the end of races.

Fans are acquired in every type of race. They’re the “currency” in Joy Ride. Earn enough fans, and you can upgrade your cars or unlock new. For instance, the VW Bus lookalike that you can purchase has a “Surfer” look that costs over 22,000 fans. That’s a small fortune in this game.

Battle Race is Pro Race with powerups. Powerups are lined up just like they are in Mario Kart and let you slow down opponents or speed up past them. None of the modes offer a real challenge. Between items and well timed boosts, you could easily be in 8th the entire time only to get lucky and place first in the end.

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Other games modes are Smash, Dash, Stunt and Trick. The first two are pretty self explanatory. The point of Smash is to smash and destroy as many statues as you can. In Dash you have to get through the level as fast as possible. Each of these modes don't require much skill or movement, and unless you really want to beat your own score, don't have much replayabilty.

Stunt and Trick take full advantage of the Kinect camera. Stunt requires you to lean back, forward, left and right in order to do flips, turns and of course, barrel rolls. The more you move, the more your car moves. Trick is totally unlike the other modes -- you're not actually racing or steering. Instead, you're posing the way the game tells you. Some poses include The Warrior, The Hula and Secret Agent. Kinect scans your body to see if you're posing correctly; if you are you get to go a little farther in your flying car. Yeah, it’s flying.

Unlike Mario Kart this game doesn't have any likable characters -- other than you that is. And I, frankly speaking, don't like my avatar that much. The avatars are a small step away from looking like Miis and just aren't appealing to look at. So while Joy Ride isn’t as delightfully nostalgic as Mario Kart, it's important to remember that this game is for the Xbox 360, the current king of multiplayer. One of the game modes, Xbox LIVE Race, lets you and seven friends race each other online, something Mario Kart Wii was never able to seamlessly do.

Kinect Does Work

A fun use of the Kinect is the camera. The games takes pictures of you during important stunts, tricks and moments in the game. It doesn't add anything to the racing, but if you're playing with someone else, it's a great opportunity to make fun of each other. These pictures are exciting for the first few matches, but the bright gold camera that appears on screen to indicate it's photo time can be distracting. Maybe I've watched too many episodes of America's Next Top Model but every time I saw the icon I knew it was time to smile and freeze. Unfortunately the only camera settings are Yes and No, so you can't have the camera for certain modes or get rid of the warning icon. The pictures can be sent to where the entire world can see how ridiculous you look playing Trick Race. You will look ridiculous.

Is This A Complete Game?

While playing, the question I asked myself was "why am I playing?" If I'm a Joe Normal Gamer, what about this game is going to keep me racing? After every single race you have two options, Play Again or Return to Main Menu. You can't go back one level, return to the same mode or continue on in a series of races. Going back to the Main Menu takes you out of the racing state of mind. Unless you’re really into leaderboards, nothing is going to keep you playing after the novelty of a new race mode wears off. Yes, this game works. Kinect lets you use your hands as the controller and race different cartoon cars. Yes, there are several different ways to race and they are all accurate and accessible to the most casual of gamers. And yes you can send pictures of yourself looking absurd to your facebook. But that's where the yeses stop. Joy Ride doesn't take any further steps to keep people playing.

Joy Ride shows off just how accurate Kinect is, but hasn't done enough to make it worth the price. The game seems like more than a glorified free demo or XBLA game, which it was originally meant for. Microsoft has mentioned plans for DLC and the potential this game has but it might be best to wait until that DLC becomes a reality.

Overall, it's a fun game but it won't it take more than 30 minutes to want something with more substance.

Still want to play it? Why not rent it at Gamefly?