Kinect Joy Ride Impressions

Posted December 20th, 2010 at 10:45 am

Originally developed to be a free Xbox Live Arcade game, Joy Ride was tapped to be converted to a Kinect launch game while still in development. While the XBLA version was going to be free it was going to be supported through microtransactions. Now though it has hit the marketplace as a full priced Kinect title with the motion control support implemented. Unfortunately the final product feels it would have been more appropriate as an XBLA offering.

The racing in Joy Ride is made relatively simple. The hands act as though they are holding a steering wheel, leaning from side to side enacts drifting, pulling back and then pushing forward activates a boost, and stunts are performed in mid-air by leaning the body to the sides or front and back. There is no need to accelerate or control speed as the game takes care of that automatically.

Overall Kinect does a pretty good job with its responsiveness in Joy Ride. It isn’t incredibly precise but the game really isn’t looking for that anyway. I found myself leaning a bit too much when trying to turn which was hurting my performance early on and though it takes a bit of getting used it isn’t difficult to pick up. Also of note is that the game can be played while sitting down which is nice.

Joy Ride contains six different modes plus online racing. There is the standard “Pro Race”, along with “Battle Race” which brings in weapons (think Mario Kart). Then there are the modes with focused objectives which includes “Stunt” that takes place in a pipe environment, “Dash” which places the racer in a situation of dodging obstacles, “Smash” which is about taking out statues and other items in the process, and “Trick” which involves matching poses and curiously has nothing to do with racing (and felt tacked on and terrible).

My biggest problem with Joy Ride is simply that it isn’t all that much fun to play. I never had the urge to continue even with its structure that involves gaining fans and in turn new cars and new tracks. It also didn’t go over any better as a “party game” so whether it is single player or with friends there really isn’t much to be had here. Even online racing is basically non-existent as every time I attempted to play I was unable to get a game going.

Given that this is a first party game, like Kinect Adventures and Sports, photos are taken automatically while playing and those can be sorted through and uploaded to KinectShare. The menus are responsive like those titles, though for some reason it never would sign me in automatically. A lot of time was also spent going back and forth through menus which got tiring.

Kinect Joy Ride is handled relatively well but its ceiling for potential was simply too low. There just isn’t enough compelling content or a high enough fun factor to make it a worthwhile purchase.